Let us, for a moment engage in a thought exercise as to what it would mean for Canberra if the Liberals were to form Government after the October election?
Firstly how would this come about? Labor is short of high profile candidates in both Ginninderra and Brindabella with the retirement of the very popular Jon Stanhope and John Hargreaves.
To attack this weakness the Liberals are running a full court press down south (Brindabella) with Brendan Smyth and Zed Seselja both running and the highly respected Val Jeffery a chance to hoover up the wrinkly votes (get a better wooly jumper this time around Val).
Out Belco way (Ginninderra) the Liberals are hoping Coe and Dunne can hold their own (we’re unconvinced the plummy painfully young Coe is connecting with West Belconnen working families as he’d hope, but let’s play it out for the hypothetical OK?).
From there they’re hoping the iconic Chic Henry can hive off the unthinking Labor base with a Summernats vote. It could happen.
Suddenly the Liberals are effectively in six seats before Molonglo’s bevy of seven seats is considered.
Losing Zed to Brindabella won’t help them, but it’s hard to see the Green vote doing anything but going down to single seat representation.
Three seats to the Liberals in Molonglo (up one from the historic lows of 2008) is nine Liberal seats. In a 17 seat Assembly.
Majority Government Liberal?
It’s a possibility.
Faced with a 9 seat voting block including the Motorists Party you might even see the Greens cutting a deal to get a seat at the big table (and hang onto the speakership).
And then what?
One could imagine they will try and be more developer friendly than their predecessors, but Labor in the ACT have been far from unfriendly to developers. With Canberra real estate coming off the boil in the forseeable future that’s likely to be moot.
There seem to be a disproportionate of Catholics in Liberal ranks, so expect social policy to lean that way.
But before there is wailing and gnashing of teeth I would suggest we think a bit more about this.
The ACT’s public service and institutions are pretty well stacked with at best fellow travellers and in a lot of cases movers and shakers within Labor politics.
The Liberals don’t have anything like the cadre to purge those institutions and make more friendly replacements. They don’t have that many mates here in Canberra, and with State Governments Liberal across the nation (and anticipated federally) there’s no talent to bus in from interstate.
So we’d have an incoming government after 12 years in the wilderness asking a lot of pointed questions of institutions it’s not in a position to fully takeover.
We’d also have a public service not particularly minded to help out the Government in the event of any dodginess on their part.
Include a reliance on Chic Henry who doesn’t appear likely to want to be a tory stooge and we could get a pretty functional government willing to turn over rocks and shine lights into dark corners of the ACT if only to embarrass their enemies, and unable to create too many dark corners of their own.
It’s worth thinking about.