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Australian Election Outcome: I Should Have Trusted Harry The Croc More!

Chris Ford
Chris Ford

I should have trusted more in the judgement of Harry the Croc about the Australian election outcome.

Just two days before the election, this famous amphibian resident of Darwin Zoo (who has a reputation similar to the soccer World Cup's Paul the Octopus for accurately predicting sporting contest outcomes) had two photos placed before him. One was of incumbent PM Julia Gillard and the other of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

From his swampy pond, Harry chewed up Gillard's mugshot, declaring her the likely winner.

Recently, in this blog, I foresaw a different outcome than Harry in the wake of the hung House of Representatives result. Don't get me wrong, the three key Independent MPs, Tony Windsor, Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott were former National (Country) Party MPs. One would have expected them to have held true to their beliefs and backed the right-wing opposition over the centre-left incumbents.

Instead, two of them, Oakeshott and Windsor, swung to Labor and along with the Greens Adam Bandt and Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie, they gave the ALP the 76 seats they needed to form a government. And this didn't come without some costs attached, as should rightly be the case. Oakeshott and Windsor were won over with promises to reform parliamentary procedure and make government more accountable. They were also promised that rural Australia would be no longer be neglected by the federal government. In this respect, they were swayed by the promised billions that the ALP will spend on the National Broadband Network (NBN) and that rural areas would be prioritised for connection to it. Also, a new agency called Regional Development Australia will be created to provide advice to government on rural community needs and oversee the distribution of the agreed largesse.

This left Tony (Mad Monk) Abbott to protest that the ALP would abandon many of its election pledges to satisfy its new partners. Far from it. The former National Independents have made a brave decision to support a second-term ALP Government which will continue to spend proportionately more than the Coalition would on crucial areas like health, education, economic development and the environment. At the same time, the Greens with one lower house seat and in holding the balance of power in the Senate will be influential in keeping Labor to the left. Another positive is that, with parliamentary reform, the democratic process will get a huge boost.

So congratulations to the lone Green and three Indepdents for making the right (left) call! It saved Australia from becoming the next Western nation to fall into conservative hands. After all, a narrow majority of Australians rejected a return to the Howard years if the two party preferred vote count is anything to go by. And that's a good thing!

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