So the outcome is a 12/11/2 split. This is a bad result for the Liberals, but note it is only bad, not a disaster. It shows yet again that locally, this is essentially a two horse town with a left bias.
In 2012, the Libs and Labor got 50% of the seats with the balance going to the left leaning Greens Party, delivering government to Labor.
Yet again, in 2016, Hare-Clark has delivered a minority government. D’Hondt did it before Hare-Clark and only in 2004/2008 was there a majority government here.
It quite clearly shows that the normal situation on governance is that the governing party will do so with one seat less than a majority, but one seat more than the other major party and will need the support of the crossbench to assure passage of the Budget and to support the government in the case of a lack of confidence motion in the Chief Minister.
The invoice for this support in 2012/2016 was a ministry for the sole Green. Why the Greens were only entitled to a Speaker’s position in 2008/2012 remains a mystery to me. In a coalition, and it went by another name then, the junior party with 4 seats measured against the senior party with 7 out of a total of 17 seats, would normally be entitled to 2 ministries out of 5. But that was not to be.
Back to this one, and I predicted this ratio back in June 2002 when on a Standing Committee looking into the appropriate size of the Assembly. I refer readers to my dissenting report at page 63 of that report. It can be found at http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/375776/la04sizeoflegass.pdf.
At that time, I worried about the exercise of Executive authority where a ministry had more members than the backbench and thus rendered the backbench irrelevant to the process. Having a non-governing party member of a Cabinet meant that the power wielded by the majority in Cabinet, in those days 3 out of 5, rendered the lesser 2 members of the Cabinet irrelevant also, and thus the town was ruled by a group of three and if the non-governing party member of Cabinet was part of that three, then disproportionate power was wielded by someone with a very small part of the overall ACT vote.
I don’t see any change to this in the coming four years with the exception that the Cabinet will ultimately be 7 out of Labor’s 12 but in reality, I predict that Mr Rattenbury will be a minister again. This raises an interesting position.
Labor will have up to 6 members of its 12 in the ministry. This means that in the Caucus, any proposal has to be won on its merits, because any vote for passage could go down because the vote could possibly be tied at 6 each.
The same in the Greens Party Room with 1 vote each.
But … overall, if there were to be a joint party room vote and I can’t see this happening, the Cabinet would be 7 votes out of 14 and thus an equal vote for the Cabinet and the backbench. But, if the Greens voted as a block, the votes would be 8 votes to a Labor backbench of 6 and thus Labor’s backbench would be irrelevant.
It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall during the discussions on the nature of the relationship between the Labor Party and the Greens on power sharing.
If it were me, I would claim a mandate to govern as the majority party on the floor of the Chamber, give the Greens nothing and see if they would go to the Liberals. If they did, there would be a huge rank and file uprising in the Greens membership.