Current official numbers from the Australian Electoral Commission (5:30pm, Monday the 4th) are:
- Coalition: 64 likely with another 3 possible.
- Labor: 69 likely with another 2 possible.
- Undecided: 6
The House of Reps has 150 seats, and 76 are required to form government.
The possibilities are:
1) Either the Coalition or Labor get 77 seats. This is a clear majority and government would be formed. According to the Australian Electoral Commission this is impossible for the Coalition, and exceedingly unlikely for Labor.
2) Either the Coalition or Labor get 76 seats. This is still a majority, and government can be formed, but then the government would still need to appoint a Speaker, and the Speaker doesn’t vote (except in the case of a tied vote). This would mean either they appoint a member from their own side, and have only 75 guaranteed votes on the floor; or appoint someone else as the Speaker and have 76 guaranteed votes, and a potentially hostile Speaker. Again, according to current AEC numbers this isn’t possible for the Coalition, but possible for Labor.
3) Either the Coalition or Labor get 75 seats. This is not a majority, so at least one independent or member of another party would need to support them for them to become government. The same issue with the Speaker arises in this case.
4) Both the Coalition and Labor get less than 75 seats, but one of them is able to get independent and/or other party support for a government. Still potential problems with a Speaker.
5) Both the Coalition and Labor get less than 75 seats, and neither of them are able to get sufficient support to form a government. The Governor General then orders a new election to be held and we try again.
A number of the members of the crossbench (the elected members of the House of Reps that are not part of the majority party and are also not part of the Opposition) have stated that they will not under any circumstances “form government” with either of the major parties. This does not mean that we’re all doomed, it simple means they won’t vote in lockstep with either of the major parties. They may still support one side or the other to form a government, but that simply means they will vote in support of supply bills and in votes of no confidence. Anything beyond that will need to be negotiated each and every time.
Important thing to note: If option 5 occurs and we go back to the polls, this would only be a House of Reps election. It WILL NOT effect the Senate in any way. The elected Senators are in it for the next three or six years, depending on which seat they got.
For us to go back to a full election, someone would have to form government, and then try and pass bills that fail that trigger another double dissolution election.
With the likely looking makeup of the Senate, that is actually not an improbable thing to occur.
Note: results obtained from the AEC tally room: http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseDefault-20499.htm
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