With the wonders of hindsight I can see what an excellent job the Coalition did on the Greens. I should have factored the attacks on radical Green policies into my calculations. Because of them the vote for minor parties went down and down with it went Labor’s chances.
The Greens did not even manage to pick up the votes of those who this time deserted the Australian Democrats. Greens and Democrats combined in 2001 totalled 10.4% of the House of Representatives vote. That figure this time was down to 8.1%. The only significant newcomer to the minor party ranks was Family First and their preferences helped replace the losses that the Government side lost from the collapse of One Nation.
John Howard now has the opportunity to really put his stamp on the future of Australia. For his first three terms his agenda was hampered by a hostile Senate. From 1 July next year when the Senators elected on Saturday take office the Liberal-National Parties could even have a majority in their own right. Even without such an absolute majority, the support of a Family First Senator will enable them to get far more of their agenda adopted than has been possible over the last eight years. Not since the days of Malcolm Fraser has a Government actually been able to govern unhindered by blackmailing minorities.
John Howard will enjoy that power. Peter Costello will have a while to wait yet before settling in to the top job.