After weeks of negotiations it was confirmed today that Julia Gillard will remain as Prime Minister of Australia leading a minority government with a majority of 1. The embattled incumbent Prime Minister fought tooth and nail in the days and weeks following the election to ensure that her Liberal/Coalition rival Tony Abbott did not succeed in ousting her and the ruling Labor party from office in the wake of one of the closest election results in Australian history. I have always had a healthy interest in international affairs and as such kept a close eye on developments down under and with each day that passed I became more convinced that my preffered candidate, Tony Abbott – dubbed “the mad monk”, would succeed in forming a minority government.
The wrangling and negotiating in the wake of the result became known as Australias latest “soap opera” and there was high drama right to the finish line. The question of who would become Prime Minister leading a minority government all rested on just 3 independent MPs; Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. To add to the suspense Katter announced shortly after lunchtime that he would be backing Liberal leader Tony Abbott meaning Abbott and the Coalition needed the backing of just one more of the 2 remaining independents in order to form a minority government. However the remaining two of the one time “three amigos” came out in a joint press conference just an hour later and confirmed they would be backing a Gillard led government. Ghastly Gillard had done it.
I am disappointed with this result but at the same time I am in no doubt that there is only one real winner in this election; Tony Abbott and the Coalition. Under his leadership the Liberals have gone from rank outsiders to within a hair’s breadth of securing enough seats to form government and whilst Gillard may be in government she has a huge job to do to prove shes in power. The Coalition won more first preferance votes, more second preference and more seats than their Labor counterparts but were denied the opportunity to form a government by their wretched electoral system; AV – the same system the Liberals here in Britain have been yearning for.
As the great Dan Hannan so eloquently points out the timing of this announcement couldn’t be more apt because as the House of Commons debates changing the UK’s strong and stable FPTP electoral system to AV, Australia is waking up to a government that actually lost the election in terms of seats and first & second preference votes. Instead of winning the popular public mandate they have been propped up and propelled back in to office not by the majority of the Australian people but by the good will and grace of 2 independents. Thats the real “fairness” of the AV system and I for one do not want to see that kind of “democracy” imposed on us.