This afternoon, we’re promised, we will find out where the three Country Independents will jump. Personally, my money’s on Labor. Only two of them have to go to Labor to guarantee another Gillard government, but they have been talking about wanting to move as a bloc, so it is possible that they’ll all lump in with the Coalition, giving them the 76 seats they need.
Thus far, Labor has been more responsive to the trio’s demands on costings and reform; the Liberals’ $11 billion budget hole didn’t help matters at all. Katter naturally aligns a lot better with the Coalition (in fact, he’s far to the right of them, being a Sir Joh man himself), but he has admitted that during their 12 years in power, the Coalition didn’t do squat for the country. I’ll point out that in the last Queensland state election, the Liberal party was routed – they ended up with so few seats that the Queensland Nationals actually dissolved the Coalition in that state. I wouldn’t be surprised if Katter held the federal Coalition in similar regard. The federal National Party certainly doesn’t seem to hold any sway in policy.
Meanwhile, seeing where Oakeshott and Windsor will jump is sort of like reading tea leaves. I said before that my money’s on Labor; this is just a sense I’m getting from them. Labor’s responsiveness and what the two (mostly Oakeshott, Windsor has been a bit quieter) have been saying. It’s just the impression I get, really.
If both of those go to Labor, you can bet Katter will follow. He’s been setting this up, with his comments about the Coalition failing the bush. You can also bet that he won’t want to be the useless 74th seat on the Coalition minority. Much better to get in with the side in power. Labor, meanwhile, might be better off without him, but they can’t exactly say no to him without annoying the other two, since they have wanted to move as a group. I do worry about someone so stone-age and what he’ll do to the party’s political stances.
Fortunately, all three have been immune to the barrage of ‘Beware the approaching Left-wing dooooom!’ that came out over the weekend. A chorus of current and former Liberal Party voices echoed the same claim, that the next Labor government would be ‘the most Left-wing in history’, thanks to the alliance with the Greens. At no point did they illuminate us on exactly why this would be a bad thing. Yet again, it’s the importation of an American meme: “Barack Obama is the most liberal member of Congress,” voters were told, despite the fact that his voting record put him at centre-left compared to other members of Congress, and actually slightly to the right of the population. Again, in both cases, nothing was said about exactly what would change, or why a left-wing government would be necessarily so terrible. Just vague warnings of: ‘Doooom!’ that might have come from any bad fantasy-novel oracle.
So we’ll see what happens this afternoon. Cross fingers, everyone.