In defence of the major parties


The most apt statement regarding the entire Federal election aftermath came on Twitter. 

User @MiltonFriedmans wrote to journalist Miranda Devine: “I think the Greens have forgotten they lost in 149 seats.”


That perfectly sums up the situation Australia currently finds itself in.  Journalists, tweeters, commentators and politicians have been crying ad nauseam about how the Australian public so comprehensively rebelled against the major parties.

My intellectual crush, Annabel Crabb, even said on ABC’s Insiders program that the public had been so underwhelmed by the major parties that a tie was a fitting result.  The rest of the panel agreed with her.  Their logic was therefore: if it’s a tie then people were clearly not convinced by either.

Leaping on this bandwagon, the new Greens MP, Adam Bandt, said “When the only party that goes to the election asking for an immediate price on carbon is the party that has the largest swing to it that is a message that can't be ignored.”

Well, excuse me but I must disagree.

The point that has been lost in this entire fallout is that the major parties were, in fact, not comprehensively dumped by the electorate.  Rather, the major parties still won 145 of the 150 seats. 

Furthermore, two of those five seats not won by the major parties went down to the wire.  This means that there was a real possibility that both major parties were close to winning the same number of seats as the last election.

At the last election, there wasn’t even a hint of a whisper that the public were so disillusioned with the major parties.  I may also be so bold to say that, if Julia Gillard had won the election, then no one would be talking about a rejection of the major parties.

Rather, they would be hailing the fact that Australia had just elected its first female Prime Minister.  Sure there would be a little pandering to the Greens that they hold the balance of power in the Senate and increased their primary vote by 3.5%, but overall there would be talk about how Australia had responded positively to a female Leader.

However, the claim is that, if there isn’t a majority, apparently this means the public are sick of the major parties.

Again, let me disagree.

According to the ABC’s election website, 44% of Australians voted for the Coalition and 38% voted for Labor.  Added up this means that 82% of Australians voted for one of the major parties.


Let’s put this in perspective.  That’s a greater percentage than any teams winning percentage in the history of the NBA.  It’s a greater percentage than Rocky Balboa’s fight record.  And, it’s a higher percentage than the number of days per year Lindsay Lohan takes a hit of crack.

Let’s use another example.  If one candidate (let’s call them the Major Party candidate) attracted 82% of the vote, you would be laughed out of the room if you suggested that people were ‘over’ that candidate and people were ‘fed up’ with that candidate.

So why is it that if 82% of the population votes for a major party that it means Australians are fed up with them?  Also, just because the result is a tie, it by no means suggests that people didn’t want either party to win.

Did it ever occur to people that perhaps people were simply just undecided over which party they wanted to vote for?  Why is this a bad thing??

Something else that doesn’t make sense is the overwhelming media coverage devoted to claiming that the Greens are the big winners of this election.

Yes, they increased their vote (partly due to a Labor protest vote and partly due to an increasingly left wing student base), but the big winners?  Hardly.

They only managed to win one House of Representatives seat, and they have nine Senate seats.  Statistically this means that the Greens won 0.67% of the seats in the House of Representatives, and 11.8% of the Senate. 

To put these statistics into another context, let’s say you took two maths exams and you got 0.67% in the first test and 11.8% in the second test.  Would you be happy with that result?

Expanding the example, let’s say you took the same tests three years ago and in those exams you got 0% and 7.8%.  Given those numbers, would you be thrilled with the increase in your results three years later?

I’m going to guess that you’d be more disappointed than when Marty McFly discovered his mother had married Biff Tannen in the alternate 1985.

Yes I know, it’s hardly an apples with apples example so let’s put it another way.

The Greens, according to the ABC news website, won 11.5% of the popular vote.  In other words, 88.5% of Australians did not vote for the Greens.

So please, let’s stop celebrating mediocrity but rather see the Greens for what they really are: a minor party.

This is why Bob Brown had no place in the Leaders’ Debates – he had zero chance of becoming Prime Minister.  And this is why the media should not be getting carried away like they are. 

An overwhelming majority of Australians still voted for one of the major parties.  The Australian electorate is not ‘sick’ of the major parties.  Rather, many Australians still align themselves into a blue or red camp.

Unfortunately the media will keep reporting that the mood of Australia has shifted to the Greens and the Independents when in reality, this is clearly not the case.

Some might argue that I’m ignoring the fact that 18% of Australian voters voted against the major parties and that there was a high number of informal votes.

Well, I don’t think that holds much weight.  As I said before, 82% is a strong number, and informal votes go up and down like a yoyo every election.  Australians are, by their very nature, apathetic when it comes to politics.

So where do we go from here?  An insider tells me that his money is on the Coalition, but really it’s anybody guess.

The only thing certain is this: for a while at least, the Greens will still have an overinflated sense of their own self importance.

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Sarah Hanson-Young has been outspoken
regarding the Greens' "success".

Lindsay Lohan is never far away
from a drug scandal.
Despite an increased vote
the Greens are still a minor party.