July 28, 2018

Horse 2449 - Super Sleepy Saturday

In what's being labeled by the media as "Super Saturday" because media outlets are not really all that imaginative, and what I'm describing as "definitely being a thing that is happening today", five by-elections are being held across the country in the 2018 Festival Of Democracy Sausage. The Daily Telegraph, the ABC, the Sydney Morning Herald, SBS, The Australian, and The Guardian, have all run pieces that make these elections to be so important that they will decide the fate of the government. They will not.

Currently the makeup of the House Of Representatives is thus:
76 - Coalition
65 - Labor
4 - Crossbench

The five seats that are holding by-elections are all either previously held by Labor or by the Independent Rebecca Sharkey. If we assume that all five seats fall to Labor then the new makeup of the House Of Representatives will be thus:
76 - Coalition
70 - Labor
4 - Crossbench

if you were to them assume that the entire of the crossbench  was to support Labor, which is a silly assumption because one of those members happens to be Bob Katter  who is an ex-member of the National Party and would never side with Labor (as proven by the 2010 hung parliament), then the absolute best case scenario that Labor could possibly hope for are a rag tag coalition of their own with only 74 seats. This is not enough to dethrone the government.

Politics and particularly the mechanics of who forms government is a numbers game and in this case the numbers simply just don't work for a change of government until either more by-elections as the citizenship saga continues to unseat MPs because of their failure to fulfill their Section 44 obligations under the constitution, or via the most likely method of changing government which is a general election.

What these by-elections are going to determine if anything, is a better idea of what a likely swing is going to be in that general election when it is eventually called. If the government finds this favourable, which isn't terribly likely since no government has managed to snatch a seat away from the opposition in a by-election¹ since 1920, then the general election is more likely to be called closer to today than being kicked down the road further. This set of by-elections is better than most because you have both rural and urban seats up for grabs and across multiple states.

Given that the swing required for Labor to win the Next Federal Election is only 0.75%, then anything towards the coalition might be enough to pull it forward. If they get anything more than about a 3% towards the coalition in practice, then I would expect more of a November 2018 election rather than an April 2019 election.

I suspect though that what will happen is exactly nothing and that all of the MPs who were forced to resign in the wake of Section 44, will all retain their seats and everything will be exactly as it was before.
76 - Coalition
69 - Labor
5 - Crossbench

That would make this "Super Saturday" kind of a fizzer and not even as super a Saturday as the Super Saturday Show with Agro².

¹The Kalgoorlie by-election of 1920, is the only by-election in Australian history where the Government won a seat from the Opposition - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalgoorlie_by-election,_1920
²which was a thing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybhSDcwIgt8

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