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Death of majority governments

By Everald Compton - posted Monday, 20 June 2016

The Australian Election of 2016 will result in a hung parliament in both Houses.

This political deadlock will be profound, significant and long term, causing a long awaited upheaval in the structure of political parties.

A majority of the population will be horrified with this event, but a sizeable minority will welcome it as it will give democracy a genuine chance of working effectively.


The situation with the current election is that voters look at the Coalition and the ALP and think of them as the political equivalent of Coles and Woolworths, doing their best to manipulate humanity and lock us all into their tiny world of endless power struggles that have little to do with the enhancement of humanity.

Many Aussies are now looking for the political equivalent of Aldi and hope that the Greens, Xenophon or Independents may become an Aldi or another business that looks like it may be an honest disrupter.

Indeed, we are rapidly moving forward to a day when most voters will not be rusted on to a major party. When I grew up in the 1930’s only 10% were not locked in to left or right. Now, this number is at least one third and growing. If it continues in this way, and I reckon it will, we will soon reach a point where Australia will never again have a majority government and this will be a many splendoured thing.

The question is will this be all that bad?

The first step in answering this question is to remember that, for the first decade after Federation in 1901, Australia did not have a majority government. We had six Prime Ministers, two of whom actually served twice, thus making eight leadership changes. Political Parties were small and plentiful and the Senate was hopelessly fragmented.

Nevertheless, in those ten years,  some of the most important and long lasting legislation in the history of the nation was passed and Australians enjoyed reasonable prosperity.


It happened because Barton, Deakin, Watson, Reid, Fisher and Cook were not ideologues, treated one another with civility and met regularly to agree on what would go through the Parliament and what would be tossed in the dustbins. It was a world of intelligent compromise and it made most voters feel that their views got a good go from time to time. It was a beautiful exercise in democracy and we desperately need it now in our troubled world of 2016.

Can we achieve it again? The answer is Yes.

My forecast for 2 July 2016 is that Independents will do well in the House of Representatives. Windsor, Oakshott, McGowan, Wilkie and Katter will win and a relatively unknown Independent could beat Abbott. A former WA Liberal MP could exact revenge on his old Party.

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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