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Australian Elections: Labor Sailing Close To Defeat …

  • August 22nd, 2010
  • Posted by 7thmin

tony-abbott-2.png  julia-gillard.jpgThe first-term Labor Party government elected three years ago has suffered losses to left and right in elections (21.8.10), with results on election night indicating a hung parliament.


Projections made for the national broadcaster, ABC, towards the close of counting on election night showed the outgoing government unlikely to get more than 72 seats out of 150 in the House of Representatives.

However with an expected five members on the cross benches, and some five seats in doubt, it appeared the Liberal /National Opposition parties also would be unlikely to get a majority.

The national result, with 76% of votes counted:

ALP –      38.1%, -5.3%, 70 seats won, (15 lost).
Liberal-NP -  43.7%, +1.6%, 72 seats (15 gained).
Greens  -  11.6%, +3.8%, 1 (0).

Independents – 3 seats, 4 possible.

(3 unallocated, on available figures).


One of the three sitting independent MHRs (all former conservative party members) said that in the event of deadlock the group would meet behind closed doors, to “decide on a process”. (A Green Party member has been elected to the lower house, and another independent, formerly Green / a self-described “centrist”, was thought likely to be elected in Tasmania).

Liberal Party leaders said the party would demand the option to lead a minority government because of holding the largest number of seats, highest primary vote, and a majority of two-party preferred (the tally of votes after third-party support is transferred to the two main parties). [Two-party preferred shifted after polling night, with Labor now ahead, 24.8.10 – ed.].

However Liberal ambitions in government would stand to be limited by the upper house of parliament, the Senate.

The Green Party made strong gains and is expected to hold the balance of power in that house, once new members take their seats there in a little under one year’s time  – and so be in a position to block government moves and negotiate for its own priorities.

The party leader, Senator Bob Brown, said it would “help drag both big parties into the 21st Century”, on its demands for going ahead with the present government’s National Broadband Network, a carbon tax against global warming, large investment in education, aggressive land care in the bush, and change on social issues, such as same-sex marriage rights and more humane treatment of asylum seekers.


The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, told an election night crowd she’d had “positive and productive” relations with Green Party and independent members, with whom the main parties might be negotiating.

“There are anxious days ahead; we don’t know what the outcome will be”, she said.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said: “We do not have a clear result … but Labor definitely has lost its majority … and its legitimacy.

“The election was to some extent a referendum on the execution of a Prime Minister … “.


The Australian election contest had an injection of drama with the sudden emergence of the two new party leaders; Abbott defeating his predecessor in a party room coup (42 votes to 41, 1.12.09), (and scuppering his key policy that backed carbon pricing); Gillard similarly displacing the then Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, on 24.6.10 – almost immediately going to the polls.

The swings against Labor were concentrated in the populous States of New South Wales and Queensland (the latter, Rudd’s home base, registering the biggest change); regional issues playing heavily in both cases.

The Australian government like others around the world was side-tracked from its set program by the global economic recession.

It had definite successes with an open-handed stimulus program, but break-downs with the implementation; and may now follow the precedent of other Australian Labor governments elected with high expectations, which then foundered on a world economic slump — in 1932 and 1975.


ABC (Australia), “Election Live”, 21.8.10.…, (21.8.10).