Ding dong the witch is dead!

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.

Policies not Politicians

When I vote in the upcoming election, I wont be voting for John Howard. I wont be voting for Kevin Rudd. I wont be voting for Bob Brown. I will be voting for the Liberal party, or the Labour party, or the Greens. As much as the media spits the Howard vs Rudd angle at us, to me it’s about the parties as a whole. It’s about policies, not politicians.

My decision will not be informed by grandstanding, stunts or slander on an individual. My decision will be based entirely on the policies of each party, and how strongly I agree or disagree with them. This is where the Greens have got it right – on their website you can find a handy list of all their major policies. Go through it and see if you agree with them – or not – and then you can easily decide if the Greens are for you. I gave up trying to find a list of policies on both Liberal and Labour’s websites after about five minutes of navigational nightmare.

Personally I will be voting for the Greens, even though I strongly disagree with their rather limiting policies on genetic research. Curiously, their policies on human genetic research are conspicuously absent while their policies on plant and animal research are rather prominent. Hmmm. Still, the rest of their policies on social and environmental reform I like, so they’ll be getting my vote.

Of course then there’s always the Senator Online party, they have no policies at all. They will simply put each proposed senate bill on their website, and let the public vote aye or nay. However the public votes, they will vote, essentially turning every bill into a referendum. Sounds like democracy to me!