Classified as - reflective journal, politics, advocacy
|From my local cafe: many voters weren't impressed with the party leaders!|
So the federal election results are pretty well all in and it looks like we will have:
- a large Liberal National Party (LNP) majority in the House of Representatives (probably 90 MPs)
- a much reduced Labor (ALP) representation (probably 55 MPs)
- two Independents, Andrew Wilkie continuing in Denison (Tas) and Cathy McGowan, newly elected, in Indi (Vic)
- one continuing Green MP (Adam Bandt in Melbourne)
- one continuing Katter's Australian Party (KAP) MP, Bob Katter in Kennedy (Qld)
- and possibly one Palmer United Party (PUP) representative, Clive Palmer in Fairfax (Qld), though that seat is still too close to call
The Senate counting is not finalised and won't be for a while, but it seems we may have some odd results, with some "micro-parties" being elected through preferencing arrangements, including possibly The Motoring Enthusiasts Party (which only gained 0.5% of primary votes) in Victoria.
It is clear that the LNP coalition government will not have a majority in the Senate. Therefore it will have to negotiate to get controversial legislation passed through the Senate.
Judging by policy positions of likely new Senators from parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party in NSW and Family First in SA, however, it looks as if the LNP may be able to repeal the carbon price legislation, once the new Senators have taken their seats in July 2014. (For more background on this, please see my previous post)
Greg Hunt, the new Minister for the Environment, has said that the LNP is still committed to achieving Australia's 5% emissions reduction target by 2020. However the Climate Institute has found it is unlikely that the LNP Direct Action policy will be able to achieve this in practice.
Tony Abbott has talked about the LNP having a "mandate" to get rid of the carbon price and supporting mechanisms, but in practice the situation is much less clear.
On primary votes there has been a swing of about 4.5% against the ALP, and about 3% against the Greens, but the swing to the LNP coalition was much smaller, only about 1% (AEC). Most of the swing away from Labor and the Greens went to minor parties, particularly the Palmer United Party (PUP), and to micro parties or independents. Some of this then flowed back to the LNP on the two party preferred vote through preferences.
So while it is clear that swinging voters voted against Labor, and to a lesser extent the Greens, it isn't clear that they were voting for the LNP, at least not as their first preference.
It is also not clear that the carbon price influenced their votes. A Crosby Textor survey in marginal seats, for example, showed that very few people spontaneously mentioned the carbon price (or "tax" as it was called in this survey) as a factor influencing their vote.
The Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) sees climate change as major threat to population health and well-being and has called on the parties to do more to address this. It is important to continue working at local level for a sustainable climate and environment, even if it becomes more difficult under the new federal government.
In terms of broader advocacy, there is currently a petition on Change.org asking the LNP to reconsider its decision to get rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). I urge readers to sign this petition.
The government cannot actually get rid of the CEFC until legislation is passed, but they have already ordered the CEFC to stop funding new clean energy projects. As I said in my earlier post, there are two major climate change reports due very soon, one from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 27 September, and one from the Australian Climate Change Authority (CCA) in early October. (The LNP government also intends to get rid of the CCA but I understand this report will still come out.) The new government should not be taking such rushed action before people have had a chance to see these reports and publicly discuss them.
In a future post I will look at broader advocacy, including what the AHPA and the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) are doing and what people working in local communities can do.
I also plan look at the issue of gender and politics in my next post. I believe that the LNP, in opposition, drew on sexism to create a false impression that Julia Gillard (and the government she led) was unusually incompetent and untrustworthy, to a greater extent than Australian governments have generally been. I also believe that Kevin Rudd, in taking over the leadership of the ALP, was in a sense assisted by this. This raises huge moral questions, not only about the supposed 'mandate' of the LNP, but about politics in Australia more generally.
(About the photo: according to the ABC Vote Compass, overall voters ranked Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott and Christine Milne all poorly. Mr Abbott pulled ahead a little bit in the campaign, but none of them scored more than 4/10. The Greens were popular in my local area, however, and I think a lot of people there, especially women, didn't think much of Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd!
Note that Vote Compass was not a random sample, but was weighted to reflect the population)