News Election 2016 So much for Turnbull’s promised stability
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So much for Turnbull’s promised stability

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Whatever happens with the tortuous vote count, Malcolm Turnbull is in turmoil.

The best case scenario is a majority government with the slimmest of margins, maybe one or two seats. The next best is a minority Liberal government supported by one or two on the crossbench.

The very worst: losing by a seat to a minority Labor government.

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The latest numbers posted on the Australian Electoral Commission’s website have Labor in front with eleven seats in doubt. If those eleven seats are allocated on which party is currently leading, the end result would be a tie. Seventy two seats each with six on the cross bench.

No one in the Labor Party thinks it can form a majority government. They are holding their collective breath on being able to out negotiate Malcolm Turnbull with the crossbench should there be a tie.

nick xenophon
Nick Xenophon could be key to both major parties. Photo: AAP

But here it will get very hard for both of them. The Greens are ready to deal with Labor, Bill Shorten is resolutely ruling that out. It makes you wonder what he is saying to these and other potential king makers in his preliminary phone soundings.

It is not only the major parties who are wary of repeating the look an odium of the Gillard template from the last hung parliament. The independents too are gun shy.

Tasmania’s Andrew Wilkie and Victoria’s Cathy McGowan are resolutely against signing up with either side. They prefer to treat issues on their merits. Wilkie won’t even promise not to support or move a no confidence motion.

Nick Xenophon, who could have two on the crossbench, and Bob Katter are more nuanced. Both have a shopping list they want met in return for support. Last time Julia Gillard failed to play ball and Katter sort of backed Tony Abbott by promising not to support a no confidence motion. Mind you, he made the same promise to Gillard.

If no one wants to do a formal deal, the Governor-General may have to rely on the good faith of either major party leader advising him they can retain the confidence of the Parliament. By convention if it’s a tie the G-G may first ask the caretaker Prime Minister for that advice.

But even if Turnbull gets the nod or the slimmest of majorities his troubles will only be beginning. Already his party’s conservatives are restive. They are in no mood to let the moderate Turnbull off the leash.

Cory Bernardi: agitating on behalf of Abbott loyalists. Photo: AAP.
Cory Bernardi: agitating on behalf of Abbott loyalists. Photo: AAP

Already the outspoken senator Cory Bernardi is blaming Turnbull’s small “l” agenda and failure to go for Shorten’s jugular for the government’s parlous position.

Bill Shorten, who has proved himself a wily and tough politician, is also serving notice that he will be putting maximum pressure on a weakened Turnbull who he says is “not up to the job”.

Already he is committing to fight hard for the package of policies he took to the people: an end to the Liberal squeeze on Medicare, a royal commission into the banks, no tax cuts for big business and a parliamentary vote on marriage equality.

Of course, how either man as prime minister will get anything they want to do through the Senate is another thing. Julia Gillard had a Labor Greens majority in the red chamber. That luxury is no longer there.

For the Liberals, they would need nine of the 10 crossbench to support their bills if Labor and the Greens are opposed. That cross bench would have Pauline Hanson with possibly three in her camp as well as three Xenophon senators.

So much for Turnbull’s promised stability. If it gets too hard an election next year can’t be ruled out.

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