Monday, August 23, 2010

Truepolitiking The Independents

As the reality of not winning has seared itself on the brains of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, the politics begins. First up were the overtures to the Independents. We'll come back to that.

Next came the claims of legitimacy. Tony Abbott claimed, rightly, that the ALP government had lost its legitimacy to govern, but he forgot to say the people did NOT give it to him. Julia Gillard was quick to point out that, and that, as PM, she had heard "the message" from voters.

Then came "the numbers" claims. Tony Abbott claimed that he should form government in a hung Parliament because the Coalition had the highest Primary vote. Except Australia doesn't elect members, or Prime Ministers, on a simplistic primary vote. Julia Gillard claimed she should form the government, because the 2-party preferred numbers favoured her. The difference is so small as to be negligible, and, again, that's not how we elect our Prime Minister. The statements on legitimacy & voting numbers are simply to influence public opinion, and to reinforce the leaders' own sense of messianic leadership. They are for public consumption, and will be ignored by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

So, the real action is behind the scenes. Wooing the Independents will not be easy, for either leader. Rob Bandt (Greens, Melbourne) has indicated he will support Labor to form government. The remaining 3 certain Independent MP's are Bob Katter (Qld), Tony Windsor (NSW), & Rob Oakeshott (NSW). All were members of the National Party, but all left it for philosophical reasons. There is no love within the Coalition for these men, only what they have to do to form government.

The problems for Tony Abbott include: all 3 want the NBN (National Broadband Network, of optic fibre); all recognise that privatising the NBN will not be in the interests of their regional constituents; Rob Oakeshott and, possibly, Tony Windsor are likely to favour action on Climate Change; Bob Katter wants import tariffs on farm produce, and to ban imports of bananas & some other fruit. Coalition Senator Barnaby Joyce and Tony Windsor make no secret of their mutual loathing. I'm sure that none will want any education and health cuts in their electorates, as promised by Tony Abbott. The NBN, Climate Change and not cutting education & health would be serious back-flips for Tony Abbott, and he is unlikely to agree to them.

Action on Climate Change will be a sticky point for Julia Gillard: she promised no action on Climate Change for the duration of this government! Perhaps Julia Gillard will have a better chance of negotiating, with only the one backflip: action on Climate Change.

Of the threee Independents, I believe that Bob Katter is most likely to remain 'Independent' - that is, will not support either the Labor or Coalition to form government.

Stay tuned. This drama will beat anything on TV