A Delicate Balance

by Stubborn Mule on 12 September 2010 · 9 comments

3-way BalanceEver since Julia Gillard managed to wangle the support of two of the three country independents and scrape through to a second term in government, speculation has focused on how long the arrangement can last…and not only in the media but also on the Mule Stable.

Challenging though the road ahead may be for the new government, with so many different interests to juggle, I am of the view that Labor will do whatever they can to hold on to power. Even if they are unable to pass “crucial” legislation, they would be very unlikely to go to the polls early lest they lose the election. After all, if they did not have the courage to trigger a double dissolution when they failed to pass emissions trading legislation to combat the “greatest moral challenge of our time”, it is hard to see what issue could be important enough to them to jeopardise their power.

As for the independents, another election would risk their own new-found power. Furthermore, in siding with Labor they have not really promised very much. All they are committing to is to pass supply and to support the government in the event that no confidence motions are brought against it. On each and every particular piece of legislation they are free to horse-trade once more and potentially vote against the government. Also, as Bob Brown recently pointed out, there is nothing to stop the independents and the Greens backing legislation initiatives brought forward by the Liberals. So there really is no good reason for the independents to withdraw their support from Labor.

Without the numbers, the Liberals and Nationals are powerless to bring on an early election. So, this unlikely new coalition government is likely to be here to stay. The only scenario I can see that could undo Labor is a by-election. If one of the MPs supporting Labor were to fall under a bus, retire, disgrace themselves and resign or in some other way leave the Parliament, the Liberals would have the chance to win the by-election and chance the numbers on the floor. Failing that, I would expect to see Labor ruling for a full term.

What do you think? While it may take some time to see the result, this seems like a good opportunity for another poll on the Mule, so have your say!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Senexx September 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Started a new blog all about it – click link ^. I am of course supportive of the Independents. And since I’m a Whedon and Firefly fan can I just say

Browncoats Unite! Support the Independents

2 JamesGlover September 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

@Sennex as a fellow Whedon fan can I just say I am glad Dr Horrible never got in and the Scooby Gang hold the balance of powers.

3 Michael Michael September 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm

How many by-elections do we have, on average, per parliament?

4 Stubborn Mule September 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Good question. I will look into it.

5 Stubborn Mule September 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Michael Michael: Looking at the AEC website, I see that by-elections are more frequent than I had realised. Over the period 1994 to 2009 there 22, or an average of around 1.4 per year. Now 1994 looks like a rather unusual year, with 6 by-elections. Looking at the period 1995 to 2009 reduces the total to 16. Even so, this gives a rate of around 1.1 per year. Assuming that the chances that there is a by-elections in any two (non-overlapping) periods, it is not unreasonable to model them as a Poisson process. Further assuming that the chances of any given by-election being for a Labor coalition seat are 50% (close enough!), this suggests that the probability of Labor surviving three years without having to contest a seat of theirs (or one of their allies) is somewhere between 13 and 20%. Of course, that doesn’t mean they would lose government as they might win the by-election or there may already have been a by-election that the Liberal/National party lost. Even so, it does suggest that banking on a full term is rather optimistic!

6 pfh007 September 13, 2010 at 10:00 am

After applying a few squirts of Mr Sheen to my crystal ball the following was revealed via a suitably wavey shimmering effect.

The Gillard government completes a few additional policy shifts to re-position itself (aka the lurch) closer to the just right of center pivot point of Australian politics.

They will avoid anything tricky or likely to blow up in their faces in terms of policy. The independents and greens will maintain a high profile but generally don’t get in the way too much.

The Libs and Nats are faced with the choice of agreeing with the ALP on a lot of policy or moving to the right (similar to the situation they found themselves in the 1980′s and initially with Rudd). As the ALP will now be closer to the centre – Tony Abbott will find it a lot harder to get traction claiming the government are radical lefties. He will be forced to move to the right (and painted as lunar right) or impotence. Gillard will prove popular as PM if a little grating.

Once the ALP are confident that they are again straddling the prized middle-ish ground they will be looking for a suitable pretext to secure their position via an early election if at all possible especially if keeping the indie’s happy is proving irritating. It will not be difficult to manufacture one if required.

The unknown is the extent to which the ALP can fix their policy ‘tin-ear’ which got themselves into so much trouble in the first term. By policy ‘tin-ear’ I mean nothing more than policies that drift from that mild center-right position that has been so popular down-under since the 1980′s.

In this regard both parties have a touch of the ‘tin-ears’ at the moment o there is plenty of opportunity for either party to secure the political real estate necessary for election next time.

7 Stubborn Mule September 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

pfh: shimmery your crystal ball may be, but that is the most detailed prognostication I’ve seen in a long time. Well done!

P.S. At the risk of frustrating those who have already voted, I have added an extra option in the poll: over 2 years but not full term.

8 pfh007 September 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Ha Ha ! Yes, but I bought it too early ( impatient early adopter!) and now it is being superceded by 200Hz 3D crystal balls with anti-shimmer technology. Get one of those little beauties and reading political tea leaves will be like watching CinemaScope.

9 stan October 18, 2010 at 6:52 am

Julia Gillard Will Not be PM at 2013 Federal Election 1.72
Julia Gillard Will be PM at 2013 Federal Election 2.00

as of 18 oct 2010

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