This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning till the end of the election. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
So you've had enough of the egotistical behaviour and childish name-calling. You're quite rightly horrified by the allegations of repeated sexual misconduct and abuse. And you're absolutely exhausted with tales about extremely prominent and overpaid people squandering money and constantly blaming each other.
We get it. But let's talk about the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial some other time.
With just two weeks left in the most uninspiring election campaign anyone can recall, a hung parliament looms as a strong possibility after the May 21 election. The major parties, particularly the Coalition, are warning us that such an outcome will unleash chaos on our democracy at a time of global and financial uncertainty. Really?
"I think having a hung parliament is probably better for democracy when you've got to try and push things through, especially bills and legislation," said Senator Jacquie Lambie yesterday. "[When] you've got that balance of power, you try and you try to make it better. That's what you do. You don't worry about ... doing deals. What you do is make those bills and legislation better that doesn't just suit your own state, but suits the whole nation without any conflicts of interest."
Lambie's view is backed by history. The Gillard minority government secured power in 2010 after forming an alliance with the Greens' Adam Bandt and three regional independents. It went on to become the second most successful government in history in terms of passing legislation, according to a recent analysis by The Guardian, only a whisker behind John Howard's tenure during the 41st parliament when he had control of both houses - a rare phenomenon in modern politics.
The spanner in the works this time around are the "teal independents", many financially backed with millions of dollars by the climate activist group Climate 200 (they're dubbed "teal" because the majority of them use that colour on their marketing material - a hue that sits, some say significantly, between blue and green). Targeting mainly Liberal-held seats on a platform of greater climate change action and the need for a federal integrity body, the teals have emerged as the scariest thing the major parties have confronted since the shock victory of Pauline Hanson in 1996.
But if several of these teals are successful in traditional Liberal seats - neurologist Monique Ryan is threatening Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Kooyong (the pair publicly debated one another during an often fiery encounter yesterday) while businesswoman Allegra Spender is challenging Dave Sharma in Wentworth - they face an equally momentous task if they end up with seats on the cross bench.
Who will they choose? Achieving greater emissions targets and an anti-corruption body will be joined by an equally pressing issue - guaranteeing the passing of bills to keep the country running. Given the traditionally conservative electorates that might elect them, several teals have indicated discomfort at the thought of booting out an incumbent Coalition government.
They might push for Scott Morrison to be dumped as PM because he's on the nose with their voters already.
But favouring Labor's red is a blue many of the teals will be more than keen to avoid.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Will May 21 be known as Australia's Independents Day? Have you decided to switch from one of the major parties to an independent? Are you concerned about a hung parliament? Or are you more concerned with the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard Hollywood trial? Send us your views: firstname.lastname@example.org
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- The Australian Electoral Commission announced yesterday that more than 500 early voting centres will open across Australia on Monday with several anti-coronavirus measures in place, including social distancing and sanitised surfaces and pencils.
- Anthony Albanese confronted another "gotcha" moment on the campaign trail when he was unable to recite Labor's six-point plan on improving the Gillard government's National Disability Insurance Scheme. Pressed on why he often defers to colleagues for detailed answers, Albanese said: "I am the captain. I'm proud of my team. None of mine are in witness protection - this Prime Minister can't even say who the education minister is."
- Defence minister Peter Dutton defended the government's handling of the Solomon Islands imbroglio during a debate with the shadow defence spokesman Brendan O'Connor. It came after Solomons' Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told his parliament there was "glaring hypocrisy" in the way some of his nation's "partners" had treated his nation.
THEY SAID IT: "A fool and his money are soon elected." - Will Rogers, American actor and humorist.
YOU SAID IT: "Mr Morrison's comments on an integrity commission that 'we just can't hand government over to faceless officials to make decisions that impact the lives of Australians' sounds very much like our recent years of government." - Richard.
"If an autocracy is 'a system of government by one person with absolute power', a public autocracy would be a system of government by the public with absolute power, which sounds a bit like democracy. I'd vote for that." - Ian.
"If Scott Morrison wants evidence of why we need a federal integrity commission, he need only look around him. His government stinks of corruption and misuse of public funds." - David.
"We do need an ICAC and the PM is very wrong in his analysis of what is OK with public dollars. But the NSW model lacks an 'innocent until proven guilty' aspect." - Paul.
"Fred Chaney was a Liberal senator who refused to pass Whitlam's budget in 1975, thus leading to the dismissal of the government of the day by the Governor General. Does Chaney view his actions 'in the national interest' or 'The political answer we can get away with'? No, Chaney was never a statesman. Self-interest continues to rule the liberals." - Ian.
"Bring on a federal ICAC with teeth. I don't believe Morrison's claims that it will be a kangaroo court. The NSW ICAC has worked well. It's time corrupt federal politicians were held to account for their actions." - Michelle.
"I live in the safe seat of Franklin in southern Tasmania where the sitting ALP member has a 12 per cent margin. Politicians and pork barrels are rarely seen within cooee of this electorate. The lack of interest by politicians is long-standing and is reflected in the notable lack of infrastructure projects or new community facilities compared to the marginal seats of Bass and Braddon, which are regularly showered with attention and money." - Peter.
"I would definitely support a switch to optional preferential voting. Forcing voters to number every square is not working and many people have told me they just get their name marked off and put the blank sheets in the box. Most people don't have the time or inclination to look up the policies of every party on the ballot sheet before working out the preference order." - Virginia.
"Politicians are just people in power. Power goes to their head and what they may have stood for is forgotten or lost in its interpretation. We all need checks and balances and that includes having one for governments in power." - Michele.
"Re: political jokes. Robert Menzies was about to address a gathering of militant unionists at Williamstown shipyard when one of them shouted: 'Tell us all you know Bob. It won't take long.' When the laughter subsided Menzies replied: 'I'll tell them all we both know and it won't take any longer.' - Ross.
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