Greens’ Senate vote may restrain an Abbott government

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The-Greens2

In reporting the Australian election campaign most journalists have focused on how many Lower House seats Labor will lose.

But with a Liberal/National victory now certain, more attention should be paid to the Senate race.

Currently the Greens hold nine Senate seats, giving Labor+Greens 40 seats in the 76-seat Senate. Because only half the Senate is up for re-election every three years, only three of the nine Green senators are up for re-election. If Greens do as well as in 2010, when they won six seats (one each in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia), they would end up with 12 Senate seats – perhaps enough to hold the balance of power, even if Labor lost some Senate seats. It may be a harder ask for the Greens to win six seats this time around even though they’re polling near the 11.8% they got in 2010. Under the Senate’s STV preferential voting system, a lot depends on how Labor, the Liberals, and smaller parties, direct their preferences. This time around the Liberals are taking a harder line against the Greens, preferencing Labor over the Greens – even though it could result in a bigger Labor presence in both the House and the Senate!

The Greens are running a strong campaign around the message that only by the Greens continuing to hold the balance of power in the Senate will the hard right agenda of an Tony Abbott government be restrained.

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Currently the Greens hold nine Senate seats, giving Labor+Greens 40 seats in the 76-seat Senate. Because only half the Senate is up for re-election every three years, only three of the nine Green senators are up for re-election. If Greens do as well as in 2010, when they won six seats (one each in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia), they would end up with 12 Senate seats – perhaps enough to hold the balance of power, even if Labor lost some Senate seats. It may be a harder ask for the Greens to win six seats this time around even though they’re polling near the 11.8% they got in 2010. Under the Senate’s STV preferential voting system, a lot depends on how Labor, the Liberals, and smaller parties, direct their preferences. This time around the Liberals are taking a harder line against the Greens, preferencing Labor over the Greens – even though it could result in a bigger Labor presence in both the House and the Senate!

One thing boosting the Green vote is the Labor’s sharp swing to the right under Kevin Rudd. Over few days many a Labor supporter would have winced at Rudd’s gungho support for an air strike on Syria – while Abbott advised caution.

Greens are the only party standing up for asylum seekers and pushing for strong action against climate change, including an effective carbon tax. A lot of the Green themes are similar to here: affordable housing, support for renewable energy, more accessible education, a jobs programme, fairer welfare, and better public transport (including fast-tracking high-speed rail).

As Greens leader Christine Milne puts it, the party is distinguished by its “advocacy for the future, not the past; advocacy of kindness; and advocacy of environmental care.”

1 COMMENT

  1. {Paragraph duplication: “Currently… [to]… House and the Senate!”}

    The details of how the Aus Senate works in practice are fascinating. We need to open up the legislative council’s room for senators ourself (though 76 is double, even triple what we need).

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