May 18th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Green energy policies freeze out the poor

EDITORIAL Religious freedom will be suffocated if ALP elected

FEDERAL ELECTION Majors fling barrels of pork in the way of disillusioned voters

CANBERRA OBSERVED If independents rule in House, stability is a goner

SOCIETY 'Ladies Wanted' flyers lure women into porn

CULTURE AND SOCIETY The last of his tribe

ECONOMICS Trading in the toxic legacy of neoliberalism

TECHNOLOGY The wheels come off Tesla's electric dream

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki Part 1

STATE POLITICS Notes from the hustings

A TRIBUTE TO LES MURRAY A man of the Word: the poet and the Logos

MUSIC Workhorse themes: Sonic sub-rhythms

CINEMA Avengers: Endgame: Marvellous final chapter

BOOK REVIEW The left has our schools in bondage

BOOK REVIEW Philosopher hits all the right notes

OBITUARY Bob Hawke: astute politician; flawed policies


EDITORIAL How Scott Morrison routed Labor, the Greens, GetUp and the left media

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If independents rule in House, stability is a goner

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, May 18, 2019

Should the May 18 election end up being a close result, the outcome of a gaggle of independents and minor party members controlling the House of Representatives looms as an unwelcome prospect.

Such a result would be bad news for Labor, which would have to cut even more bad deals than it did under Julia Gillard with the insatiable Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Greens in control, but even worse for the Coalition, which would be unlikely to be able to form government.

 As things stand, Labor remains favou­rite to win the election in its own right.

Bob Katter is perhaps the only
true independent in Parliament.

At present, the House of Representatives has three independents: Andrew Wilkie, who represents Denison in Tasmania; Julia Banks, the former Liberal member for Chisholm, who is now contesting the seat of Flinders; and Dr Kerryn Phelps, who is re-contesting Wentworth.

The fourth independent, Cathy McGowan, is retiring from politics, but another independent candidate, Helen Haines, is hoping to step into her shoes in Indi in Victoria. Haines, however, is far more left wing than McGowan, and does not have anywhere near McGowan’s local profile.

The “others” in the House of Representatives include Rebekha Sharkie, who is the sitting member for the former safe Liberal seat of Mayo in South Australia, but who now represents the Centre Alliance Party; the Greens’ Adam Bandt, who has a stranglehold on the seat of Melbourne; while Bob Katter is the untouchable member in Kennedy in far north Queensland, where he stands as Katter’s Australian Party.

Amongst sitting MPs, only Bob Katter could be considered anywhere near a conservative, but, as everyone knows, Katter is nothing if not his own man.

Katter supported the Morrison Government for the past six months or so on the basis of pushing forward on his lifelong dream of big irrigation projects in his electorate, including the Hell’s Gate dam.

Katter is probably the only true independent in the Parliament.

Seats where “independents” are gaining traction in the 2019 campaign include Warringah, where Zali Steggall is challenging Tony Abbott; Cowper, where Rob Oakeshott is trying to take back the seat left vacant by the retiring Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker; Indi, where Haines is trying to keep the Cathy McGowan dream alive; and Farrer, where Albury Mayor Kevin Mack is mounting a challenge against sitting Liberal MP Sussan Ley.

Gilmore in NSW is another complex seat. There, former ALP president Warren Mundine is the endorsed Liberal candidate running against the Labor Party. But he is also battling against Grant Schultz, who had been originally preselected by the local grassroots of the party. The Nationals are also running in the seat, so it could end up with anyone winning.

The reality is that there is no such thing as “the independents”.

If anything, political activist group GetUp, which is not registered as a poli­tical party, is the driving force behind the independents, running Steggall’s campaign to knock off Tony Abbott, and strongly backing Phelps, Haines, and Oakeshott. GetUp, which is funded in part from overseas interests, is not subject to the same laws and ethical behaviour as poli­tical parties, yet can manipulate election results with impunity, spending millions to unseat candidates that don’t suit its ideology.

According to the ABC’s resident psephologist, Antony Green, of the 108 independent candidates at the 2016 election, 84 lost their deposits after polling less than 4 per cent.

Only seven independent candidates polled more than 10 per cent, and just four gained more than 20 per cent. Two were elected (Wilkie and McGowan).

In fact, since 1950, only 12 independents have been elected to the House of Representatives and most of them have had past connections with one of the major parties. In fact, five of them were former members who had been disendorsed by their parties, including Katter, a former Nationals MP.

The upshot is that voters very rarely vote for an independent in the House of Representatives.

Yet votes for minor parties and independents have grown in recent years, with 23 per cent of votes cast at the 2016 election going to candidates who did not belong to the major parties in the House. While in the Senate the non major party vote was even more pronounced, at 35 per cent.

Australia’s two-party system has been taking a major battering in recent years, but the fact remains that there are only two to choose from – the Liberal and Nationals Coalition or the Labor-Greens alliance.

Voting for people who purport to be independent, but who are in fact part of the GetUp disrupters, only adds to the political instability that the independents claim to aim at fixing.

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April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm