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3 Wise Men….or not

On August 21, 2010, all Australians aged over 18 went to the polls to elect a new Austalian federal government.  For those of you who are not familiar with how the Australian government works here is a brief summary.

There are 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives – from www.aec.gov.au

“Each Member of the House of Representatives is elected to represent an area known as an electoral division. Each electoral division within a State or Territory contains about the same number of people on the electoral roll. The electors in each division elect one person to represent them in the House of Representatives”.

The political party with the most seats forms the government and the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister of Australia.  The other major party which loses the election forms the opposition with the leader of that party becoming the Opposition Leader.

There are two major political parties who could essentially form a government.

The Labor Party of Australia – which was the current government or;

The Liberal/National Coalition – which was the current opposition.

Coming into this election the Labor party held 83 seats out of the 150 available meaning it could govern in its own right.  The Coalition held 65 seats and there was 2 independants who are not affiliated to any political party.

So essentially the political party that can hold 76 seats or more (leaving 74 seats or less) has the majority of seats and they can then ask the Governor General of Australia to form the government which always happens.

So after the election on August 21, we were left with:

Labor – 72 seats

Coalition – 73 seats

Greens – 1 seat

Independents – 4 seats

A hung parliament!

The greens decided they would side with Labor in votes so that means Labor has 74 seats they can count on in a vote.  So 73 to 73 means that no one has the majority 76 seats needed to form a government so now it is up to 4 men, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, all independents to see who they will give their vote to.

Wilkie decided Labor pretty quickly giving them 74 seats.  Still 2 short of what they needed.  But also leaving the coalition 3 short of forming government.

So 3 men have the future of Australia in their hands.  All 3 men are from regional Australia and we just knew that those 3 men were cap in hand seeking the goodies from both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.  They were asking for so much more than they deserved and essentially were holding the country to ransom.  Whichever party promised the most would most likely win their vote and the only people who would benefit would be those 3 men themselves and their own electorates.

How is that fair?  The majority of Australians voted for what was promised during the election campaign.  3 small regional seats will get more because their independents don’t belong to a political party.

So it took these three men 17 days to make a decision as to who they were going to support to form a government.  Essentially, these 3 men voted once again in this election and it meant that the millions of dollars spent on the August 21 poll was perhaps never necessary.  These three men would make the decision on behalf of 21 million Aussies.  Just 3 men.  In my opinion that is too much power for just 3 men to have.

I knew the writing was on the wall when Bob Katter came out individually this afternoon and declared his support for the coalition.  For the last 2 weeks all 3 men said they would make a unified decision – which means they were essentially no longer independent – but when Katter came out alone and backed the coalition it was only ever going to go one way from there. A Labor party win. At this stage of the afternoon this was the score card:

Labor = 74 Seats

Coalition = 74 seats

So at 3pm, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott call a press conference to announce their decisions.  Windsor begins and after a small speech declares his support for Labor giving them 75 seats and needing just one more to form government.

Next up was Oakeshott.  The formula was simple.  Support Labor and that gives them the 76 seats necessary to form a government or support the coalition giving both parties 75 seats and Australia goes back to the polls for a fresh election, which by this stage, the majority of Australians wanted anyway.

So Oakeshott takes the podium and in front of a huge media contingent waffles on for the next 17 minutes telling everyone why he has come to his decision but doesn’t let anyone know yet what his decision is yet.

Talk about a guy milking his 15 minutes of fame.  People all around Australia are eagerly awaiting the news we have been waiting almost 8 weeks for.  Who is our next prime minister?  Bloody get on with it.

Twitter was going nuts with people tweeting about how long his speech was and how much longer until we know.  We were no longer interested in his reasons why, we just wanted to know what his decision was.  It came as no surprise when he announced that Julia Gillard and the Labor party would be getting his vote.

Done! Labor wins the election and Julia Gillard will continue in her role as Prime Minister once the Governor General swears her in.

What a joke!

The coalition actually had the majority of the popular vote, but only just!  The majority of Australians wanted a coalition government with Tony Abbott as our new Prime Minister.  The independents didn’t listen to the majority.  They made the decision based on a list of demands that they took to both parties and who ever provided the most ticks in the boxes would get their vote.

It’s likely we will never know exactly what those demands were but in Rob Oakeshotts speech he indicated that Julia Gillard had offered him a position within her government and if he accepts – which he will – he will become a minister or having a high ranking position in her government.

This is wrong.  How can the result of a federal election come down to just 3 men?  I think the system needs to be looked at.  I don’t have those answers as I am not an expert.  Perhaps to govern the country you need to have a 5 seat majority?  Perhaps it should be based on the popular vote only.  I’m not sure.  It should never come down to 3 men and it could quite easily have come down to just one man had the cards fallen that way.

What do you think?  Is the system fair?  Do you think the right decision was made?  Will Labor win the next election?  Will the Independents regain their seats at the next election based on their decisions?