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Waiting for the Three Wise Men… August 27, 2010

Posted by Sean Welsh in politics.

A week after the Federal Election the outcome remains uncertain. The fate of the nation lies in the hands of the Three Wise Men: Katter, Windsor and Oakeshott. There is also Wilkie an independent independent who has won Denison and Crook the WA National that defeated Wilson Tuckey in O’Connor who is being decidedly coy about his support for the Coalition. However, Wilkie and Crook are political neophytes (quite unwise men in their utterances to date) and are simply not playing the cool hand that the far more experienced Three Wise Men are. The Green likewise has been unwise perhaps blowing his chance to be Speaker – and getting a Minister’s staffing resources – by siding with Gillard too soon.

Then again, the numbers being what they are, and the fact that stability and process reform is something the 3 Wise Men want as well as the Greens would both indicate that the Green will probably become Speaker and only vote with the Government to break deadlocks.

As to which way they will go, it seems to me more likely that the 3 will back Abbott over Gillard. Katter was a minister in the Bjelke-Petersen government and wants a dam built in his electorate. Yes, a dam. Remember those? Windsor chose to back the Coalition over Labor when he was a State MP enabling Greiner to form a government. Oakeshott comes across as very idealistic and keen on reform of parliamentary process and culture.

So they have made 7 requests of the caretaker government – and after some arge and barge Abbott has agreed to let the 3 Wise Men get briefings from public service officials.

The serious negotiations will start only when the postals are counted and the seats are declared. The 3 are all unassailable in their electorates. They are all experienced and capable men. It seems their ambitions (mostly to reform parliamentary process) are laudable. So I am content enough to wait patiently for them to decide who to support.

However, the pro-Labor vote in their electorates is 8, 13 and 20 per cent. Thus propping up Gillard seems to me relatively unlikely.

What will probably happen is that the Nationals will back their demands for more regional funding and the Coalition will get the nod and the guys in the metropolian areas will pay the bush a lot more attention for the next three years.

And why not?

Abbott will not be able to call an early election as the 3 Wise Men will tell toute le monde that they will support the formation of a Labor govt.

So I imagine the Green or perhaps Wilkie will become an independent Speaker accepting a mandate to reform parliamentary process (a cause much beloved of minors and independents) giving Oakeshott the buffer he wants to permit more stable government. One or more of the 3 might get a Ministry to seal the deal or they might choose to remain outside the government. It would be truly audacious to lure Kevin Rudd across with an offer of the Foreign Ministry but I think having a Green or Independent Speaker more likely – purely for stable majority buffer purposes.

The Mining tax will be scrapped and some “Royalties for Regions” type funding initiative will come to pass. The NBN might morph into an RBN (Regional Broadband Network).

Who knows? Bob Katter might even get the Hell’s Gate Dam built…

That would be a thing. Though it is a State matter, there is the considerable power of tied Commonwealth funding to encourage these things.

Abbott’s anti-Wild Rivers Private Member’s Bill will probably become a government bill. Or then again with a Green speaker it might be discreetly dropped. A necessary quid pro quo

We live in interesting times…



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