The election is now considered over, and so, here's an updated account.
The rules: There are 150 electorates in Australia, and each is represented by an MP which means that there are 150 MPs in the Federal Lower House - so, 150 MPs from 150 electorates sit in the 150 seats in parliament. In order to win power one party must have the majority - that is, 76 MPs (half, plus one.) The recent election was so close we ended up with something like 72 seats each to the two major parties ALP and the Liberal/National Coalition, with Greens and Independents holding the balance of power. So the two major parties has spent a good week or more trying to woo the said Greens and Independents. Now they've finally decided, so perhaps it is a good idea that we get to know them and their decisions.
MEET THE MOST POWERFUL MEN IN AUSTRALIA AT THE MO':
The Honourable Bob Katter, Independent MP for Kennedy: also known as 'Katter the mad Hatter', this extremely eccentric politician was originally a member of the National Party, but had a massive dispute and is now an Independent who hates the Nationals, in particular Barnaby Joyce. Despite being eccentric, Katter is extremely conservative and represents an extremely conservative electorate (his electorate, incidentally, is massive - about the size of Spain, I am told. Geographically, not, like, population wise). So, despite his dislike of the National party, he's sided with the Coalition.
The Honourable Adam Bandt, Greens MP for Melbourne: ousted the ALP in the super hip and trendy inner Melbourne electorate. Adam Bandt was (I think) the first of the Greens/Independents to declare his support of ALP (the ALP and Greens have strong ties - not quite a coalition, but still, strong.)
The Honourable Andrew Wilkie, Independent MP for Denison: Tony Abbot made a big boo-boo here in offering billions for Andrew Wilkie's two requests: refurbishing a hospital and a resolution to problem gambling. Nobody knows where the hell Tony Abbot is going to get this money from. Julia Gillard's offer was in the millions, but it comes out of her proposed Health scheme, and she's also promised a commitment to reducing problem gambling. Tony Abbot now has a reputation of a reckless try-hard weirdo (amongst other things), but Julia at least is taking a sensible approach.
The Honourable Rob Oakeshott, Independent MP for Lyne: Another independent. I don't know much about him other than he came to his senses and voted for the ALP. Former National.
The Honourable Tony Windsor, Independent MP for New England: Another former National, Tony Windsor has a particular dislike of the party, especially it's former leader, Barnaby Joyce. Supports the ALP.
To get an idea on how crazy this week has been, with 'the useless duck mounted on a faceless man' (Julia) and 'the stutterer mounted on his twelve-speed' trying to woo these MPs, here is a song from the last Yes We Canberra! episode, about dear old Bobby Katter:
...which shows that even one of the most powerful political men of the time still don't get any respect in Australia.
Some things about the song:
- The song: Is a rendition of Waltzing Matilda, the unnofficial national anthem of Australia (the official anthem is Advance Australia Fair, which replaced the British anthem God Save the Queen).
- Madman: Bob Katter is known, amongst other things, as 'Katter the Mad Hatter'.
- Camping by billabongs: Bob Katter is a country MP, and a grazier.
- Acubra (or three): Bob Katter's trademark are his ridiculously enormous hats.
- Permits for billy-boiling: One of Katter's most recent quotes is that he complains that you 'cant even boil a billy these days', or words to that effect - reference to the super-strict fire-prevention rules in Australia.
- Faceless men: nickname for the people who ousted Kevin Rudd, and have basically hijacked all power in the Labor government, but we don't know who they are but Julia has to keep them happy or she'll get ousted too.
- Banana imports: most Australian farmers are strongly against importation of...anything, really.
- Courting: unofficial term for the ALP and the Coalition trying to win the support of the Independents.
- Stutterer: Tony Abbot is known for being a bit of a big mouth: this in turn has earned him a reputation as a heartless sexist psychotic weirdo. So during this campaign, in which he had to woo everyone he had pissed off in the last decade or so, he constantly had to watch his tongue, which led to some pretty spectacular stutters.
- Twelve-speed: which is a bike, btw. Tony Abbot is known for doing ridiculous amounts of exercise but not having the body to match.
- Climate-deniers: people who don't believe in climate change caused by human activity (i.e. most of the Coalition).
- 'jolly dumb(beep): All the Independents hate Barnaby Joyce. So do I. So does the entire nation, really.
- Camping, fishing, shooting: all of these activites are strictly controlled by environmental laws, and all the old-fashion folk think it's impinging on culture or whatever. Do you know Australia has the worst track record when it comes to species suddenly dying on us?
- Billybong: slang for drugs.