Today, the 226 members of Australia’s 45th Parliament will be sworn in.
Among the 76 new senators will be four new senators from One Nation, Nick Xenophon and two running mates from his namesake party, Derryn Hinch of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and familiar faces Jacqui Lambie, David Leyonjhelm of the Liberal Democrats and Bob Day of Family First.
Yes, the bar from Star Wars is back and it’s welcomed a few new members. Conventional wisdom is that the double dissolution election was intended to clean out the chequered cross bench that made Australia ungovernable for three years. Apparently, it has made the problem worse.
So next week, as we political tragics watch the unruly spectacle of all these new characters taking their place in the Senate, Labor will blame the impending chaos on the Turnbull Government. Specifically, on its reforms to Senate voting rules that, according to Labor, opened the door for One Nation’s dramatic revival.
Pauline Hanson’s second coming, they will tell us, is all Malcolm Turnbull’s fault.
How do we know? Because it’s the line Labor has been pushing for weeks.
In fact, Bill Shorten was blaming Pauline Hanson on the Liberals less than 48 hours after polling day. Taking time off from day one of his cross-country ‘victory’ lap, Shorten said that the Government’s Senate voting reforms ‘have made the situation worse.’
‘How on earth did Mr Turnbull think that an idea of reform could end up with two or three One Nation Senators in the Senate? This is farcical,’ Shorten said.
That line has had a good workout since then by Labor politicians galore. But unfortunately for Labor, the argument does not stack up.
Firstly, Pauline Hanson would have won under any system. One Nation’s vote of 9.14 per cent in Queensland means that Hanson comfortably achieved a quota in her own right (even with the higher quota under a ‘normal’ half-Senate election).
As for the other three One Nation senators, chances are that most of them would have won under the old system as well. The reason for this is that One Nation polled strongly enough in every state to have enjoyed a strong flow of preferences under the kind of complex preference-swap arrangements that we would have seen after the success that ‘preference-whisperer’ Glenn Druery enjoyed in 2013.
In fact, under the old system the new One Nation party room would probably be even bigger.
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