Hung parliament “chaos” election warning

Former Independent MPs Rob Oakeshott (left) and Tony Windsor address the media together, during the hung parliament.
Nanjing Night Net

FEARS are escalating during the closing stages of the 2016 federal election about reviving the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd era frustrations, with two independent MPs holding the balance of power in the lower house and Greens running the Senate.

Bookmakers have shortened the betting odds for Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor being elected on July 2 in their respective NSW rural electorates and making an unlikely return to Canberra, on the back of new polling data.

Despite holding the balance of power in the previous parliament, after agreeing to side with Labor following 17 days of negotiations following the 2010 election, both MPs resigned ahead of the 2013 federal poll, with their seats falling to the Nationals in comprehensive results.

Ahead of the last election, Mr Windsor cited health reasons in quitting federal politics after 12 years but has decided to contest New England this year against Nationals’ leader Barnaby Joyce, claiming to have regained his appetite for action.

“I don’t really want to be here in three years’ time – there’s other things that I want to do,” Mr Windsor said in 2013 referring to work in Africa and a return to farming.

Mr Windsor will turn 66 later this year and held New England for 12 years before his resignation.

He was also involved in agri-politics before entering the NSW parliament where he was the State member for Tamworth for a decade, before moving into the federal parliament in 2001.

Mr Oakeshott turns 47 this year and recently made a surprise nomination to run in the seat of Cowper held by senior Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker.

The independent held the NSW coastal seat of Lyne in the hung parliament but is changing electorates this time because boundary redistributions in NSW at this election have pushed his home town of Port Macquarie into Cowper.

Mr Oakeshott entered the NSW parliament in 1996 representing the Nationals for the seat of Port Macquarie but turned independent in 2002 and then won the seat of Lyne in 2008, following former National party leader Mark Vaile’s resignation.

When he resigned ahead of the 2013 election, he said having had five years in the federal parliament, 17 years in public life and after contesting six elections the time was right to move on from politics, given he also had a young family.

In a recent article praising Mr Windsor’s decision to make New England “alive” by contesting the seat this year, Mr Oakeshott said he was a contractor with the United Nations in Myanmar and Fiji and studying to be a medical doctor while “bringing up four awesome kids”.

Today, on the back of new polling data showing an increase in primary vote by the challenger, online bookmaker Sportsbet shortened Mr Windsor’s odds of winning New England from $3.30 into $3.00.

Mr Joyce remains the favourite with his odds going up, from $1.30 out to $1.35, while Mr Oakeshott has firmed in from $5.00 into $4.50 to defeat his Nationals rival who has eased from $1.06 out to $1.17.

The betting agency’s Ben Bulmer said the two former hung parliament independent MPs continued to cause headaches for the Nationals in northern NSW, with Mr Windsor “making up ground on Barnaby Joyce”.

“Rob Oakeshott’s decision to enter the race at the last minute could be a winner with the majority of punters backing him,” he said.

Mr Windsor’s office declined to comment on new polling results released this week by The Australian showing the gap closing between the two candidates, with Mr Joyce marginally ahead.

The polling put Mr Joyce’s primary vote at 48 per cent, with 44pc and anything below that number opening up the danger zone for tipping the result in Mr Windsor’s favour.

National party sources have declined to reveal any internal polling data results for New England but are growing increasingly anxious in the final stages of the election campaign with Mr Windsor gaining ground on his political nemesis, on the critical primary vote.

Mr Joyce has said he remains confident but not cocky about the final election outcome while Mr Windsor has always maintained the seat is winnable, despite an overwhelming win by the Nationals in 2013.

Mr Oakeshott’s former seat of Lyn was won by the Nationals Dr David Gillespie and is now considered a safe conservative electorate with a 13.6pc margin.

Asked about the potential return of Mr Oakeshott to Canberra today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said voters had a clear choice on July 2, and were also voting now, between a stable Coalition government “with a clear national economic plan that will deliver stronger growth and more and better jobs”.

He said on the other hand, “you have an increasingly desperate and ragged Labor Party looking around in the midst of its scare campaigns to do deals with the Greens and with the Independents”.

“We have some of the former members of the Julia Gillard hung Parliament band seeking to get back together,” he said.

“We have Mr Windsor running in New England.

“We have the prospect of the chaos of Labor and the most anti-business Labor leader in generations, the Greens and the Independents.

“It’s a very clear choice – stable Coalition government, a clear national economic plan or the chaos and dysfunction of Labor, Greens and Independents.”

Quizzed on the same issue, Treasurer Scott Morrison said there was a “whole caravan of chaos with Labor, the Greens and the Independents, with Oakeshott and Windsor”.

He said with the polling up for Mr Oakeshott in Cowper, amid potential preference flows, a repeat scenario was “a very real prospect”.

“The choice at this election is fairly clear; the Coalition can form a stable government and govern in its own right – that is one choice,” he said.

“The other choice – and I don’t think there is anyone suggesting any differently – if Labor were to form a government on the other side of July 2 it would be with Independents and the Greens.

“In particular, with where Oakeshott is said to be polling, well, we could have Rob Oakeshott back in the Parliament and Tony Windsor, the whole gang.

“It’s just chaos – that is the alternative.”

Mr Morrison said Mr Hartsuyker was “a really good local member” who deserved support in Cowper to be part of a stable government and “not part of the chaos that Rob Oakeshott would bring”.

“The best way to avoid that is to just vote for Luke,” he said.

“If Luke can get his primary vote to even closer to 50 or over 50 then obviously he will be elected.”

Mr Joyce said he’d always believed the election would be tight and was unsurprised Mr Windsor had chosen to stand against him at the election.

He warned that if anybody thought their vote or preference flow doesn’t count, “it does”.

“Not only could it determine the electorate it could determine…where the nation goes,” he said.

“I believe obviously the best place for the nation and the New England Electorate is with the National/Liberal party Coalition.”

Mr Joyce said at the start of the election campaign people had a form of “sentimentality” about their considerations, based on previous experiences.

But he said as the election continued on, voters were now becoming increasingly focussed on the electorate and nation’s future and potential outcomes.

“Further into the election people are more focussed on the future and making a decision about what is the best long term outcome for the seat of New England and who’s got the best capacity for the long-term, to provide the greatest delivery back to the electorate,” he said.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said the election was “a very tight race”.

“We’ve got to fight for every single vote,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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