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Oz explained

Fun and games here in Oz this month.

You may have heard, we had an election, and guess what? No one won.

Our situation is even worse than the UK tho, there seems to be no conceivable grouping to establish a stable government. Neither the Government nor the opposition can form a workable majority from the rest of the flotsam and jetsam the electorate threw up, and I mean the last description advisedly.

The Government is the Australian Labor Party – otherwise known as the ALP, centre left but spanning a broad spectrum and with a leader from the hard, very hard, left. If the current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, could get away with it she would probably come out as a committed communist.

OT warning: And yes, in Oz labour is spelt with a ‘u’, with the exception of the Labor Party. And that in itself is a great story, all down to an itinerant 19th Century American conman with a wonderful name. We can blame him for Canberra as well.

Anyway, the opposition, the Liberal Party in permanent coalition with the National Party, is a strange fish indeed. The Libs are an urban party with truly liberal economic views and both conservative and liberal social ones. The Nationals are rural, the party of the bush and very socially conservative. They are protectionist and a party of rural socialism – all about subsidising farming and rural life.

These two parties have been in coalition together, both in government and opposition, for nearly sixty years.

As I said, weird.

So what’s left? The Greens have a single MP, brand new, Marxist, a new age nut job and hasn’t even polished his shiny new seat yet, and a gaggle of independents who all seem to be ex Nationals, although their unexpected and unprecedented influence seems to have driven them power mad.

Neither the ALP nor the Coalition control the Senate, there the Greens will hold the balance of power. The Greens? Sigh, these guys are an interesting lot all on their own. They are their own coalition, made up of sentimental bunny huggers, or, this being Australia, koala huggers, and hardline Stalinists who sniff an opportunity; just like the UK in fact. My forecast? Over the next decade the huggy tendency will be marginalised by the Stalinists – they being the better organisers. Regardless, their published policies call for the Australian economy to be bulldozed flat, and foreign policy to be stuffed sideways.

So, whomsoever forms government, no legislation will pass the Senate without the support of either the opposition or the real nutcases.

Whee. Fun and games there.

In the House of Representatives? Where the government is formed? Well, the ALP, the current government, has 72 seats, the Coalition has 73, Greens 1 (Marxist and new age idiot remember) and independents 4.

So, no workable majority for anyone without the independents, even with a red/green (but I repeat myself) partnership. Now three of these guys are the ones who couldn’t get along with their mates in the Nationals, and left; obstreperous and conservative but rural socialists nonetheless. They are making all sorts of demands that no sane government could go along with, but it looks as if the ALP is more willing to pander to them than the Libs/Nats.

If you are interested, read this for a hoot.

So, my guess? A jerrybuilt government, a sort of formalish ALP and Green relationship, along with tacit support from the independents. That’ll be great, as stable as a bamboo lean-to in a hurricane, the people who voted Green because they are the nice party will get a good solid dose of reality, and Gillard, already haemorrhaging authority and credibility, is coming over as a weak negotiator who will suffer any humiliation to keep power.

Tony Abbott, leader of the Libs, is showing a bit more principle and comes out of this smelling of roses. Despite having one more seat his chances of carving out a solution are even worse than the ALP’s, but he did his job and shattered the government. So long as the new government is as rickety as it is shaping up, his chances of losing the next election are tiny.

And that election may be a week next Saturday.

Although Insha Allah, a few months of this comedy show will strengthen Abbotts hand and keep the nation amused.


  1. Lynne says:

    Poor Oz. Shame you can’t feed the greenies to the koalas, deport Gillard back to the sheep-shagging wilds of Wales and solve the problem.

  2. Kinuachdrach says:

    Cats — I’m ignorant about party loyalty in Australia. With things so equally balanced, it seems that any group of about 3-5 MPs of either major party could decide who gets to form a government by throwing their support to the other party — maybe driven by a commitment to a single issue. Is party loyalty absolute in Australia?

  3. CountingCats says:

    Yep, it tends to be.

    The whole structure is very Westminster. It isn’t like the US at all.

  4. Richard Allan says:

    I hope you’re right about the ALP gov’t just to punish the Climate Contrarians for dumping Turnbull. The Libs should have walked this election with a sane man in charge.

  5. EB says:

    Cats, you forgot the added complication that the Greens only get the balance of power in the Senate come 1 July 2011. Until then the two senate independents retain the balance of power there and can frustrate any wacky ALP/Green initiatives.

  6. CountingCats says:

    Didn’t forget, but sheesh, how much whacked out detail could I go into before our loyal readers eyes glazed over?

    Look at the slapstick of the independents, not so much the three stooges any more, but the four Marx Brothers.

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