Thursday, 20 February 2014

Understanding the consequences of the WA Senate election – thanks to Antony Green

I give thanks to the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green for guiding me through the permutations and combinations thrown up by the need to have a new election to fill the West Australian Senate seats after 1 July. You will find the full Green analysis on his blog but this is the summary:
On the Federal election results, from 1 July the Coalition will have 33 seats, Labor 25, the Greens 10, with eight cross-bench members holding the balance of power. The cross bench Senators represent Palmer United two Senators and one each from the Nick Xenophon Group, the DLP, Liberal Democrats, Family First, Motoring Enthusiasts Party and the Sports Party.
Assuming the first four seats in WA will split two to the right for the Liberal Party and two to the left for either Labor or the Greens, the question is how the final two seats will split.
If a third seat is won by the Liberal Party, then it is likely the final seat will be won by a minor party, maybe Palmer United, from a seat normally won by the left. This would be a status quo result compared to last September’s election.
Another possibility is that as well as a minor party winning a seat from the left, one could also be lost by the right. The Liberal Party would hate to lose its third seat to the National Party for instance, but might find that a better prospect than some other party.
But if the left in Labor plus the Greens won back their traditional third seat, and a minor party won the third Coalition seat, the Senate balance of power would be changed.
A Labor or Green gain would give 36 seats to the left in the Senate, meaning only two votes from the cross bench would be needed to block government legislation. That is only a minor change from the three seats required in the Senate that had been due to take its place on 1 July, but could be an important influence on certain types of legislation.
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