Would the Australian people be forced back to the polls in another election if neither side wins a majority in the House of Representatives at the election? The most likely answer is 'No'.
There is a general principle that the outcome of an election and the will of the people must be respected. Politicians can't simply reject election results and tell the voters to try again until they get it 'right'.
There is an obligation on all parties in a hung Parliament to give effect to the will of the voters and to make government and Parliament work. For this reason, there is a strong constitutional convention that a prime minister who doesn't achieve a majority of seats in the Lower House at an election cannot simply advise the Governor-General to hold a new election.
Instead, Parliament needs to be convened and an effort has to be made to form a government and make the Parliament work.
What the major parties actually have planned for the economy is still a live question, and not just because of the challenges we face. As Tim Colebatch points out today, we are now only 25 days from the election, and we still haven’t heard from the Opposition about its costings.
“The Coalition has barely entered the macro-economic debate, except to point to any bad numbers,” he writes. “It has outlined dozens of new spending promises and tax cuts, but few spending cuts to offset them. At different times last week it claimed these add up to $13 billion, or $15 billion or $17 billion.”
Mind you, Labor’s economic policies are in many ways just as vague. The core of the Government’s argument to be a better economic manager is that it navigated Australia successfully through the GFC. But it did so with a large fiscal stimulus; it is unclear whether a third-term Rudd government would be brave enough to again spend up big to increase economic growth. Considering the hammering it has taken for its deficit spending, you’d have to question how likely another round of stimulus would be.
What about micro-economic policies to increase productivity, or cut red tape? Again, both parties are largely talk, with little substance. The Coalition has a plan to build a “five-pillar economy”, but details on this pentagonal wonder are hard to find. How will the Coalition drive growth in one of those five pillars, education and research? Apparently, according to the Coalition’s “Our Plan” brochure, “by removing the shackles and burdens holding the industry back and by making the industry more productive and globally competitive.”
To an extent, politicians surrender their privacy for the privilege of office, though there’s still argument about whether they have any right to bleat when their family's holidays snaps are published, or when every of their private encounter is recorded.
But their family members don’t – or shouldn’t – lose their right to privacy for choices they haven’t made, unless they do so voluntarily. And the private lives of the staff of politicians, even if they’re family members, shouldn’t become open books from which publishers rip pages.
Publishing a private Facebook photo of the prime minister's son and linking it to a policy the newspaper presumably feels is unfair to its readership seems unfair and invasive. What exactly did News Corp learn from Leveson?
You have to salute the courage of Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson and Finance Department secretary David Tune. Under serious pressure from their next political masters to produce a set of numbers favourable to the Coalition, they have stood their ground.
Up until Sunday’s debate, we heard grumbles that this election is too personality-focused. The beef was that the last few months in political news had been consumed by conflict and drama. “MPs” are “Media Personalities”. Good entertainment, bad news.
Now, it seems we’d like a bit more charisma. There’s certainly evidence to suggest that Australian media politics is lagging on this score. We just need to understand that this isn’t about the individual foibles that lead to wooden note-reading and finger pointing.
Globally, personality politics isn’t about personality: it’s about what happens when changing political systems, media businesses and public sensibilities collide. On this count, data suggests that Australia falls toward the bottom of the pack in the world of “celebrity politicians”.
"The polls point to an easy Coalition win. Could they be wrong?" pjblack.me/1d5UIcH #ausvotes #auspol
Under either set of assumptions, current polling points to the Coalition almost surely winning. The polls would have to be wrong in a way that we haven't seen in previous Australian election cycles for any other conclusion to hold.
"Is Kevin Rudd right that GST could be changed without the states?" pjblack.me/1d2DMUt #ausvotes #auspol #lwb242 #auscon
Might cities today be functioning in similar ways, as drivers of bold new political ideals and practices uniquely suited to the 21st century? Do cities hold the key to our democratic future? Senator Scott Ludlam thinks so.
A definite cut above most other politicians down under, Ludlam has city life and urban thinking hard-wired into his political genes. He's highly knowledgeable on the subject. Politically wise for his young age (he's 43) and now campaigning for re-election in Western Australia, he tells me during our recent breakfast in Sydney that cities are becoming political laboratories.
'Much has been said and written about sustainable cities in recent times', he says. 'There's a wild flowering of creative theory and practice going on.' We're now on the cusp of an urban tipping point. 'The future is here', he adds, borrowing words from William Gibson. 'It's just not widely distributed yet.'
Scott Ludlam's no utopian; he's better described as an imaginative realist. That senatorial quality radiates across the table as we talk through the upsides and downsides of present-day city living. We begin with the grim.
Abbott wants to be a prime minister known for both truthfulness and economic management. But he's busy making promises that bring the first intention into direct conflict with the second.
Debate rages on between political adversaries and policy commentators following Tony Abbott’s commitment to cut the company tax rate in Australia by 1.5% from 1 July, 2015. What are the facts behind the promise? What would this mean for Australian businesses? Are the Coalition’s costings reasonable?
The news that the election has been called has given me a curious feeling that I've struggled to identify.
It's too numb for despair and too sad for apathy.
Let's call it 'sigh-full' - an emotion best expressed by a sigh.
I have a dim memory of entering an election booth, taking my pencil in hand and definitively marking '1' in a box. The object of my decisiveness was Paul Keating. I often disagreed with him, and felt he lacked humility. But I never doubted the keenness of his intellect or his statesmanship.
I'm nostalgic for a time when I did otherwise than work backwards from the most to the least baleful option on the ballot box.
Is this what democracy is supposed to be? A contest between gag reflexes?
All of which has started me thinking about what it would take to go out on polling day without throwing up a little bit in my mouth.
Tony Abbott said John Howard's Green Corps 'failed to make a difference' in 2010. So why is he rolling out a rehashed version of the policy now? Georgina Moore reports - See more at: http://newmatilda.com/2013/08/13/abbotts-recycled-green-army-policy#sthash.lfHFNk6E.dpuf
Let us thank Kevin Rudd for reminding voters that "great big new tax" scare campaigns are a bipartisan affair.
The sole hook for Labor's claim that the Coalition will increase the GST is Joe Hockey's promise to conduct a review of Australia's taxation system that would include the GST within its terms of reference. (Kevin Rudd's Henry Tax Review specificallyexcluded the GST.)
From that, Rudd has concluded that the price of Vegemite will rise 50 cents under the Coalition.
Pretty deceitful, but such is politics. And let's not be precious. Recall the often farcical tabling of electricity bills by the Coalition in the last parliament. When a politician wants to make an argument - right or wrong - they'll stretch the truth to breaking point. Whatever works.
But the carbon tax has nothing on the GST. The GST is the great bogey-tax of our generation.
While election campaign politics is commonly a room-by-room rattenkrieg battle, fighting for every reference and quote, the fear that this blatant propaganda will automatically swing the election is considerably overdrawn. Research into the impact of political communication helps us put the effect of this reporting into perspective, because it shows that media audiences are not as susceptible to this type of campaign as they are commonly assumed to be.
Former House of Representatives speaker Peter Slipper has left the door open on his future in politics, saying he currently intends to contest the federal election.