To listen to Liberals and Nationals bemoaning the horror of a Labor, independents and Greens voting coalition, because coalition is a dirty word, was one of those humorous elements of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. For most of the time since federation whenever Australia has had a conservative government it has involved a coalition of one kind or other. For the last sixty years Libs and Nats have even campaigned for office as THE Coalition. Together they have proved successfully enough that policy differences – sometimes even quite major ones – are no impediment to running the country.
When it comes to getting legislation through a Senate where The Coalition is outnumbered, conservative politicians have done well enough too. When a few hundred million for Tasmania here or a presidency of the chamber for a Queenslander there were insufficient there was a DLP hatred of Labor to rely on or a Democrat death wish to exploit in the name of good government. The Liberal-National coalition has always managed to stagger through.
With such a history of success perhaps too much should not be made of the new form of coalition that the Coalition will need to build via the Senate after 1 July. Clive Palmer and his PUPs might make for eccentric voting partners but they are not a collection of raving lefties. There will be some amusing horse trading at times but conservative positions should normally prevail. Generally Prime Minister Tony Abbott should be able to govern and where he cannot – the paid paternity leave scheme comes to mind – there will be many in his own proper Coalition who will be very grateful.