Australia needs to go to an election — soon. Fortunately, the latest the people of Australia get to cast their vote is May.
In the context of the Federal Government losing a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 90 years, it is difficult to view the position of the current government as tenable.
If such an event occurred during the first or second year of a parliament, it could easily be viewed as a vote of no-confidence and give rise to demands the Prime Minister should visit the Governor-General and ask him or her to dissolve the parliament immediately.
Instead, we must endure more months of squabbling and inaction with parliament barely sitting, culminating in an election budget and five-to-six weeks campaign even though the actual campaign began the day Malcolm Turnbull was sacked by his own colleagues, six long months ago.
One thing to emerge from this slow-motion train-wreck is the power of independents in a hung parliament.
The defeat of the government in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, and then again in the Senate yesterday with the passage of the Migrant Amendment (Urgent Medical Bill) 2018, also known as the Medivac Bill, displayed how much influence independents can wield.
These events would never have occurred during more traditional times when almost every member of parliament belonged to one of the major parties.
Julia Banks, Cathy McGowan, Dr Kerryn Phelps, Rebekha Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie, along with the Greens’ Dr Adam Bandt, inflicted a humiliating defeat on the government, the likes of which has not been seen since 1929.
The impetus has been building for decades as the major parties slowly leak support to independents and minor parties and the construction of parliament shifts further and further away from the now quaint notion of ‘‘both sides of politics’’.
The ABC’s election expert Anthony Green has torn up his prediction formulas for next month’s NSW election, claiming swings are now too hard to calculate given the myriad number of candidates in play.
We look forward to the federal election, and when it finally eventuates hope the people of Australia deliver a more coherent government.
We also hope the government is capable of operating in this new paradigm and does not look to the old one, mired in confrontation politics and opposition for the sake of it.