EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 25.08.10.
While the guessing game continues as to just who will hold how many seats in the final make up of the new parliament, and the manoeuvring for the favour of the independents unfolds, it is probably a good idea to take a breath, calm down and be a little bit patient. The final count from the Australian Electoral Commission won’t be known for days yet, and possibly not until the end of next week. After all, there is a thirteen day period allowed for postal votes to arrive, so if the seats hanging in the balance come down to a handful of votes that’s how long we will have to wait. But this is a period of uncertainty, that’s not the same thing as a period of instability. While the final votes are counted, and the negotiations take place, the normal business of government goes on.
Pensions are still paid, taxes are still collected, and while the outcome is determined the old government continues on in a caretaker capacity. There is no disruption to normal process, there is no interruption to the chain of command, and there is minimum inconvenience to anyone other than the politicians themselves. Of course, some things are on hold such as future funding decisions, new policy implementation, and business investment decisions which might be influenced by the shape of future government policy. But even those decisions would have already been shaped by the election timetable, and so long as a resolution is reached in a week or two there should be no significant fall out. Anyone basing billion dollar decisions solely around the election outcome probably isn’t very good at long term planning anyway.
Rather than being anxious about the outcome, we should all relax and allow the process to unfold. The vast majority of Australians will feel no immediate impact on their lives one way or the other. Ultimately however, there is in fact a great opportunity for the political process to be reformed and improved as a result of the negotiations presently underway. It would be a pity if that opportunity was not fully explored to deliver a greater voice in public affairs for ordinary everyday Australians who might feel that in recent years they have been ignored more and more by the big parties. Of course it is always possible that after this period has passed and at some future time when one of the big parties once again has a clear majority any such reforms might be cast aside and forgotten. It is always possible that even after all that has happened this week that the big parties have not heard the message which I believe the Australian people have been sending to them. It is always possible, that the parties fail to learn the lesson that they cannot the voters for granted.
I hope that’s not the case, because if the current situation does not teach them that lesson then I suspect that nothing will.