Prime Minister John Key said he wanted a Liberal Party victory because being their ideological mates, Mr Key thought it would be good for New Zealand. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wanted a Liberal Party victory so he could – among other things – have an electoral plebiscite about gay marriage, get on with work place reforms whose failure to pass had led to a double dissolution election. But when the polls closed at the end of voting on Saturday night Australian time, it was the Labor Party opposition who were smiling.
Watching from across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the proliferation of independents and fringe politicians was what stood out the most. The re-return of far right nationalist Pauline Hanson with her anti-Islam, climate change denial platform will have shocked many Australians. The firebrand from Queensland, whose One Nation refuses to recognize Aboriginal people as the first people of Australia.
But it was not just Ms Hanson who appears to have done well amongst the fringe and independent politicians. Nick Xenophon with his NXT Party is a centrist who has been vocal in a range of issues, and whose party is focussing on the renewal of Australia’s manufacturing base, farming and the dangers of predatory gambling. Not being allied with Labor or the Liberal Party means Mr Xenophon may have influence over who forms the next Government by being one of the independents that Labor and the Liberals will have to talk to.
Not so well off after this election are the Australian Greens who only appear to have held one seat at this stage. Just as the New Zealand Labour and Green parties do not always get on, despite being ideologically friendly to each other, it would appear nor do the Australian Greens and Labor with no serious effort to co-operate during the campaign being made.
So, how did the big parties go in the election?
According to the Australian Electoral Commission, none of the 150 seats up for grabs have been declared yet. Labor is leading with 71 seats and needing 76 to govern on its own. That is up from 55 at the end of the 2013 election.
The Coalition comprising the Liberals, Liberal National, Country Liberals and the Nationals is down significantly from the 90 seats it had at the end of the 2013 election to 67 seats, nine short of the 76 needed to govern. Most of the losses have been incurred by the Liberal Party which has dropped from 58 to 40 seats, and the Country Liberals appear to have lost their only seat.
The A.E.C. believes it may be Tuesday at the earliest before preliminary results can be released and could be weeks before the results are finalised. This has led to the sound of knives being sharpened in the Liberal Party, as Mr Turnbull contemplates the possibility of being the first Prime Minister in 85 years to lose a first term election. Against the background knowledge that his predecessor Tony Abbott had poll ratings so bad that Labor would have been handed a landslide victory had he remained Prime Minister, the next few days will be fraught with tension for the right wing of Australian politics.
Will Mr Turnbull survive to fight another day as Prime Minister, or will the next Prime Minister of Australia be Bill Shorten?