June 18th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Deregulation cause of dairy industry crisis

CANBERRA OBSERVED Double-dissolution election likely to deliver disillusionment

EDITORIAL Turnbull keeps his smile as all around lose theirs

LIFE ISSUES Infant viability fails to wake upper house interest

GLOBAL ECONOMY A generation left to twiddle its thumbs

LOCAL GOVERNMENT Amateur hour at the Brisbane City Council

EUTHANASIA Too quick a leap to counsel of despair

CULTURE WARS Australia Council cuts funding to Quadrant

SEXUAL POLITICS Gay "marriage" and the given in human procreative behaviour (Part 2)

FEDERAL ELECTION How to ensure your Senate vote goes all the way

PHILOSOPHY John Haldane holds true to faith-reason nexus

HISTORY The Chinese in Australia: not the story you've heard

MUSIC The times it takes to reach eternity

CINEMA Madcap adventures in the Kiwi bush: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

BOOK REVIEW The curate's egg

BOOK REVIEW That other great Irish prelate


 A day in the life of a religious white man from the point of view of evidence and truth

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Double-dissolution election likely to deliver disillusionment

News Weekly, June 18, 2016

Part of Malcolm Turnbull’s rationale for calling a double-dissolution election – the first in 29 years – was to clean out the cumbersome Senate of renegade and recalcitrant independents.

Boy, am I redfaced .. or,

is that, greenfaced?

Hard to tell in shades of grey.

Mr Turnbull, like Tony Abbott before him, was frustrated at having to negotiate with the disparate group of self-important independents who had found themselves able to wield enormous political power. Some were there seemingly by accident, some on the back of a handful of primary votes, or, in the case of the ex-Palmer United Party or the ex-DLP senators, were living off the spoils of their former parties.

In any case the reformed Senate voting system, designed collaboratively by the three major parties, but abandoned opportunistically by the Labor Party at the last minute, was meant to rid the Senate of the rabble.

It would be then ironical indeed if a re-elected Prime Minister Turnbull found himself having to deal with a new cohort of renegade MPs in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

One prominent rabble member, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, is almost certain to be re-elected.

Opinion polls halfway through the marathon eight-week election campaign suggested that up to 15 per cent of voters had parked their voting intentions with independent and micro parties rather than with the two major parties. Another 10 per cent were siding with the Greens.

It is likely that, as polling day gets closer, many of these voters will move back to the major parties. However, the polls suggested either a strong sense of disillusionment with the major parties, a high degree of antipathy to the election itself, or a combination of both.

Nick Xenophon is polling 22 per cent of the primary vote in South Australia, throwing up an election result that could give the Senator up to three Senate spots in SA, with more than a third of voters in that state abandoning the major parties. Mr Xenophon has been a master at magnifying single issues (anti-poker machine and pro-seafood labeling stances, or example) into issues that exercise people’s voting intentions.

Such is his popularity in the state that the party’s candidate is a chance to win the former blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Mayo, held formerly by Alexander Downer, but now held by Jamie Briggs, whom Mr Turnbull stood down as a minister.

According to The Australian newspaper, an analysis of its Newspoll figures from the previous two months reveals that the primary vote for the “Nick Xenophon Team” is now just five points below that of the Labor Party.

Since the 2013 election, Labor’s primary vote has dropped from 35.7 per cent to 27 per cent in SA, while the Coalition’s primary vote has dived from 44.9 per cent to 34 per cent. Success for Xenophon in SA would be likely to rob the Greens of a Senate seat in that state.

Minor parties or those with high-profile “names” could also pick up seats in Tasmania, where Jacqui Lambie may win back her own seat and pick up another as well.

In Victoria there is a possibility that broadcaster and lead candidate of the Justice Party Derryn Hinch will get up, while in Queensland perpetual candidate Pauline Hanson or even former Palmer United Party senator Glenn Lazarus have an outside chance.

Overall, it is the Greens that will benefit most from the new voting system, which will make it difficult for the minor parties to collect sufficient preferences to reach a quota.

Rather than maturing as a political party, the Greens seem at this election to be equally if not more irresponsible than in previous elections in terms of their policies. These include $1 billion for bike paths and $340 million to employ firemen to fight the coming fires caused by global warming.

And their aggressively anti-religion and specifically anti-Christian policies seem to be intensifying in terms of marginalising and disenfranchising people of faith.

But, should Mr Turnbull be re-elected by a slim margin, it will be the Greens that will make up the majority of the minority parties.

Former Howard government minister Peter Reith fears the new Senate will not be much different from the previous one with the Labor/Greens/Xenophon plus extras likely to block government legislation regardless of the result of the coming poll.

In that case, says Reith, the country could be heading for another double dissolution until the logjam in the Senate is cleared or until the Senate accepts that the government of the day has a right to its mandate and the Senate resumes its former role as a house of review.

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