Australia: Julia Gillard Forms Minority Government

Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo from the Flickr page of Troy used under CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic

The election waiting game is over in Australia. Julia Gillard has formed a minority Labor government:

Julia Gillard has just scraped back into office as Prime Minister after the independent MPs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott announced they would support Labor to form a minority government.
Labor over the line: Windsor and Oakeshott hand power to Gillard

The Prime Minister is a controversial figure: left leaning, never married, no children, de facto relationship, non-believer. Graham Young of editor of Online Opinion shared some research on the impact of religion at his polls website WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT:

Research by John Black confirms that Labor lost the Christian voters it gained last election, but did better with atheists and agnostics. But the Christians were more potent, living in key electorates. Non-believers were highly likely to be Greens voters.
Christians and atheists – post election analysis

Grog’s Gamut gained a national reputation as an astute political blogger during the campaign, particularly for his criticisms of media coverage. He has now turned his focus to the future:

But what now for the ALP?

My advice – don’t be timid. Yes it is “fragile” but the biggest fault they could do is to not do anything for fear of upsetting someone.

The number one lesson of the Rudd Government is that people want decisions taken. Don’t worry if it is unpopular, worry about whether or not it is a good decision. And if it is a good policy, then argue its case – be an advocate for it, not a salesperson.
Election 2010: Game Over (or, Fibre to the Lodge)

John Styles, editor of Australian Conservative and contributor to The Spectator Australia views events from a very different point:

By supporting the Labor Left-Greens alliance, the so-called Independents have shown contempt for their conservative constituencies…

He attacks both independents, who are former members of the conservative National Party, but saves his strongest condemnation for the independent Rob Oakeshoot :

Here was Oakeshott admitting that he was giving crucial support to a party he didn’t believe in. He described his decision as ‘unnatural’. How about bizarre, weird, crazy? How about calling it just plain nuts?
Aren’t elected representatives supposed to serve the voters?

Jane writes at Sanity * Sustainability, a blog ‘about sustainable community, the transition from cannibal consumerism to peaceful well-being and personal spiritual discovery’. She sniffs some fresh potential that minority government may bring to a stale parliamentary system:

The most curious thing about this whole episode is that in spite of a dreadfully boring campaign, even more dreadful reporting by the media of the boring campaign and a system designed specifically to serve the interests of two major parties who serve big business at the expense of the community, the electorate of Australia has managed to make itself heard.

My favourite post comes from Cristy, a 38-week-pregnant feminist and political tragic from Canberra, Australia’s Capital. I found her In a garden…. somewhere :

Now, of course, we have a new government (and thank goodness it is a Gillard-led minority government – I have a hopeful feeling that I am going to like her far more in governing-mode than I did in campaigning-mode) and it is time to move on with life. But given that I am now over 38 weeks pregnant this is no simple matter. Life in these last weeks of pregnancy kind of resembles life under a shifting minority government – you really have no idea from one day to the next what will happen. Even worse, unlike the situation we just went through as a nation, no one else is really interested in endlessly speculating about what might happen when and there is even less concrete information available on which to base such speculations.
Limbo Land

‘Chief Blogger’ at Right Pulse sees the deal by the independents in clear combative terms. It is “ the Great Betrayal”. He/she advocates adversarial politics as usual by the Opposition parties:

One can think of many issues to attack the government’s credibility on. Carbon taxation, energy prices, budget deficit, mining tax, etc… then add in some of the more extreme Greens policies and you have fertile ground to hunt down the government.
The smell of blood – Gillard’s – It’s not over yet II UPDATE

Right Pulse is not alone in these sentiments. The new Australian Tea Party uses sexual imagery in its attacks, claiming that “people power” has stopped independent Oakeshott from taking a position in the government as Regional Affairs Minister:

No two ways about it, if Oakeshott had not been email bombed with over 5000 hostile responses to his treachery and intimations he was going to grab a ministry from Labor to seal his whoredom, he would today have announced himself as the new Minister for Regional Affairs.
Unfaithful Elector Oakeshott has lust for power curbed… by PEOPLE POWER

The Possum at Pollytics is best known as a psephologist for his statistical analyses of opinion polls and elections. Whilst he may use an alias, he does not hide his progressive politics in this assessment of the road ahead:

With so many having invested so much in the defeat of the Labor government… to be denied victory by political inches, leaving a fragile incumbent holding the most delicate of majorities and being reliant on a handful of cross-benchers representing ideologically discordant electorates, creates a result that will not be respected.

Possum expects a rough time ahead from both the opposition parties and the conservative media:

What we will witness over the next 18 months or more is a Great Unhinging –an orgy of hysterics that will far surpass the duplicity, dishonesty – let alone the complete arsehattery – that substituted for public debate on matters of government during the previous 12 months.
Let the Great Unhinging begin

So, it’s game over and game on! Australian politics have not been so unpredictable since the days of Gough Whitlam’s Labor government of the early 1970s.

As I write, it has been announced that deposed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will be the Foreign Minister in the Gillard government.

(Personal disclosure: I have been a member of the Australian Labor Party since 1972.)

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