Australia woke up thinking “What was that all about?” this morning, as the result of the 2016 election that Malcolm Turnbull promised would return stability to Australia is so close, the result won’t be known for days.
In encumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech, he said he had “confidence” they would be returned to power, but at this stage, the Liberal/National coalition only hold 65 of the magic 76 seats needed to secure government in the House of Representatives.
“I can report that based on the advice I have from the party officials we can have every confidence that we will form a Coalition majority government in the next parliament,” Turnbull said to his supporters at the Sofitel last night in what some commentators called “not gracious” because of his vaguely veiled threats of legal action on Labor for their campaign on saving Medicare.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten was ebullient that Labor was back already after only three years in opposition. The Liberal coalition was expected to win back power easily as the Australian electorate is traditionally reticent to throw out a government after only one term, but Labor mounted a surprisingly difficult challenge for a first-term opposition and Shorten was visibly energized by the close result.
“Friends, whatever happens next week – whether we are in government or in Opposition – the Labor Party is re-energized, it is unified and it is more determined than ever,” Bill Shorten said to the party faithful.
Pundits were up to until the early hours of the morning commenting on the count, with delirium from the unusually long election campaign breaking through the gravity. Primary voting was low for both the major parties, with independents, the Greens, and the newly formed Nick Xenophon party enjoying success from a disgruntled electorate.
Election day promised to be interesting from the very start, with both the traditional parties, Labor and Liberal, feeling the pinch from the third party, the Greens, in the increasingly progressive inner city Melbourne, with volunteers taking excessive measures to mitigate their success. An ex-Labor politician, Peter Batchelor, was caught in the early morning ripping Greens’ bunting from a school-yard fence with his bare hands, and a Liberal volunteer scuffled with a Greens volunteer, biting her while trying to pull her phone from her. In the hotly contested seat of Higgins, Kelly O’Dwyer ran a very tight race with a young Greens hopeful Jason Ball.
When Australians awoke this morning, many results were still undecided with no relief in sight as counting will not recommence until the votes have been secured on Tuesday.
If Malcolm Turnbull’s confidence comes to fruition and the coalition of the Liberal and that National party are able to form government, commentators are warning they are unlikely to find much joy in the new make-up of the upper house of the senate. If Turnbull was hoping the outcome of the double-dissolution election was likely to make the senate more friendly to the coalition’s agenda, he failed. The Sydney Morning Herald is predicting populist Senator Nick Xenophon’s party will pick up some seats, the Greens will return in force, and on the other side of the fence, the right-wing Halal conspiracy-theorist, Pauline Hanson, is likely to be a dominant voice in the new-look senate.
The Twitterverse awarded moment of election night to Iranian born Senator Sam Dastyari, when he invited the new Senator Pauline Hanson to celebrate with him with a “Halal snack pack,” a delicious combination of fries, spit-roasted meat, salad, and gravy in a styrofoam pack. Pauline’s flighty reaction quickly went viral.
[Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images]