25 August 2010

Australia's Unsettled Election

[UPDATE 8/26: The Economist has a nice overview.]

Australia's election outcome remains uncertain, with a few seats left to be decided, but no chance for an overall majority in parliament.  The three independent members of parliament, who have the power to decide the next government and thus have been called "kingmakers," have issued a set of requests to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Coalition leader Tony Abbott (here in PDF), which will surely be taken seriously.  They ask for answers by September 3, suggesting that Australia's leadership will remain in doubt for a few more weeks.

Political pundits are already trying to assess winners and losers from the election.  Some think that the Green party, which holds the balance of power in the Senate and a key seat in the lower house, has emerged a winner, others think not.  This implications of the election for Australia's climate policy remain completely unclear, though the context remains unchanged.  Meantime, as the video above shows, the Aussies are keeping their sense of humor (H/T Lowy Institute).


  1. ...implications of the election for Australia's climate policy remain completely unclear..."

    It also remains unclear for Australia's gravity policy, its tide policy, its lunar orbit policy, and its solar radiance policy.

  2. As it is in Canada, the system can work if two of the factions can agree to stay well clear of their extremist members and if all can, you'll really be able to get something done. While it wouldn't have made a blip on international news agencies, here in Canada it took a surprising, spontaneous and strong separatist sentiment in Western Canada to start pulling the throne into the middle of the room. Hopefully it doesn't take the same in Australia but good luck from your cousins on the other side of the planet!

    While the Americans love their two party system, they also afflicted by it.

  3. Honestly Roger,are you worried that the 'Carbon tax' will not be imposed on the inhabitants of Australia, or are you worried that it will be imposed ? The fence is creaking again.

  4. -3-ItsFairComment

    I am a big advocate for a carbon tax. See my new book for the gory details. Ideally, Australia's new government will enact exactly such a policy ;-)

  5. Great advert. I was having trouble with the whole concept of Australian greens and the sterotypes of the characters until the end. Is there such a thing as a non dopehead Green voter ?

    Small parties can cause havoc. The Greens in Germany and the religious parties in Israel come to mind. In Britain, the Guardian portrayed super wealthy, Oxford grad, Eurocrat Nick Clegg as a radical, left wing outsider and recommended voting Liberal. It illustrates the total contempt they have for their readers.

    We now have the most right wing government in British history.

  6. hi roger,

    The Interpreter article which you linked to also acknowledges that the Greens are the big winners from the election (first paragraph) - but then goes onto express their disquiet due to Greens policies on banning anything nuclear (including Lucas Heights which produces isotopes for medical use) and their pacifist approach to military spending and defence. Simply put the Greens are the big winners, they increased their vote by 3.7%, the Coalition increased their vote by 2.0% and the Labour vote declined by 5.5%

  7. roger,
    This article (Aggression pays in king hits on Labor) makes the point that both ends of the extreme on the climate change issue have profited (Bob Brown, Greens; Tony Abbott, Liberal) whilst those who sought a middle way (Turnbull, Gillard) have lost:
    "Climate change has been good for business for some political leaders. Not surprisingly, those who place themselves at the extreme ends of the argument have prospered:
    "Greens leader Bob Brown embraces the argument in toto and favours the substantial deindustrialisation of Australia as a result; his party increased its vote by 3.6 per cent and won control of the Senate last weekend. Liberal leader Tony Abbott is not a firm believer and does not see the need to make serious changes to the economy to curb carbon emissions. A champion of voters who reject climate change, he has turbocharged his party and could within a couple of weeks be prime minister"

    So, the issue I suppose is the one you raise of finding a "middle way" that is credible to the public, not only that it works but can be sold in that way. It would require an articulate and persistent politician to craft and sell such a policy in the current turmoil of the australian political landscape.

  8. -7-Bill Kerr

    Thanks for the comment, though I am pretty sure I've never called for a "middle way."

    My view is that the results of the Australian election much more reflect the public's loss of trust in Rudd for his various contradictory words on climate (quite independent of the merit or support for what those words represented), followed by the ugly palace coup. Gillard also did Labor no favor with the hokey citizens assembly idea. Had climate played more of a role then arguably the coalition would not have fared so well.

    Bottom line: I don't think that much hinged here on the specific details of climate policy. Rather climate policy was just a vehicle for more ordinary politics.

    Perhaps we might delve into this a bit more next week! Thanks ...