So it looks as though Australia might have a hung parliament for the first time in 70 years. (I first typed that as “hug” parliament – the mind boggles!) After the initial horror, I now see that it makes perfect sense. It was the only plausible result. Labor deserved to lose, but the Liberals didn’t deserve to win. Whatever the chaos that results over the next three years, this is actually a result that gives me a lot of hope.
I have written, and indeed ranted, a lot lately about how the major parties were offering us nothing. It was all negative campaigning, calling on fear, racism and self-interest. And the electorate has said, more clearly than ever before: “No. That’s not who we are.”
Sure, there were the rusted on Labor and Liberal voters that delivered those 73 seats to each party. There was a large portion of the population that, perhaps, believed the lie that they had no choice – you have to go for one or the other, anything else is a wasted vote (despite the fact that preferences in the house of representatives get distributed at full value – so a vote for a candidate who doesn’t get in will get passed on in full to your second preference).
But over 11% of the population voted green, and we have a handful of independents as well, so there are people out there – whole electorates! – waking up to the idea that the vision of ourselves and our country that Labor and Liberal are peddling, is just not our colour, darling.
The onus is now on the Greens to prove that they can make realistic, rational compromises without compromising their beliefs, and to show that they can bring better outcomes for Australia. This will be a huge challenge with a hung parliament, whichever way the independents jump and whoever forms government. The bizarre nature of fixed term senate positions and variable house of reps means that our new senators don’t take office until July next year – a scary proposition for the next ten months, regardless of which minority takes control.
But yes, Julia, the people have spoken. And I think it’s quite clear what they’ve said, both to you and to Tony. We don’t want your negativity. We don’t want your fear. We don’t want your racism.
Meanwhile the world is going to hell in a toasty warm hand basket, and we need to act on global warming – not before it’s too late, because it probably already is – but while we are still alive to do so. Neither major party is willing to do that, so it’s down to the independents. What will you demand as your price for government? Make it good, people.