It’s finally happened. September 7 has been and gone, Kevin Rudd has conceded, and Tony Abbott is well and truly set for three years as our new Prime Minister. If you’ve heard anything over the last 24 hours, it is that Australia is now officially, ‘under new management’. But, what actually happened last night? I may not be Antony Green (nor be equipped with his amazing range of touch-screen statistics), but I will tell you all of the key details you need to know.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last day, the Coalition are set to form government – admittedly, what’s been expected for the last six months. The question now turns to how large the margin is, and how many seats Labor will use, both in the Lower and Upper houses.
The polling (9pm Sunday) showed the following:
- The Coalition has gained 16 new seats, following a swing of 3.51% towards the party and an overall 53.31% two-party preferred vote;
- Labor has lost 4 of its seats, correlating with an overall 46.69% two-party preferred vote;
- The Greens have retained their single Lower House seat of Melbourne, despite a nationwide swing against the party of 3.4%.
Possibly the largest surprise, however, is the sudden popularity of Clive Palmer and his self-titled Palmer United Party – whilst his quest to become an MP (and not-so-eventual Prime Minister) is still undecided in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax, he’s looking more and more likely to take a seat in the privileged green hub of Canberra.
There are still approximately 8 seats that are undecided – including Mr Palmer’s seat of Fairfax in Queensland, Eden-Monaro, Barton and Reid in New South Wales, and the shock inclusion of Indi in Victoria’s north-east, held (at least at this stage) by outspoken Coalition MP Sophie Mirabella. You’ll have to stay tuned over the next week to see how the polling turns out!
Nationally, the swing against the ALP is somewhat smaller than the pollsters predicted (I’ll leave you statistics afficionados to decide whether that’s a surprise). Therefore, at present the literal ‘state’ of play in each of Australia’s battlefields is as follows:
- VIC – Victoria appears to be the state that has ‘turned’ on Kevin Rudd, with three of the state’s most marginal seats, Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe (holding margins of less than 2%) falling to the Coalition following a 5.9% statewide swing. As noted, the Greens also retained their only House of Representatives seat in Melbourne, whilst the seats of Indi and McEwen remain undecided.
- NSW – Despite predictions of massive swings against Labor in western Sydney, the overall toll – with between five and six seats going to the Coalition – was lower than expected. Michelle Rowland managed to hold onto her posting in Greenway against Jaymes Diaz (who infamously failed to remember the six points of the Liberal’s Six Point Plan), however Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury has been de-seated by the candidate with the most ‘sex appeal,’ according to Tony Abbott, Fiona Scott.
- QLD – Kevin Rudd appears to have benefited from an element of home-grown pride, with virtually no seats changing hands State-wide. The most notable change however is the probable elevation of Clive Palmer into the House of Reps (with PUP appearing to enjoy most of the disillusioned Labor vote), whilst ‘maverick’ MP Bob Katter struggled to hold onto his own seat.
- SA – Little changed in SA, with Sports Minister Kate Ellis retaining the seat of Adelaide, however the Coalition did manage to scalp the seat of Hindmarsh to the city’s south.
- WA – WA also proved to be one of the nation’s most stable states, with very little activity; deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop well and truly retained her seat, as did every other sitting party.
- TAS – Tasmania has proved to be one of the greatest surprises of the election: an 11.14% swing against Labor has seen the party lose all four of its seats in the region, including Dick Adams’ unseating in Lyons by Liberal candidate Eric Hutchison; not a bad effort, given Mr Adams has held the seat since 1993.
- NT – As with WA, the Northern Territory has proven to be the most stable region in the nation, with only a 0.48% swing against the ALP. It is unlikely any seats will change hands.
It would appear now that the most intriguing element of this election will be what happens in the Upper House – all thanks to the 97 separate candidates, who contributed to the near-metre long white Senate paper we received on Saturday (if you voted below the line, good effort).
At this stage, the Coalition is virtually doomed to not hold a majority in the Senate, meaning it will need to put its negotiation skills to the test upon the change in seating effective from 1 July next year. On current projections, the Coalition will hold 32 seats, Labor 25, and the Greens will hold 9. The most interesting element, however are the 8 seats expected to be held by ‘other’ parties. Strange preferencing arrangements (you can read about Nick Xenophon’s reaction to the count here) between the minor parties mean that we are likely to have representatives of both the Australian Motoring Enthusiast’s Party, the Sports Party and PUP (all formed in 2013) representing our interests. Why the Pirate Party hasn’t been granted a seat, we will never know.
Simply, what happens now?
Before we can actually refer to Tony Abbott (technically) as Prime Minister, the new government must be sworn in by Governor-General Quentin Bryce, following her grant of permission to the Coalition to form government.
On the other side of the coin, however, Kevin Rudd revealed that he would not contest the Labor Party leadership, sparking endless rumours about his successor. Betting is currently on either Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese (deputy PM for the next week) to take on the post, however both are being decidedly evasive on their chances.
Most importantly however, hopefully now the long-suffering Australian public will enjoy a well-earned rest from the months of speculation and political bickering that has plagued the public sphere. That’s if we don’t have a double dissolution election over the removal of the carbon tax…