The Super Saturday by-elections have come and gone and it has proven to be a positive result for Bill Shorten. Labor were successful in retaining all four seats they held going into the July 28 polls (including the marginal seats of Braddon and Longman), while the Coalition failed in its bid to wrestle back Mayo from Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie.
While the implications of the outcomes of the Super-Saturday by-elections will continue to be debated for some considerable time yet, we believe it is important to concentrate on what can now be reasonably concluded:
1. The Prime Minister will call the next General Election for the latest possible date – with the next election likely to be held in May 2019.
2. The next Government will not win control of the Senate – again highlighting the critical position of the crossbench Senators to passing or blocking – legislation from the next Government.
Implications of a May 2019 election
A May 2019 General Election will:
1. Mean that the 2019 Budget will not be delivered on the traditional date of the second Tuesday of May. There would be a high probability of a mini-Budget in February to “re-set” the Budget ahead of calling the election in April.
2. The Government would have sufficient time to respond to the Hayne Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry, including introduction and passage of consequential legislation. The Commission is required to deliver its final report to the Government by 1 February, 2019.
Composition of next senate
The tables below set out the composition of the current Senate and the expected Senate outcome under either a coalition or ALP victory. Under both scenarios, the incoming Government would fall well short of an absolute majority in the 76 member Senate. Under the Constitution, a tied vote is found in the negative – so 39 votes are required by the Government to see its legislation passed.
In the next Senate we expect to see 7-8 Cross Bench Senators whose votes will be critical – for both the Government in terms of pushing its legislation through the Senate and, equally for an Opposition wanting to block Government legislation. If Labor wins the next election, winning the support of The Greens would make its job of marshalling a total of 39 Senate votes that much easier. But the key issue then would be: what would the Greens demand in return for their Senate votes.
Table 1: Composition of Current Senate
Table 2: Composition of Next Senate
a. The higher Coalition outcome is based on a Coalition victory, with a consequential lower Senate outcome for PHON and a higher outcome for the Greens (at the expense of the ALP).
b. The higher ALP outcome is based on an ALP victory, with a consequential lower Senate outcome for the Greens and a higher outcome for PHON (at the expense of the Coalition).
c. The ranges for The Greens (versus the ALP) and PHON (versus the Coalition) reflect uncertainties is Western Australia and Queensland.