UPDATE: (Tues 10 Sept 6:14 pm AEST)
Not looking so good for Cathy McGowan now. She is less than 300 votes ahead Correction - the website is changed again. Now Cathy McGowan seems to be 700 or so ahead of Sophie Mirabella and there are still around 7,000 postal votes to count. Antony Green has called it for Sophie and he's rarely wrong - but fingers crossed for Cathy.
UPDATE: (Mon 9 Sept 13 5:10 pm AEST) Cathy McGowan is now ahead of Sophie Mirabella by nearly 1800 votes. This will go down to the wire but IMO most preferences and much pre-polling will favour Cathy.
The Australian federal elections were well and truly won by the Liberal National coalition today. The coalition is between the Liberal Party, a generally moderate conservative party and the National Party - another conservative party, which is associated with rural Australians. The National Party operates more as a grassroots democracy than the Liberal Party, which means that on some issues it is more conservative but on other issues it is less conservative than the Liberal Party. (Neither are as right wing as the current Republican Party in the USA although the coalition has arguably shifted more to the right under the Abbott leadership.) The Liberal National coalition has been operating for a long time at the federal level, but it can't be taken for granted. In some states the parties are separate and have not formed a coalition. Neither party could ever hope to win a federal election in their own right in Australia today.
Anthony Watts is crowing as if he had anything to do with Australia or its elections (archived here). Why he would care is anyone's guess. (I notice that I'm moving up in the denier world, rating a mention in Anthony's article - and in the same sentence as John Cook and Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg no less. I'm humbled to be in such company but recognise that it's just another example of Anthony Watts' dumb ignorance.)
For the benefit of HotWhopper readers from elsewhere, the election results are not a surprise and could have been a lot worse for climate politics. Our new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott is a lowest common denominator style of politician, taking his lead from the tea party in the USA, with three word slogans being the extent of his policies for the past three years or so. ("Stop the Boats"; "Great Big Tax"; "No Carbon Tax")
Once the election campaign got underway in earnest he shifted to a slightly more sophisticated approach. He has sworn to get rid of the carbon "tax" (which isn't really a tax - it's a price on carbon). To do that he will either have to wait till after the Senate
To explain - the Senate is the upper house of Parliament. Half the Senate is elected every three years and senators have a six year term. Today we voted for half the Senate and all of the lower house - the House of Representatives.
After today's election, the Liberal National coalition has the majority in the House of Representatives but it does not have a majority in the Senate. That means that it will not be able to undo the carbon pricing legislation for at least 12 months. It is arguable that business will not look kindly on them if they mess about too much with it. Business has accepted it and, as always, prefers certainty to uncertainty.
A couple of other points that will give some (small) consolation to climate hawks. The first is that Adam Bandt, the Greens member for Melbourne retained his seat with an increase in his primary vote and with the help of preferences from the Liberals.
The second is that in my electorate, Indi, the positively dreadful Sophie Mirabella, who in opposition was ironically the Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science, is under threat from independent Cathy McGowan. Sophie is the least innovative person one could imagine. She is also the most anti-science person one could imagine. She was in a very safe rural seat until people power got behind Cathy McGowan. Sophie has lost 8.3% of her 9% margin so far and as each count comes in Cathy sneaks a bigger proportion of the vote. At the moment Cathy McGowan is around 700 votes short of winning the seat. It will be a close one. Sophie Mirabella would be to the right of Genghis Kahn politically and is one of the uglies on our political landscape. If Cathy wins, she'll be the first independent woman in Federal Parliament. Even if Sophie gets back, our conservative electorate has sent a very strong message to her and to Tony Abbott.
All up the results are pretty much as expected and could have been worse.
I won't go into all the boring details of Australian political silliness but one thing stands out as being excruciatingly silly. The new PM Tony Abbott has promised to buy boats from people smugglers. There are a few million dodgy boats in the world that will be heading for Australia tomorrow! And a few million more waiting to take their place.
The next few months will be a challenge for Tony Abbott. He won leadership within his own party from the more moderate Malcolm Turnbull by only one vote. If Turnbull were to regain leadership (and hence become Prime Minister) in this term of Parliament the carbon price would no longer be under threat. Turnbull is very aware of the dangers of global warming, as are some others in the Liberal National Party.
I don't know where the balance of power will lie now that there are more Liberal National members elected to the House of Representatives. It could have shifted to the more conservative but with luck it will have shifted to the more moderate. Perhaps someone who keeps a closer watch on our political scene than I can comment.