This post updates our earlier advice on the shape of the new Parliament and how it affects key issues for industry.
The full results of the 2016 Federal election are now known – pending a potential re-run of one exceptionally close lower house race. The final outcome has a big impact on issues that matter for industry, from industrial relations to the tax system.
In the lower house, the Coalition has secured a bare majority, and also has an additional buffer on votes of confidence and supply through the support of crossbenchers Bob Katter, Cathy McGowan and Rebekha Sharkie. Strong internal unity and coordination within the Coalition will be needed to maintain Government and advance an agenda with such a margin.
In the Senate, no group has a majority, and all must negotiate to reach the 39 votes needed to pass legislation or take other actions. The Coalition (30 seats) needs an additional 9 votes to pass legislation, which they can secure through deals with the ALP (26 seats), the Greens (9 votes) or with 9 out of 11 crossbenchers. The ALP could pass its own motions only with the support of the Greens and at least 4 of 11 crossbenchers.
The crossbench comprises two larger blocs – the Nick Xenophon Team (3 seats) and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party (4 seats) – both of whose support is needed if the crossbench is to help pass Government motions. The remaining Senators are each sole representatives of their respective groupings. Senators Bob Day of Family First and David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party collaborated closely on some issues in the last Parliament. The approaches of Senators Jackie Lambie and Derryn Hinch in the new Parliament remain to be seen.
The House and Senate numbers provide a narrow window of possibility for the passage of the Government’s legislation to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and tighten treatment of registered industrial organisations. These Bills were the trigger for the double dissolution election. If they are presented to the Parliament again in the same form, and then rejected by the Senate again, the Government has the option of calling a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament to consider the legislation. The hurdle to pass the Bills at a joint sitting would be 114 votes out of 226 combined seats.
Based on the expressed views of the parties to date, it appears that support for the ABCC in particular looks like this:
|Support ABCC||Oppose ABCC||Unknown/flexible|
|Coalition (76 House, 30 Senate)
Cathy McGowan (1 House)
Family First (1 Senate)
|ALP (69 House, 26 Senate)
Greens (1 House, 9 Senate)
Katter, Wilkie (2 House)
Jackie Lambie (1 Senate)
|Nick Xenophon Team (1 House 3 Senate)
One Nation (4 Senate)
LDP (1 Senate)
Hinch (1 Senate)
|77 House, 31 Senate||72 House, 36 Senate||1 House, 9 Senate|
Therefore, the ABCC bill will pass the House by a margin of 2 (or 3 if NXT support), with 77 or 78 votes of 76 needed
The ABCC bill will then get at least 31 of the 39 votes it needs in the Senate, and could get up to 40 if all undecided crossbenchers support it. One Nation and Xenophon must support it if it is to pass; either Hinch or Leyonhjelm is also needed.
If it fails in the Senate and goes to a joint sitting, the ABCC bill would get at least 108 votes and would need at least a further 6 out of 10 undecided parliamentarians. That is slightly easier than winning 9 out of 11 undecided crossbench Senators. Passage of this legislation is possible, though it will require hard work.
As we previously advised, on other matters the Senate looks to be challenging for the Government to push an agenda through. Bipartisan issues can make progress and should be a priority. In some circumstances the Coalition and the Greens may find common ground. Using the crossbench will require the Coalition to make at least four deals to secure support; if the larger blocs were to fragment, their individual Senators’ power would decrease but the complexity of putting deals together would grow.
Whichever approaches the Government uses, the next Parliament promises to be anything but dull.
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