The shock of the 2019 election result, when even ABC psephologist Antony Green predicted Labor would win, has pundits nervous and doubting current polls.
Meanwhile, pollsters have changed their methodology and have subsequently underestimated Labor’s vote in three state elections.
So, what’s likely to happen? It could be a Labor landslide, or we may end up with the proverbial ‘hung’ parliament.
We really can’t be sure at this stage, despite the overwhelming swing to Labor and others, away from the Coalition.
We could have the Hilary Clinton effect – a last minute bombshell thrown at Anthony Albanese.
If Labor wins more seats than the Coalition, but not enough to form government without crossbench support, the Governor General will invite Anthony Albanese to form government.
This is where the argy bargy really begins.
To be safe, the new prime minister would need several crossbench members to guarantee supply, not just the Greens.
They protest they won’t do deals, but they will. They would have no choice.
I very much doubt if the new PM and his negotiating team will take on the entire agenda of any of those with whom they are negotiating, but just enough to ensure their own agenda is not hijacked and nothing that is electorally unpalatable. They will have their eye on staying in government for at least two terms.
There’s no possibility Labor would agree to immediate closure of Australia’s coal mines, needless to say.
There’s a strong possibility they’d agree to a thermal coal phase out, guaranteeing existing coal workers retraining or significant compensation, with major investments in renewables such as green hydrogen.
When I was in the NSW Legislative Council in the Bob Carr years, holding the balance of power, (Greens MP) Ian Cohen and I, and other crossbench members, wanted the government to conserve substantial areas of the South East old growth forests.
There was an impasse.
Penny Wong, then advisor to Kim Yeadon, Minister for Forests, buttonholed me in the Fountain Court of Parliament House and asked whether I’d be amenable to raiding the environmental trust fund to compensate loggers.
I said I didn’t mind if every logger became a millionaire, all we wanted was to save those ancient forests. So legislation was introduced to strip the fund of hundreds of millions of dollars to look after those affected by declaring large areas as national parks. It was a very worthwhile investment.
The new government absolutely won’t be ‘held to ransom’, as Scott Morrison and his at-risk MPs constantly bleat.
It’s an absurd allegation anyway – coming from Coalition members – when the Liberal Party has been held to ransom for its entire nine years in office by the bunch of troglodytes now infesting the Nationals Party.
It used to be a real country party, looking after rural people.
I dealt with some excellent Nationals Party ministers and members when I was in Parliament.
Nationals Party Minister, George Souris, did some great things. Nationals MP, Jenny Gardiner, was on the Parliamentary Committee I chaired. We got on well, and our reports were usually unanimous.
Sadly, the National Party has lost its way, and represents mining interests more than country people. Just imagine the seat of Richmond going back to today’s Nationals! It was a safe Nationals seat for decades held by Doug, and then Larry Anthony. They are still fondly remembered by many.
Tell me, off the top of your head, can you name the Nationals Party candidate for Richmond?
It would have been easy once. It was either Larry or Doug.
To save you racking your brain, it’s Kimberly Hone. She’s a Pentecostal Christian who doesn’t believe in climate change.
Ms Hone made the following comments during a speech to a church meeting, which was subsequently posted on YouTube: ‘The ultimate goal for me is … I want to bring God’s kingdom to the political arena. And I want God’s kingdom to penetrate the political mountain.’
She’s a most unusual choice of candidate, and has little chance of achieving her ambition, barring a genuine miracle.
It’s possible no one else wanted to be a candidate for such a Sisyphean task.
Who will win the seat of Richmond?
It will be between incumbent Labor’s Justine Elliot and Greens’ Mandy Nolan.
Personally, while I would be happy to see Justine as part of a winning team, I would absolutely love to see Mandy in the House.
She’d garner as much attention as Jacqui Lambie and fight like hell to get a better deal for the homeless, particularly getting help for those stricken by the floods.
Looking at the numbers, it’s really unlikely Mandy’s election would harm Labor’s chances of forming government.
Voters will decide.
Richard Jones is a former member of the NSW Legislative Council and is now a ceramicist.