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UPDATED: Julia Gillard is our new Prime Minister

Australia’s first elected female PM

Soooo. Where were you when you heard the news? Or are you sitting in front of your computer hearing it now? Me, I was in Melbourne shopping centre (Chadstone, they have GAP kids but I digress….) sitting in one of those lounge-ish areas streaming ABC24 live coverage of the independents’s press conference on my phone.

Next to me, sat two gay dads with their newborn son. I know they were gay dads because I did that stare thing that I do when I’m fascinated to know the story behind interesting looking strangers.
They were blissfully unaware of the unfolding drama, completely wrapped up as they were in their new baby. I wanted to hug them (and sniff the baby – just a little bit – but thought that might not be so well received).
Clearly, I was not in Far North Queensland, anywhere near Bob Katter’s electorate because there are no gays there (see video below from Q & A last night where Bob Katter swore his electorate was homosexual-free….).
I sat there listening and watching the press conference on my phone for, oh, I don’t know, 100 years listening to Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott talk. And talk. And talk. And then, I got up and went to GAP kids, with my earphones in.
And Rob was still talking.
And then I lost the will to vote ever again because COME ON JUST SAY IT ALREADY.
I must say it all felt a little anti-climactic in the end…..
Where were you? And what do you think?
Here are the fact-y bits you’ll need to know:
Bob Katter backed the Coalition (effectively splitting the formerly united front by these 3 rural independents) and Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott backed Labor, handing them a majority in the lower house. Julia Gillard offered Independent MP Rob Oakeshoot a ministry in the government. Most likely to head up regional reforms. He has not decided what he will do with this as he has a young family. His wife is about to give birth to their 3rd child.

Tony Abbott has phoned Prime Minister Gillard to congratulate her.

Mr Oakeshott warned, “This is not a mandate for any government… this parliament is going to be different.”

Its the slimmest ever margin in the 150-member House of Representatives, with Julia Gillard’s Labor government gaining the support of 76 MP’s. The coalition has 74.

And here is the press conference from Julia and Wayne Swann after they learned they had been handed power by the independents:

Some “Independent” background from MM political editor Julie Cowdroy:

What have the independents been deciding for the past 16 days?

 

They are deciding which major party they will give their support to. This support means that the independents vow to support the party of their choice in terms of confidence motions and supply. In the minority government situation that Australia faces, there is a chance that the weakened government could face a “no confidence” motion. This is where the party in Opposition moves for the House to vote for “no confidence” if they feel the Government is not governing properly. If a no confidence motion were put to the House by the Opposition, then the independents will not vote against the government that they have chosen. Supply is where bills are put forward that are to do with the budget. It is important in managing the economy that these bills be passed to keep the country running and the independents pledge they will not block supply to ensure the economy keeps ticking over.

The independents are also deciding on which government can best represent what they believe to be in the nation’s interest. We have seen Rob Oakeshott call for parliamentary reform and had both parties sign off on his request. You can read about the reforms here. Katter has a 20 point plan including no carbon tax or mining tax. You can read more about his requests here. Windsor is asking for … well, not quite sure what he wants.

Greens’ MP Adam Bandt has pledged his support to Labor in terms of confidence and supply, as well as other concessions such as a climate change committee and a parliamentary debate on Afghanistan. You can read more about the ALP/Greens deal here.

Tony Crook is the West Australian MP who is a member of the Nationals who took power from Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey. He has pledged his support to the Coalition but will sit on the cross benches. This means he won’t attend Nationals’ or Coalition party room meetings, but has promised his support in terms of confidence and supply.

What will the role of the independents and Adam Bandt be after a decision has been reached?

They will continue as they have done in previous parliaments and scrutinise legislation. However in terms of confidence and supply they will support their chosen government. In terms of the new parliamentary reforms, the independents, Opposition and Greens’ member can put bills to the house and have them costed (couldn’t do that previously) so that the House is more informed about certain pieces of legislation. Also we will see some interesting pieces of legislation introduced by Adam Bandt such as gay marriage and euthanasia which may lead to more conscience votes (where MPs don’t vote along party lines, but rather as their conscience would see fit).

Will the new government have the power to actually do anything or will independents continue to have the same amount of power?

The new government will have limited power compared to what they have been used to having. The new reforms mean the legislature (parliament) have more powers than they used to have. It used to be a very Executive focused structure, but now the rest of the parliament will have more agency. Also, there is a stronger chance for new and interesting pieces of legislation to be introduced by the independents and the Greens. Things will take longer to pass through the HOR but there will be more examination on bills, and don’t forget that this scrutiny will continue in the Senate where the Greens hold the balance of power.

How do you feel?

Here is Bob Katter last night…

And this may make you sing

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