My faith in the Australian public has been restored after John Howard not only lost the election but also lost his own seat as well. The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is imminent, and I’m also hopeful that a “sorry” for the stolen generation is on the horizon.
Of course we all know Kevin Rudd and the Labor party dominated the results in the house of representatives, but in the Senate things are much more interesting. As only half of the Senate is elected at any one time the Liberals and Family first still retain some seats. Here’s the breakdown:
- 37 seats for the Coalition
- 32 for Labor
- 5 for the Greens
- 1 for Family First
- 1 for Nick Xenophon
So while Labor holds the lower house, a bill must be voted on in both the lower house and the Senate before being passed. This will make things very interesting next July when the new Senate sits for the first time.
Take Kyoto for example. The Coalition will vote against it while Labor will vote for it, as will the Greens. That makes it a dead tie at 37 a piece. Xenophon will also vote for it, which leaves Steve Fielding of Family First, who thankfully will also vote to ratify it. That gives 39 for and 37 against, which means it should pass. It should also give you an impression on how important Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding will be in holding the balance of power.
As for the Greens, they will have considerable influence on Labor party policy, as without them Labor can’t pass anything. This will be especially important on issues where they disagree, such as the pulp mill which Labor continues to support. Another important player will be the coalition’s Barnaby Joyce who’s been known to cross the floor and vote with Labor from time to time.
There are interesting times ahead, including a small chance of the dreaded double dissolution. Ultimately I’m very happy that the coalition’s majority has been defeated, as now the government will need to work with the minor parties rather than just blindly pursuing their own agendas.