Come Saturday night, we’ll have exercised our franchises, democracy will reign triumphant and, best of all, the nation will have been dotted with election night parties. After that, given the distinct possibilities of a hung Parliament and recalcitrant Senate, the hangover can begin in earnest
Even if you have voted before (early and often), this coming election may have some last-minute surprises. Below, an easy-to-grasp Q&A guide so your election day/night goes smoothly — even if the months and years that follow almost certainly won’t
1. How can I tell if my seat is swinging?
Wobble a little, and check in a mirror. Also peer at the power poles near
your place. If every second pole has a face on it, your seat is swinging.
If there is a wine bar on your street corner, a nearby shop that sells old
vinyl records, and old flyers for a Bob Dylan concert attached to the
much-graffitoed wall of a warehouse converted into apartments, your seat is
definitely swinging. If you can see snow on nearby mountains, your seat is
probably swinging. If everyone at your local shops is wearing tweed jackets
and skirts, probably not.
2. Where can I meet my member?
If you live in a swinging seat, just open your front door. Your member may
well be on your doorstep, about to ring the doorbell. If you live in a safe
seat, forget it. Apply in writing three months after the election, when they
get back from an information-gathering trip to Waikiki on sand erosion.
3. Where can I check my local member’s views?
Take a stepladder to where they live, set it up out front, and check
their views yourself. On the other hand, look for revealing articles your
member may have written in a relevant publication. In Liberal seats, try
The Spectator. In National ones, try The Land. In Labor ones, try The Union
Voice. If you are unusual enough to have a Green, check Sustainability Week
(on-line, of course).
4. Do you have any tips on allocation of preferences?
It depends if you are hovering above or below the line, and in the upper or
lower house, and have much of your crayon left or are down to the last piece
of lead in your pencil. In the lower house, all boxes need to be filled
with different non-zero integers. (This will give the scrutineers a
headache!) In the upper house, depending on how many boxes you feel like
numbering, your vote may turn out to be informal, formal or casual Friday
without a tie.
5. Are minor parties looking to get up this time?
No, Young Labor and the Greens are looking to GetUp. Bill Shorten was once
a board member of this “independent” organisation, which proves its
independence. Globally, GetUp is allied to Move On – but apparently the
“occupy” Wall Street protestors weren’t listening to either instruction.
6. How soon will we know if Parliament is to be hung?
As soon as Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor finish speaking. Look on TV in
the background behind the Parliament’s political reporters to see if any
scaffolds are being erected out front. If Bill says he is a bit crook and is
consulting with a doctor, Parliament is well hung. If Malcolm says he will
legislate for gay marriage while personally burying coal in the ground and
welcoming asylum seekers ashore, Parliament is well and truly huung.
7. Is a joint sitting of both Houses on the cards?
If a bill remains stuck in the Upper House after a double dissolution
election, a joint sitting is one possibility. If a Bill of another variety remains stuck in the
Lower House, Albanese and Plibersek will not yet fallen upon him. The probability of a joint
sitting depends most on whether the ACT approves full marijuana
decriminalisation soon. Otherwise they could all cross over into Queanbeyan
and apply for Baird’s terminal illness cannabis scheme (TICS).
8. Will Party Leaders likely change after this election?
Yes, if the Liberals are re-elected, Malcolm may change immediately into his
Napoleon Bonaparte Republican Uniform. And Shorten may end up Balkanised
i.e. replaced by Albanese or Pliberserk.
If there is a hung Parliament, Malcolm could re-emerge as leader of an
ALP/Green coalition — since Shorten has ruled out leading such a two-headed
monster, and the great Paul Keating suggested they be crushed underfoot.
If Labor wins, Shorten will be leader until Plibersek decides otherwise.
(Ask Julia.) And Malcolm may be off to the Cayman Islands, safe in the
knowledge that if he sits on his money pile, rising sea levels will never
9. How soon can I look forward to the plebiscite on same sex marriage?
If Bill wins, never. If Malcolm wins, possibly never if the Senate
refuses to pass the plebiscite bill. Look, having a plebiscite might divide
the country and stir up divisions and even unhelpful hatred — much as a
general election does — which is why it may be wrong to hold a plebiscite.
Or another general election after this one.
10. So, will there still be another election in three years?
Possibly – unless North Korea or Iran has launched a nuclear weapon, the
warming/rising sea has swamped Point Piper, China has enlarged its maritime
protection zone to include Hobart, or Malcolm has been made President for
Life, after being kissed on his ring by Peter Fitzsimons.