Party’s over for the major parties

The two-party party is over.

This election will end the Labor-Coalition contest. The first preference vote of both major parties is in the mid 30s. The combination of the rest is also in the 30s.

It means that the minor parties and independents will get a significant number of seats in the House of Representatives.

It will not be a one off. Hitherto they have got 25 per cent of the vote or less and got 10 or fewer out seats out of 151, or just 7 per cent of the seats. Push that 25 per cent up to 30 to 32 per cent, as the polls are suggesting now, and the 7 per cent of the seats goes up to around 15 to 20 per cent of the seats.

It means that neither of the two major parties can ever form majority government in their own right for a very long time.

They will always have to accept that they will have to rely on minor parties and independents to form government. That happened in 2010 and almost happened in 2016 and 2019. Just forget the idea of one or other party having a sizeable majority.

More importantly, minority governments will have to compromise on policy.

Australians should applaud this. For more than three decades many Australians have despaired over the polarisation of politics. They hate the sparring and point-scoring. They want politicians to concentrate on addressing the problems facing the nation.

Significantly, minority positiions will reduce the power of the far Christian right in the Liberal Party and what is left of radical left in Labor.

Andrew Wilkie in Tasmania proves the point. He was elected as an Independent in Tasmania in 2010 in what was a safe Labor seat, needing preferences to win. Voters appreciate his independence and work for the interests of his electorate and in the national interest. Now he has one of the safest seats in Australia and does not need to go to preferences.

Other independents are doing the same thing.

This election is going to change the fundamentals of Australian politics. Many in the media, with their win-lose mentality, will find it hard to cope 

The Coalition has virtually no hope of forming majority government. Labor might. If it does, it will be a one-term event. The trend has been consistent. Voters have been turning away from the major parties over the past two decades, for very good reason.

Now the momentum has reached the stage that that sounds in a significant number of seats. And once an Independent or minor party gets a seat, they usually keep it: Wilkie; Haines; Bandt; Katter and before them Ted Mack. On Saturday, don’t expect an on-the-night a definitive majority for one or other major party, or ever again.

The big question is how will the Governor-General respond to the tussle between the Coalition and Labor in a position of a hung Parliament. He should sit back and wait for the House of Representatives to elect a Speaker and vote for someone to form a Government. That process should be enshrined in the Constitution.

He should not “call” on anyone to form a Government before the House of Representatives meets, especially not on the “advice” of the outgoing Prime Minister.

In short, forget the old pattern of Labor v Coalition and a winner on the night.

Crispin Hull “covered” his first election as an Australian Electoral Commission one-off worker in 1969 and as a journalist for the subsequent 18 elections. He is a former editor of The Canberra Times.

This article was first published in The Canberra Times on 21 May 2022.

Crispin Hull

4 thoughts on “Party’s over for the major parties”

  1. Very happy with the results so far. Hopefully this will eliminate the strong adversarial atmosphere around Parliament. It is consensus that we need, not point-scoring. I hope the press adjusts too and does away with the ‘gotcha’ questions.

  2. For me, the pampered indies just seem to be stepping out the same old LibLab dance. Their breathtaking “climate change” insights are just boilerplate UN IPCC stuff. Especially Spender, they love Big Australia just as much as the duopoly.

    What you want is a third force that actually makes a rare difference. Like it or not, Rattenbury unquestionably did that, with Canberra light rail in 2016.

  3. I am hoping for a Labor minority government and the Greens to increase their representation in the lower house from 1 to 3.

    I would like to see leverage from the cross bench to force the government to defer the stage 3 tax cuts until after there have been more than one year’s surpluses and net debt is below $200 billion. The LNP’s Morrison and Frydenberg set this bar with their parliamentary comments:

    27 June 2018 Treasurer Morrison said “We have wrestled Labor’s gorilla of debt to the ground…” 31 May 2018 Treasurer Morrison said “…when we came to government we had to deal with the economic and fiscal catastrophe that was left to us by those who sit on that side of the House now” Treasurer Frydenberg 3 March 2020 “When we came to government, we inherited a fiscal mess. There was a deficit of $48½ billion, or around three per cent of GDP” Treasurer Frydenberg 11 Feb 2020 “By the time Labor left office, it had left behind $240 billion in accumulated deficit, with debt growing by almost 35 per When we came to government, we inherited a budget deficit of $48½ billion: around three per cent of GDP… Can you imagine responding to the challenges we face, with the fires, the virus, the floods, the drought and the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China, with a $48½ billion deficit? We would have had to put up taxes. .”

    I would also like to see the independents and Greens force the government to plan and legislate an increased ambition of >50% emissions reduction 2005-2030.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. Will be interesting to see the size of the informal, intentionally informal, vote.

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