A week later than perhaps the Prime Minister would have liked, the Coalition Government has claimed victory, albeit after Bill Shorten first admitted defeat.
Edging towards a majority with 74 seats currently won and hopeful of winning a further two, Mr Turnbull told the waiting media at a press conference in Sydney yesterday, “This is a great day today.
“We have resolved this election and have done so peacefully. It’s something we should celebrate and not take for granted.”
Gracious in defeat, Bill Shorten offered to work with the Government to find “common ground” and make parliament work, a gesture that Mr Turnbull welcomed. Promising to work with Labor to ensure essential services are funded, while maintaining a balanced budget, Mr Turnbull said, “It’s vital that this parliament works — it is vital that we work together and as far as we can, try to find ways upon which we can all agree.”
Should the Coalition indeed secure the 76 seats needed to form a majority government, the relationships it builds with key crossbenchers, such as Independent Bob Katter, will be vital to ensure that parliament can fully function as it should. The need to select a speaker also places pressure on Government numbers.
This is something of which Mr Turnbull is undoubtedly aware, already promising additional staff and resources to crossbench MPs, just as Labor did following the hung parliament of 2010. However, he played-down the possible impasse that crossbench MPs could cause. “There were eight crossbenchers in the last Senate. What you’re saying is that there will be one more. There will always be crossbenchers in the Senate,” Mr Turnbull said.
The ministry will have a different look, with several Liberal MPs losing their seats. The Liberal partyroom will meet next week, on 18 July, to allocate portfolios.
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With the country in limbo for the past week, the news that we will have some kind of stability on the political horizon is good, regardless of your party preference.
Mr Turnbull’s first action as re-elected Prime Minister has been to announce that he will involve himself in Victorian state politics and the ongoing dispute between Premier Dan Andrews and the CFA. Speaking to the Herald Sun yesterday, Mr Turnbull said, “It is now up to (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten to work with the government to prevent this union takeover of the CFA and enshrine the rights of volunteers.”
With the best will in the world Malcolm, you have bigger fish to fry on a national level – leave state politics to the states.
Political divide and disenchantment with what has occurred over at least the last two years has undoubtedly led to the rise of fringe parties, such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. We have seen in very recent times the damage that such parties can do in the Senate, blocking every bill and piece of legislation, and placing the country in a political limbo that is neither good for the spirit nor the economy. It is however these very crossbench MPs that will have to keep the Government honest and ensure that some of the stagnant legislation that has been parked, either due to it being difficult to pass or not particularly appealing to a voting public, (remember the plan to raise the Age Pension age to 70?).
Pre-election promises and policies must now be the Government’s focus, as well as those issues, such as a Royal Commission into the banking industry, that have been overlooked or dismissed as not important.
The voting public have made their thoughts very clear – the Government has not been doing a good job and it has one last chance to rectify its failings or it will very soon be at the mercy of every Tom, Dick and Pauline who believes they can take it on.
Noting that his granddaughter was sitting on his knee when he took the long-awaited call from Mr Shorten, the PM said, “That’s a moment I’ll never forget.
“It was a reminder that we are trustees for future generations. Everything we do is about the future.”
Let’s make sure he doesn’t forget why he is where he is.
What do you think should be the Government’s first move? Is there an issue that has been put on the back burner in the lead up to the election that now needs to be addressed?