World Didn’t End, Annoying Reporters
If I hear another reporter talk about who would win if we went back to the polls or who has a mandate or who got the most votes (on a two party preferred basis) I may well scream. Our Constitution does not recognise parties, or policies, or platforms. What we vote for is people. People. We elect them to make decisions on our behalf as our delegaterepresentative (whence “representative democracy”). Who forms government is the person who can convince enough of those delegates to support them in a no confidence motion on the floor of the House. That can always change, and where there is a minority government, change is perhaps a little more likely. We don’t vote for mandates. Any analysis which talks about which party has a right to hold government presumes that one or other of the parties has some pre-existing right to govern. They’re caught in the two party box. The reason we have a two party box is primarily because of Labor’s caucusing system, where party members have to vote as a block on any policy which has been debated/agreed in caucus.
A minority government is good news for everyone – or at least everyone interested in democracy, primarily because it is now more likely that there will be greater transparency generally and greater independence to the public service in particular (“without fear or favour” and all that). The Independents have already signalled that they want improvements to question time procedures. The media should be happy because it will be an environment rife for leaks. This is not to say that minority government is always best, but after such a long period of party dominance it should be a good thing now.
Rob Oakeshott is completely right when he says it’ll be “beautiful and ugly”. Whether it will hold together will depend entirely on whether the three independents + Mr Bandt can control the urge to pork barrel for their electorates and make law for the benefit of the country instead.
With a little luck we’ll also be given some respite from the ridiculous overanalysis of every little action or statement of the Independents. Heavens!