Currently the Australian government has 74 Coalition members in the House of Representatives, 58 of whom are members of the Liberal Party of Australia, and 16 are members of the Nationals.
The Opposition is formed by the Australian Labor Party with 69 members.
The 7 remaining members, often referred to as the Crossbench, are formed of 4 Independents, and single members of 3 minor parties, Australian Greens, Centre Alliance, and Katter’s Australian Party.
The Crossbench Political Option
The Crossbench should not be written off as far as political power is concerned, since they have frequently held the “balance of power” if not in the House of Representatives, at least in the Senate.
One need only recall the “hung parliament” from the 2010 federal election in which the ALP was able to provide stable government with the support of 3 Independents and one Australian Green under the Prime Ministership of Julia Gillard.
The power of the Crossbench could well be greater after the 2019 election if small-l Liberal voters who feel disenfranchised by the shift of the Liberal Party to the Right and are wary of Labor’s economic credentials, look for candidates who best represent their policy preferences.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has held the safe Liberal seat of Warringah for the past 24 years, now has a formidable high-profile Independent Candidate in Zali Steggall. The veteran of many a political battle has betrayed his feeling of vulnerability by urging voters to vote for the ALP candidate rather than the Independent, Zali Steggall.
Even the very elite of the Liberal Party face the possibility of defeat at the next election by well credentialed Independent candidates if the present trend continues. You might imagine that rebellious Conservatives would refrain in an election campaign from continuing to provoke Moderate Liberal voters, but not so.
For me the most egregious media stirrer of unrest is the smirking indefatigable Andrew Bolt who is completely undeterred from promoting fanciful conspiracy theories, this time that it is Malcolm Turnbull who is orchestrating an Independent campaign against those responsible for his overthrow. Where is the evidence Andrew?
House of Representatives Crossbench on display in First Q and A for 2019
The Panelists for the ABC’s first Q and A program for 2019 on 04/02/2019 were five members of the House of Representatives Crossbench:
- Adam Bandt, Greens Party, for the seat of Melbourne
- Julia Banks, currently an Independent for the seat of Chisholm
- Kerryn Phelps, Independent Member for the seat of Wentworth
- Rebekha Sharkie, Centre Alliance Member for Mayo
- Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for the seat of Denison.
I understand that it was Adam Brandt who first mooted a Banking Royal Commission, not Labor. Each of the above five members have made valuable parliamentary contributions, including Dr Kerryn Phelps who has already come up with a well thought-out Urgent Medical Treatment Bill that will provide prompt expert compassionate healthcare for asylum seekers without undermining the integrity of Australia’s refugee policy.
Thank God we all have a democratic vote!
Despite the limitations of our political system, individual parliamentarians and political parties are eventually accountable at the ballot-box.
Let us vote for those we think have Australia’s best interests at heart, rather than their own!