Major parties lose in WA election

The votes from Western Australia’s by-election on Saturday are being counted, and it appears there has been a swing away from the major parties. Just under 70 per cent of the vote has been counted, and so far Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party (PUP) has picked up 12.5 per cent of the vote, putting Dio Wang, PUP’s WA candidate, in line to enter the Senate on 1 July.

Greens candidate Scott Ludlam, who gained international fame after this video of his speech attacking Tony Abbott and the Coalition went viral, has also secured his seat, with a swing towards the Greens of over six per cent.

Both major parties suffered a downturn in votes of about five per cent, although both are hopeful of winning the final sixth seat. The Australian Electoral Commission has announced that it could be weeks, however, before the final results are known.

The Coalition has been attempting to repeal both the carbon and mining taxes since it won the September 2013 Election. Labor and the Greens, who currently hold the majority of power in the Senate, have voted down these attempts.

When the new Upper House sits on 1 July the balance of power instead looks likely to be held by a cross bench of up to eight minor-party Senators. Three of these spots are likely to be held by PUP, and a fourth will be held by Victoria’s Motoring Enthusiasts Party, which has signed an agreement with the PUP, giving Clive Palmer control over four votes in the Upper House.

Mr Palmer has been openly critical of both the mining and carbon taxes, however, there are a number of issues on which he does not agree with the Coalition’s position, so the Federal Government’s hope of a more ‘amenable’ Senate may be in vain.

Find out more at the ABC News website

Watch the results as the votes are counted

Opinion: Australians are fed up

It’s interesting that, in both the 2013 Federal Election and in this by-election, Australians chose to vote for minor parties over either the ALP or the Coalition. In fact the number of votes for minor parties in the 2013 Federal Election broke records. I think this paints a very clear picture of just how fed up the Australian electorate are with politics at the moment.

The two major parties are much more similar than they would have us believe. Neither one sits on the extremes of politics – one is simply a little to the left of the other. I think the fact that it is the minor parties which are getting votes, minor parties which fall on the more extreme sides of both left- and right-wing politics – the Greens and PUP – should be a message to the Government that something needs to change. We are bored by Labor’s infighting, confused by the Coalition’s time travel (are knights and dames really the most pressing issue in Australia Mr Abbott?) and sick and tired of broken promises on both sides.

I am personally concerned that a mining magnate will hold the reins to such power in our Government come 1 July, especially since he spent over $5 million on his election campaign in WA (he has been accused of buying votes – can you see why?). But I do think it will be a very interesting time in politics, with both major parties trying to curry favour with the more ‘radical’ elements they would normally dismiss.

What do you think the Coalition and Labor need to change in order to win back the voters? Do you think that party diversity in the Senate is a positive step, or is it just going to cause confusion and infighting? And do you think it’s a positive development that such splinter groups can stand for the Senate?