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Campaigning for stability fails to enthuse voters in Australia

Opinion Piece

As the National Party held its 80th conference at the weekend, they would have been keeping a watchful eye on what was happening to their fellow centre-right party across the Tasman.

The Australian election has ended in a virtual stalemate. The two parties are tied at 67 seats each with 11 still undecided. The results of these will not be known until tomorrow at the earliest.

The best the Coalition could hope for is 74, two short of an absolute majority — which means it will have to seek the support of about half the independents. In this sense, independent Senator Nick Xenophon and his group could well be the kingmakers for the next Australian government.

If Labor squeaks through, Australia would have its sixth prime minister in five years which would be remarkable in itself.

Turnbull lost one major gamble with his decision to hold a combined Senate and House of Representatives election. Instead of there being seven senators who were not aligned with either party, there could be as many as 12 this time including One Nation’s fish and chips queen Pauline Hanson. And this was the problem that prompted the joint dissolution.

It is interesting to see that it has taken until 2016 for the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, Labor’s Linda Burney.

In Christchurch, John Key would probably have learned little from the Australian election.

He laid down his marker for next year’s election with a speech in which he said the Government will focus on the things that matter — the economy, law and order and health and education.

National had delivered a stable, predictable government and must remain committed to the task —with no room for complacency, arrogance or mediocrity, said Key.

National has moved on the housing issue with its $1 billion interest-free loan package for some councils and the possibility of new urban development authorities.

Malcolm Turnbull campaigned on stability and could well have come undone. John Key will be hoping that is not the message to take from Australia.