Well, we had a Federal Election in Australia this weekend and the voice of the Australian people has sounded a resounding “meh”. We have a hung parliament, meaning neither major party won enough seats to claim an outright majority – the usual way a government is formed. However this ends up (and it could take quite a while to resolve) who ever forms government will be a minority dependent on independents and Green or two to continue in government.
Besides making politics in this country a bit more interesting, the resolution might make a few people a bit more aware of the some facts about the constitution. Because it seems like a significant chunk of this country is completely oblivious to how things actually work in this country.
I got so sick of people saying during this campaign that they didn’t vote for Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. First, because the fucking morons saying they were concerned about Kevin Rudd getting knocked off by his own party were Liberal voters anyway and they hated Rudd. I am not a huge fan of lying hypocritical scumbags who refuse to admit to their true motivations.
Second, the public NEVER votes for the Prime Minister. The public votes for their local member of parliament. The leader of the party that forms government is automatically the PM and they are voted leader by their own party, not the public. And even more important, the PM is NOT the head of state in Australia. They run the government of the day but they are not the head of state.
We are a constitutional monarchy and our head of state is the Monarch of England, currently Queen Elizabeth II. On a day to day basis she is represented by the Governor General who is appointed by the Australian government (i.e our head of state is elected by nobody). Look up November 11th 1975 if you can’t see any problems with that. So the Governor General has to agree with whoever declares they should head up the forthcoming minority government.
Here’s what’s likely to happen:
* Prime Minister Julia Gillard constitutionally has the first opportunity to form a new government, regardless of whether her Labor party has won more seats than the conservative opposition.
* Gillard would meet Governor-General Quentin Bryce and advise her of Labor’s intention to form a new government.
* Once a new government is sworn in, a parliamentary sitting would be held as soon as possible to determine whether Gillard’s new administration had a workable majority in the lower house.
* The opposition would then call a no-confidence motion to test her minority government’s support in parliament.
* In order to survive that censure motion, Gillard would have needed to reach an agreement with enough independent MPs and/or Greens to form a government, including guarantees from them on the passage of annual budgets.
* Legal experts say this process could take several weeks to play out, with Labor and the Liberal-National opposition likely to engage the independents and Greens in behind-the-scenes negotiations to see which major party can win them over.
* There is another, more unlikely scenario in the event that the opposition forges a quick alliance with independents before Gillard has a chance to consult the governor-general.
* In this case, Gillard could in theory advise the governor-general to initially swear in a Liberal-National minority government. But this is unlikely because there’s nothing in the constitution that would force her to do so – which will drive Liberal supporters crazy.
So, in short, nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen. And whatever happens, it’s almost certain that the side that finds themselves in opposition won’t stop complaining until after the next federal election. Whenever that is.
And here’s my video explanation: