You can treat this as an opportunity to post your last-minute election predictions.
There’s a growing consensus that the most likely outcome in tomorrow’s election is a hung parliament. That’s certainly the opinion of the bookmakers.
But what would that hung parliament look like? The hung parliament’s results could vary wildly depending on tomorrow’s results.
First we need to consider the relative strength of the major parties. If the Coalition was to lose the six seats held on margins of 3.2% or less, then they would fall one seat short of a majority. In this scenario it’s pretty much impossible to see Labor forming government. The Coalition would have multiple options about who they would be able to work with, even if those relationships wouldn’t be easy. In contrast Labor would need to stitch together the support of the entire crossbench, including Greens and much more conservative members, including possibly Shooters.
On the other hand, let’s imagine Labor picks up East Hills, Upper Hunter, Monaro, Lismore, Coogee, Tweed, Penrith, Oatley, Goulburn, Holsworthy and Heathcote. That would give them 46 seats in the Parliament. In that scenario you would expect Labor to cooperate with 2-3 Greens to form a relatively stable centre-left minority government, even if Labor and the Greens wouldn’t always get along.
Something in the middle may create the possibility for either side to govern, or just produce chaos.
The other element to consider is the shape of that crossbench.
There are three different groupings who could occupy the crossbench. The Greens hold three seats. They have a chance of winning a fourth, but are in real danger of losing Ballina and there is some chance of losing Balmain. So they could hold 1-4 seats.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers appear to have a shot in four western NSW electorates, one of which they currently hold. None of these seats are safe, and it’s entirely plausible they could lose Orange and win none of these seats. But four seats could also happen.
Then we have the independents. Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper will probably be fine, while Joe McGirr in Wagga Wagga could have more of a fight on his hands. There have also been reports of viable independent challenges in Dubbo, Wollondilly and Cabramatta. The latter may be boosted by Michael Daley’s comments about Asian immigration.
The relative balance of these groups makes a big difference.
Labor has a relative advantage in working with all three of these groups. The Greens are obvious. While the Shooters are relatively conservative they have developed a stronger relationship with Labor, although they would want to avoid alienating their base who have traditionally supported the Nationals.
The independents will have a variety of political stances, but Greenwich and Piper are centre-left.
Labor has also demonstrated a greater capacity to work with crossbenchers to form stable governments than the Coalition in recent years. It’s worth noting that Jo Haylen was a key staff member working on parliamentary business in Julia Gillard’s office during the federal hung parliament where Labor was very effective at keeping a working majority.
But while Labor has an advantage, these groups may not be able to play nice. The Shooters and Greens in particular are diametrically opposed. This likely means that Labor may not be able to form government if it requires both of these parties.
We probably won’t be able to know exactly what shape the potential hung parliament will look like on Saturday night, as some close races could make a difference between a parliament where it is viable for one side or the other to form government.
Or we could all be wrong and one side could win comfortably. We’ll wait and see.