With final election results still in limbo, three of the independents likely to hold power have released a list of demands. They are actually calling them, “Requests for Information,” but much of the information they are requesting are written undertakings for specific deliverables. The most dangerous of these is the second part of point 6:
In this same letter of comfort, we seek a written commitment that whoever forms majority Government will commit to a full three year term, and for an explanation in writing in this same letter as to how this commitment to a full term will be fulfilled, either by enabling legislation or other means.
They’re trying to make themselves sounds so noble here – they’re just interested in stability. It’s pretty clear that the stability they’re after is their own position of power. Windsor did this at a state level as well, so he has form.
The full-term thing wouldn’t be so bad if Greens weren’t set to get balance in senate – there is no way the Coalition can risk agreeing to that. Even if the Coalition wanted a three-year term, that’s not something they can afford to show their hand on. They need to be free to at least give the threat of a double dissolution so that a hostile senate doesn’t lord it over them. This clause will make for a reckless senate.
The clauses for a DD exist in the constitution for a good reason, and the Coalition (and ALP too, for that matter) should tell them where to go. But they have to do it carefully, or they’ll be painted as uncompromising and power-hungry. So the way they need to sell it is to say publicly, “I’m sorry, but we can’t agree with this because [xxx]. We fully realise that this might cost their support, but as much as we’d like to form government, we have to put the country first.”
Then, the Coalition needs to whip up voters in the ex-National electorates to get their act together – and make it clear they want them to support coalition. This worked in toppling ETS, and I suspect it can work in knocking sense into these independents.
Of course, voters in these electorates don’t mind (and probably expect) a good deal of horse trading to get their electorate a “good deal,” but the list of demands don’t seem to help much in that area – and at least two of the three amigos sound partial to a great big new tax.
Meanwhile, Gillard has reportedly indicated her support for all seven demands.
UPDATE: Abbott has given verbal agreement to 3-year term, but nothing in writing yet (hopefully he’ll allow himself some wiggle room if/when he does). He has, however, said no to Treasury doing the costings.
UPDATE 2: Check out this photo – the kingmakers treated like royalty. Is Swan bowing?