Hung parliaments and minority governments

23 December 2010

Dr Nicholas Horne
Politics and Public Administration Section

Contents

Introduction

The hung Commonwealth Parliament

Forming the minority ALP government

Voting dynamics in the House of Representatives

The next federal election

The ability to call an election

Losing majority support

The role of the Senate in election timing

The last hung Commonwealth Parliament and minority government: 1940–43

Hung parliaments and minority governments in the states and territories

Minority government agreements in the states and territories

Hung parliaments and minority governments overseas

 

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Deirdre McKeown, Diane Spooner, Cathy Madden, Rob Lundie and Rhonda Jolly for their assistance in the preparation of this background note.

Introduction

The 2010 federal election resulted in the first hung Commonwealth Parliament and minority government for almost 70 years—unfamiliar territory for the House of Representatives and for the federal government. At the state and territory level, however, hung parliaments are common: since 1989 every state and territory has had a hung parliament (some more than once), and four jurisdictions currently have hung parliaments with associated minority governments. Hung parliaments are also common overseas.

This background note provides a discussion of the hung Commonwealth Parliament and associated matters including forming the minority Labor Government, voting dynamics in the House of Representatives, the next federal election, and the last hung Parliament of 1940–43. A listing of hung parliaments and minority governments in the states and territories since 1989 is also provided, together with a discussion of state and territory minority government agreements and some information on the overseas context.

The hung Commonwealth Parliament

For almost 70 years governments have held absolute majorities (more than half of the seats) in the House of Representatives. With the general election of 21 August 2010 this pattern was disrupted: a hung Parliament eventuated, with neither the Australian Labor Party (ALP) nor the Coalition of the Liberal Party and the Nationals obtaining an absolute majority—indeed, each side emerged with an equal number of seats. The composition of the House of Representatives after the 2010 election is set out in Table 1 below.

Table 1:   composition of the House of Representatives
following the 2010 general election
[1]

Party / affiliation

No. of members

Australian Labor Party

72

Coalition

72

—Liberal Party of Australia

60

—The Nationals

11

—Country Liberal Party

1

Cross-bench members

6

—Independents

(T Windsor, R Oakeshott,
A Wilkie
, B Katter)

4

—Australian Greens

(A Bandt)

1

—The Nationals WA

(T Crook)

1

TOTAL

150

Source: compiled from Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)
2010 election result data.

The phrase ‘hung parliament’ generally refers only to the house of parliament where government is formed. In the Senate, the absence of an absolute majority for the major parties is nothing new. From 1981 to 2005, for example, neither the ALP nor the Coalition, in government or in opposition, had an absolute majority in the Senate. In addition, for most of the last 61 years governments have not enjoyed absolute majorities in the Senate. Since 1949, when the current proportional representation voting system commenced, governments have only had absolute majorities in the Senate for a total of 16 years (1951–56, 1959–62, 1975–81 and 2005–07).

The current 76 seats in the Senate mean that a party must have at least 39 senators in order to have an absolute majority in the Senate. Neither the ALP nor the Coalition currently has an absolute majority in the Senate, and neither party will have an absolute majority from 1 July 2011 when the senators elected in 2010 take their places (the mechanics of Senate elections are discussed further below).

Since July 2008 the balance of power in the Senate has been shared between the Australian Greens, Family First, and independent Senator Nick Xenophon, and this will continue until 30 June 2011. After 1 July 2011, the Australian Greens will have the balance of power in the Senate in their own right (and will thus be in the same position as the Australian Democrats over the 1999–2001 period). The composition of the Senate both before and after 1 July 2011 is set out in Table 2 below.

Table 2:   composition of the Senate before and after 1 July 2011[2]

Party / affiliation

No. of senators to
30 June 2011

No. of senators from
1 July 2011

Australian Labor Party

32

31

Coalition

37

34

—Liberal Party of Australia

32

28

—The Nationals

4

5

—Country Liberal Party

1

1

Cross-bench senators

7

11

—Australian Greens

5

9

—Family First Party

1

—Democratic Labor Party

1

—Independents

1

1

TOTAL

76

76

Source: compiled from AEC 2010 election result data and senators’ terms data.

Forming the minority ALP government

The current 150 seats in the House of Representatives mean that the minimum number of votes required to have an absolute majority in the House and form government is 76 votes. Normally, following a general election, a party will emerge with an absolute majority in the House, and the Governor-General will appoint the leader of that party as Prime Minister and members of its frontbench as the ministry.

The Commonwealth Constitution does not provide a mechanism for resolving a hung parliament. Rather, unwritten conventions work to resolve the situation. It has been noted that, if after an election no party emerges with an absolute majority in the House of Representatives, ‘the incumbent Prime Minister, as the last person to hold the confidence of the House, has the right to remain in office and test his or her support on the floor of the House’.[3]

A hung parliament can be resolved by a variety of means. A government may be formed by a unified coalition of parties, for example, or a minority government may be established by a party that reaches an agreement with independents or another party for some degree of support. This latter type of arrangement has been a common method of resolving hung parliaments in Australia at the state level and has been utilised by the current Commonwealth Government.

Following the 2010 general election the ALP and the Coalition emerged with 72 seats each in the House of Representatives. Each side therefore required the support of at least four additional members in order to attain a majority in the House and form government. The ALP, which remained in office as caretaker government, secured an early agreement with the Australian Greens for the support of the Greens member (Adam Bandt), and both of the major parties conducted negotiations with the four non-aligned independent members.[4] Ultimately the ALP secured further agreements for the support of three of the four independents (Tony Windsor, Robert Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie) which meant that it was able to reach the requisite 76 votes and form a minority government. The Gillard Government was accordingly appointed on 14 September 2010.[5]

The remaining non-aligned independent, Bob Katter, indicated that he would support the formation of a Coalition minority government, although it is not clear whether he has established a formal agreement with the Coalition.[6] Shortly after the election the Nationals WA member, Tony Crook, indicated that he would be sitting on the cross-benches as an independent member representing the Nationals WA.[7] This stance was reiterated in early September, although it was also reported that Crook had expressed qualified support for a Coalition minority government.[8]

The agreements between the Government and the four cross-bench members encompass a broad range of matters including working relationships between the parties, reforms to parliamentary processes and specific policy agendas. It is interesting to note that the current Commonwealth Parliament is not Tony Windsor’s first experience of a hung parliament and minority government. Windsor was the independent Member for Tamworth in the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament between 1991 and 2001 and supported the Greiner minority Government during the hung NSW Parliament of 1991–95.[9]

In the lead-up to the commencement of the 43rd Parliament the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives became a point of contention due to the fact that, by virtue of section 40 of the Constitution, the party which forms government and provides the Speaker relinquishes a vote in the House.[10] In early September 2010 the ALP, the Coalition, Tony Windsor and Robert Oakeshott formulated an agreement for parliamentary reform which, among other things, specified a pairing arrangement between the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.[11] Ultimately this pairing arrangement did not eventuate and the Government provided the Speaker while the Deputy Speaker was drawn from the Coalition ranks.[12]

Voting dynamics in the House of Representatives

Importantly, the agreements between the Government and the four cross-bench members only commit those members to ensuring supply (voting for the Government’s budget legislation) and to opposing any motion of no confidence in the Government not proposed by them.[13] The cross-bench members are not committed to supporting the Government on other matters; indeed, the agreements between the Government and Tony Windsor, Robert Oakeshott, and Andrew Wilkie expressly reserve the independents’ right to vote on all legislation as they see fit. At the same time, the independents have also committed to negotiating with the Government before exercising this right.[14]

The agreements mean that, beyond the votes of its own members, the number of votes that the Government may have on most matters before the House of Representatives is variable—votes can be gained or lost from the cross-bench members depending on the issue in question. This is also true for the Opposition. The actual number of votes cast in the House from one vote to another is also variable, as the entire House does not assemble every time a vote is required—the number of members present for a given vote will depend on a range of factors such as absences, pairing arrangements and so forth.[15] Under section 40 of the Constitution votes in the House are decided by a majority of the votes actually cast (excluding the Speaker unless there is a tie). An absolute majority of the House (at least 76 votes) is only required to decide a vote in two specific situations.[16]

In the 2010 sittings of the 43rd Parliament four of the cross-bench members—Tony Windsor, Robert Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie and Adam Bandt—voted predominantly with the Government. Bob Katter voted with the Government in a little over half of the votes, and Tony Crook voted mainly with the Opposition. Voting tendencies aside, the fluidity of the cross-bench votes and the instability of majorities are basic factors, and were demonstrated very early in the 43rd Parliament. On the second sitting day of the Parliament (29 September 2010), the Government lost its first vote in the House, with Windsor and Oakeshott voting with the Opposition on amendments to the House of Representatives Standing Orders.[17] Subsequently, on 27 October 2010, Crook, who had previously voted with the Opposition, voted with the Government three times (and with the Opposition twice).[18] The division of cross-bench votes in the House of Representatives for the 2010 sittings of the 43rd Parliament is set out in Table 3 below.

Table 3:   cross-bench votes in the House of Representatives, 28 September–29 November 2010

Cross-bench member

No. of votes with the Government

No. of votes with the Opposition

Absences / other

TOTAL

T Windsor

30

6

2

38

R Oakeshott

29

6

3

38

A Wilkie

33

4

1

38

B Katter

22

11

5

38

A Bandt

35

1

2

38

T Crook

8

28

2

38

Source: compiled from House of Representatives Votes and proceedings 28 September–29 November 2010.

The next federal election

The hung Parliament and the minority Government raise the possibility of the electorate going to the polls before the next federal election would otherwise be expected. Under section 28 of the Constitution the maximum term of the House of Representatives is three years from the date of its first meeting following an election. As the House of Representatives first met after the 2010 election on 28 September 2010, its term will expire on 27 September 2013 unless it is dissolved earlier (elections are almost always called before the term of the House expires). The Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 determine the formal timetable for elections after the House of Representatives is dissolved.

As is discussed further below, if an election takes place prior to 3 August 2013 it will only be for the House of Representatives and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Northern Territory (NT) senators. None of the state senators would go to the polls at an election held before 3 August 2013 unless it was a double dissolution election.

The ability to call an election

In its agreements with the Australian Greens and with Tony Windsor and Robert Oakeshott the Government has agreed that the 43rd Parliament ‘should serve its full term’.[19] The agreement with Windsor and Oakeshott further specifies that ‘the next election will be held on a date to be agreed in September or October 2013’.[20] The Government’s agreement with Andrew Wilkie does not cover the parliamentary term or the timing of the next election. In late November 2010 it was reported that both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition expected that the ALP minority Government would serve a three-year term.[21]

While the agreements between the Government and the cross-bench members would appear to be a constraint on the Government’s ability to call an election at a time of its choosing, the fact remains that a Prime Minister can go to the Governor-General at any time with a request for dissolution of the Parliament and an election. It is for the Governor-General, however, to grant or refuse such a request. One expert has noted that ‘Vice-regal officers are entitled to refuse a dissolution if an election has only recently been held and there is an alternative, viable government’.[22]

Losing majority support

As noted above, the Government, in its agreements with the cross-bench members, has commitments from those members to ensure supply and to oppose any no-confidence motions against the Government not proposed by them. In the event that the Government did lose a no-confidence motion and thus majority support in the House, the Prime Minister, as one commentator has observed, would need to ‘either resign or advise the Governor-General to dissolve the House of Representatives, or both houses if the conditions of a ... double dissolution have been met’.[23] It has also been suggested that a Prime Minister who loses a no-confidence motion ‘has no right to advise the dissolution of Parliament and a new election, unless the Parliament is unable to function and no alternative government can be formed’.[24]

If the Government lost a no-confidence motion and it was apparent that the Opposition could command majority support in the House, the way would be open for the Governor-General to appoint the Leader of the Opposition as the Prime Minister of a new government. It has been noted that ‘[c]onvention requires that the Governor-General commission as Prime Minister the person who holds the confidence of the House of Representatives to lead the government’.[25] One scenario where a new election could be required would be where the Government lost majority support in the House and the cross-bench members did not support the Opposition to form government—where neither of the major parties, in other words, had majority support in the House.

The role of the Senate in election timing

Election timing is affected by the Senate. Under the Constitution the state senators are elected for six-year terms; the terms of the territory senators are concurrent with the term of the House of Representatives under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The Senate, unlike the House of Representatives, is a continuing body, and elections for senators are staggered. Excepting double dissolution elections, in which all senators and all members of the House of Representatives face election, half of the state senators retire on 30 June every three years and go to the polls. Importantly, under the Constitution elections for retiring senators cannot be held earlier than one year prior to their places becoming vacant.

Half of the senators in the current Senate took their places on 1 July 2008 following the 2007 election; their terms will expire on 30 June 2014. The other half of the Senate was elected in 2004; these senators’ terms commenced on 1 July 2005 and will expire on 30 June 2011. This latter group of senators went to the polls at the 2010 election, and the terms of the senators elected in 2010 will commence on 1 July 2011 and expire on 30 June 2017.[26]

If, as agreed between the Government and Tony Windsor and Robert Oakeshott, the next federal election is held in September or October 2013, it will be the ‘standard’ election for the House of Representatives, the territory senators, and those state senators due to retire in June 2014. If the next election takes place before 3 August 2013, however, and is not a double dissolution election, it will only be for the House of Representatives and the territory senators, as an election for the state senators retiring in June 2014 will not be possible before 3 August 2013. An election before 3 August 2013 would also necessitate a separate half-Senate election for the state senators retiring in 2014.

The last hung Commonwealth Parliament and minority government: 1940–43

The last hung Parliament occurred as a result of the general election of 21 September 1940. At that time there were 75 seats in the House of Representatives, and after the election the ALP and the Coalition of the United Australia Party and the Country Party emerged with 36 seats each in the House, along with three independents.[27]

The balance of power was held by two of the three independents in the House, Alexander Wilson and Arthur Coles, both of whom supported the incumbent Menzies Coalition Government and enabled it to remain in office.[28] The independents’ support lasted until 3 October 1941 when they voted with the ALP Opposition in its motion to reduce the first item in the Budget of the now Fadden-led Coalition Government by £1—‘one of the traditional forms of no-confidence motion’.[29]

This led to the resignation of Fadden and the appointment of the Curtin Labor Government on 7 October 1941. The independents continued to support the Curtin Government sufficiently to enable it to stay in office for the remainder of the Parliament. The next election was held on 21 August 1943 and the Curtin Government was returned to office with a majority.

Twenty-one years after the 1940 election another hung Parliament almost eventuated following the general election of 9 December 1961. At that time there were 124 seats in the House of Representatives, and the ALP and the Coalition of the Liberal Party and the Country Party emerged with 62 seats each.[30] The two members for the NT and the ACT, however, were only permitted by law to vote in the House on certain matters relating to the NT and the ACT, and both of these members belonged to the ALP.[31] This meant that the Coalition was able to remain in office with a 62–60 majority, although this was reduced to 61–60 after providing the Speaker for the new Parliament.

Hung parliaments and minority governments in the states and territories

Hung parliaments and minority governments are common at the state level. Since 1989 every state and territory has had at least one hung parliament and minority government, and four jurisdictions (Western Australia, the ACT, Tasmania, and the NT) are currently in this position. Hung parliaments and minority governments in the various jurisdictions since 1989 are set out in Table 4 below.

Table 4:   hung parliaments and minority governments in the states and territories,
1989–current

State / territory

Election resulting in hung parliament

Minority government

ACT

2008

Minority governments until 2004 and from 2008 (current, ALP/GRN)

2001

1998

1995

1992

1989

WA

2008

Current (LIB/NAT/IND)

TAS

2010

Current (ALP/GRN)

1996

1996–1998 (LIB/GRN)

1989

1989–1992 (ALP/GRN)

NT

*

Current (ALP/IND)

SA

2002

2002–2006 (ALP/IND)

1997

1997–1999, 2000–2002 (LIB/NAT/IND)

1989

1989–1993 (ALP/IND)

VIC

1999

1999–2002 (ALP/IND)

QLD

1998

1998 (ALP/IND)

1996**

1996–1998 (LIB-NAT/IND)

NSW

1991

1991–1995 (LIB-NAT/IND)

Source: compiled from various sources.

Notes to Table 3

* The NT Legislative Assembly became a hung parliament in August 2009 with the resignation of an ALP Government member (following the 2008 election the ALP Government had a majority of one in the Assembly). The ALP Government has continued in office since August 2009 as a minority Government with the support of one independent member.

** Following the 1995 Queensland state election the ALP Government was returned to office with a majority of one in the Legislative Assembly. A by-election in February 1996 (Mundingburra electorate) was lost by the ALP and won by the Liberal Party; the Coalition then took office as a minority Government with the support of one independent.

Minority governments were also by no means unknown in the states prior to 1989. Between 1945 and 1952, for example, Victoria had six minority governments, and the first ALP government in NSW, elected in October 1910, lost its majority in July 1911.[32]

Minority government agreements in the states and territories

A number of the minority governments in the states and territories since 1989 have involved agreements, compacts or accords between the government and the cross-bench members, for example in Tasmania (1989–92), NSW (1991–95), Victoria (1999–2002), and the current minority Western Australian, ACT and NT governments.[33] Such agreements vary, but common themes include commitments from the cross-bench members to support the government regarding supply and no-confidence motions, arrangements for the working relationship between the signatories, reforms to parliamentary processes and specific policy reform agendas.[34]

Assessments of the effectiveness of minority government agreements and cross-bench reform agendas across the states and territories have been mixed. The 1989 Tasmanian ALP/Greens Accord has been cited as one of the less successful agreements, while the 1999 Victorian ALP/independents agreement has been advanced as one of the more successful examples.[35] Of the Tasmanian ALP/Greens Accord it was estimated in 1993 that ‘about 30 per cent of the Accord agenda, measured by heads of agreement, was achieved’.[36] It has been observed that the Accord ‘did not survive beyond October 1990 as a working document’ and that it:

... lacked an effective mechanism for the Greens to exercise the power given to them in return for their guarantee of stable government ... It broke down over issues of forestry management, bringing to a head clashes that began with education policy issues not long after the Accord was signed.[37]

Another commentator has suggested that, while the Accord was ‘highly innovative in terms of policy and reform’ and ‘did deliver upfront policy benefits to the Greens’, the minority government arrangement was ‘a short-lived and acrimonious experiment’ with ‘ill-will, distrust and even malice on both sides’.[38] By contrast, the current Tasmanian ALP/Greens arrangement, which was recently reviewed, was reported in November 2010 by the parties involved to be working well with no need for significant changes.[39]

It has been noted of the 1999 Victorian Independents’ Charter and ALP/independents agreement that ‘many of the key elements of the Charter were adopted, including restoring the powers of the Auditor-General, introducing fixed four-year terms and reforming the Legislative Council’.[40] Experts have also noted that the Victorian independents ‘managed to lock in a number of important parliamentary and electoral reforms, the most noteworthy being the changes to the Legislative Council, which have now become accepted policy’.[41]

The 1991 NSW LIB-NAT/independents Memorandum of Understanding is also cited as having resulted in some significant achievements (for example the institution of four-year terms for the NSW Parliament).[42] NSW independent MP Clover Moore, however, who was one of the parties to the Memorandum of Understanding, expressed the view in 2003 that ‘[s]ince the return of majority government following the 1995 election, some of the parliamentary reforms we achieved have been watered down or effectively set aside’.[43] It has been suggested that this is a failing that ‘holds true for the other jurisdictions as well’:[44]

“Accountability independents” discovered that changing parliamentary cultures, especially in the lower houses, was to prove much more difficult than changing governments ... The difficulty lies in making the reforms durable when governments regain parliamentary majorities and no longer need to accommodate minorities.[45]

In the ACT, both the ACT Government and the ACT Greens appear to be satisfied with the progress of the current ALP/Greens Parliamentary Agreement. In November 2009 both the Government and the Greens stated that a ‘positive working relationship’ had been established in the first year of the Agreement’s operation, and that 40 of the 99 agreed items had been achieved with ‘positive progress on a number of other policy commitments’.[46]

Hung parliaments and minority governments overseas

Hung parliaments and minority/coalition governments are common in overseas jurisdictions. Indeed, one British commentator recently noted that minority/coalition governments are ‘what much of the rest of the democratic world has come to expect from its elections’:[47]

In countries such as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and most of the new democracies of Eastern Europe, it is single-party governments that are an aberration ... Even in the Westminster systems, where single-party dominance was once taken for granted, hung parliaments are now the norm ...[48]

The United Kingdom had several hung parliaments and minority governments over the course of the 20th Century, and, following the general election of May 2010, currently has a hung parliament and coalition Government (the first formal coalition government since 1945).[49] The coalition agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties sets out a reform agenda across a broad range of policy areas including electoral and parliamentary reform.[50] Although it is still relatively early in the life of the coalition Government, according to one assessment the coalition has ‘impressed many observers with its energy and clarity of vision, as well as the strong personal chemistry and trust between senior figures of the two parties’, although it has also been noted that ‘there are many difficult tests on the horizon’.[51]

Canada has had hung parliaments and minority governments at the national level continuously since 2004 and on several prior occasions dating back to 1921.[52] According to one commentator, some of the Canadian minority governments ‘are regarded as having been highly successful and effective at governing’, although ‘the current period of minority rule is not generally seen as a success’.[53] It has also been suggested that in Canada ‘many citizens and political actors view minority governments as less stable and less productive than governments with secure majorities’.[54]

New Zealand has had continuous hung parliaments and minority/coalition governments since the introduction of the mixed member proportional (MMP) representation voting system in 1996.[55] It has been observed that ‘[a]s a whole, multi-party governance in New Zealand has led to relatively stable and durable government’ and that ‘[o]verall, since the adoption of MMP, there has been no serious decline in NZ governments’ ability to enact the legislative programmes they have set out to enact’.[56]



[1].       The total for the Liberal Party of Australia (LP) includes 16 Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) members and the total for the Nationals includes five Queensland LNP members. Comprehensive House of Representatives and Senate results data for the 2010 election are available at the Australian Electoral Commission website: http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/default.htm, viewed 20 December 2010.

[2].       The totals for the LP and the Nationals to 30 June 2011 include five Queensland LNP senators and two Queensland LNP senators respectively. The totals for the LP and the Nationals from 1 July 2011 include four Queensland LNP senators and two Queensland LNP senators respectively.

[3].       A Twomey, The Governor-General’s role in the formation of government in a hung Parliament, Legal studies Research Paper no. 10/85, Sydney Law School, August 2010, p. 2, viewed 20 December 2010, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1666697##

[4].       For information on the conventions which apply to caretaker governments see Australian Government, Guidance on caretaker conventions, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.dpmc.gov.au/guidelines/docs/caretaker_conventions.pdf

[5].       Australian Government, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. S161, 16 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.ag.gov.au/portal/govgazonline.nsf/CA8A2135132ED995CA2577A0001D84F1/$file/S161.pdf; Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, no. S162, 16 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.ag.gov.au/portal/govgazonline.nsf/E941C77C0B7A1DF4CA2577A0001D84C1/$file/S162.pdf

[6].       ‘Transcript of Bob Katter’s announcement’, www.theage.com.au, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.theage.com.au/federal-election/transcript-of-bob-katters-announcement-20100907-14zf5.html

[7].       T Crook, Tony Crook media conference August 23, 23 August 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.tonycrook.com.au/News/Speeches/tabid/74/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2/Tony-Crook-Media-Conference-August-23.aspx

[8].       T Crook, Crook will remain on cross-benches, media release, 7 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.tonycrook.com.au/News/MediaReleases/tabid/73/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1/Crook-Will-Remain-On-Cross-Benches.aspx; A Probyn, ‘Crook throws Abbott a lifeline’, The West Australian, 7 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F176360%22; D Crowe, ‘Parliamentary reforms clear way for kingmakers’, Australian Financial Review, 7 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F175225%22

[9].       Windsor’s New South Wales (NSW) Parliamentary biography is available at the NSW Parliament website: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/members.nsf/1fb6ebed995667c2ca256ea100825164/e11d58cdff030e0b4a256745000165a4?OpenDocument, viewed 20 December 2010.

[10].     Under section 40 the Speaker has a casting vote in the event of a tied vote in the House.

[11].     C Pyne, Agreement for a better parliament, 7 September 2010, p. 2, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F202239%22. A pairing arrangement is ‘an unofficial arrangement between Members, organised by party whips, which can be used to enable a Member on one side of the House to be absent for any votes when a Member from the other side is to be absent at the same time or when, by agreement, a Member abstains from voting. By this arrangement a potential vote on each side of a question is lost and the relative voting strengths of the parties are maintained’: I Harris, ed, House of Representatives practice, fifth edn, Department of the House of Representatives, Canberra, 2005, pp. 278–79, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/house/pubs/practice/5ch08.pdf

[12].     E Chalmers, ‘Day one and ALP puts in Slipper’, Courier Mail, 29 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F250185%22; P Coorey, ‘All eyes on the speakers ... but no one’s talking’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F245696%22; F Kelly, ‘Interview with Christopher Pyne’, Radio National Breakfast, transcript, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 27 September 2010, p. 2, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F270023%22; M Grattan, ‘Labor still seeks pair for Speaker’, The Age, 27 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F242500%22; P Coorey, ‘Abbott won’t back down on Speaker’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F232131%22

[13].     J Gillard, W Swan, B Brown, C Milne and A Bandt, The Australian Greens & The Australian Labor Party (‘The Parties’)—Agreement, 1 September 2010, p. 1, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F165017%22; J Gillard, W Swan, T Windsor and R Oakeshott, The Australian Labor Party & the Independent Members (Mr Tony Windsor and Mr Rob Oakeshott) (‘the Parties’)—Agreement, 7 September 2010, p. 1, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22library%2Fjrnart%2F218795%22; J Gillard and A Wilkie, The Hon Julia Gillard & Mr Andrew Wilkie (‘the Parties’)—Agreement, 2 September 2010, p. 1, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F176826%22

[14].     Ibid.

[15].     For discussions of the importance of members attending votes in the House in the current Parliament and related issues such as pairing see S Elks, ‘When only death will save your hide’, The Australian, 2 October 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F258454%22; A Probyn, ‘Democracy dangles on tightrope’, The West Australian, 1 October 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F255858%22

[16].     Under section 128 of the Constitution and Standing Order 173 an absolute majority is required for the passage of bills proposing to alter the Constitution; an absolute majority is also required under Standing Order 47 to carry motions to suspend the Standing Orders that have been moved without notice.

[17].     Australia, House of Representatives, Votes and proceedings, vol. 2, 2010, p. 43, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fvotes%2F2010-09-29%2F0000%22

[18].     Australia, House of Representatives, Votes and proceedings, vol. 10, 2010, p. 138, 141–42, 146–47, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fvotes%2F2010-10-27%2F0000%22

[19].     J Gillard, W Swan, B Brown, C Milne and A Bandt, The Australian Greens & The Australian Labor Party (‘The Parties’)—Agreement, op. cit., p. 2; J Gillard, W Swan, T Windsor and R Oakeshott, The Australian Labor Party & the Independent Members (Mr Tony Windsor and Mr Rob Oakeshott) (‘the Parties’)—Agreement, op. cit., p. 2.

[20].     J Gillard, W Swan, T Windsor and R Oakeshott, The Australian Labor Party & the Independent Members (Mr Tony Windsor and Mr Rob Oakeshott) (‘the Parties’)—Agreement, op. cit., p. 2.

[21].     D Shanahan, ‘Government will run its full term, the leaders say’, The Australian, 27 November 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F391181%22

[22].     A Twomey, ‘How to succeed in a hung parliament’, Quadrant, vol. 54, no. 11, November 2010, p. 39, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22library%2Fjrnart%2F338008%22

[23].     P Gerangelos, ‘Of laws, conventions and hung parliaments’, Constitutional Law and Policy Review, vol. 12, no. 3, October 2010, p. 40, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22library%2Fjrnart%2F300471%22

[24].     Twomey, The Governor-General’s role in the formation of government in a hung Parliament, op. cit., p. 6.

[25].     Twomey, The Governor-General’s role in the formation of government in a hung Parliament, op. cit., p. 1.

[26].     The expiry dates for senators’ terms of service are available on the Senate website: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Senators/Senators_by_service_expiry_date, viewed 20 December 2010.

[27].     The ALP held 36 seats, the United Australia Party held 23 seats, and the Country Party held 13 seats: see C Hughes and B Graham, Voting for the Australian House of Representatives 1901–1964, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1974, pp. 199–213.

[28].     Wilson and Coles represented, respectively, the Victorian electorates of Wimmera and Henty. The third independent, Adair Blain, was, as the Northern Territory (NT) member, only permitted by law at the time to vote in the House on disallowance motions for NT ordinances.

[29].     Australia, House of Representatives, Votes and proceedings, vol. 47, 1940–41, p. 193, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.aph.gov.au/binaries/house/info/votes/16/1rvpf047.pdf; G Sawer, Australian federal politics and law 1929–1949, vol. 2, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1963, p. 129. Menzies had resigned as Prime Minister in August 1941.

[30].     See Hughes and Graham, Voting for the Australian House of Representatives 1901–1964, op. cit., pp. 372–87 (the members for the NT and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are not included).

[31].     The members were James Fraser (ACT) and John Nelson (NT). The full powers, immunities and privileges possessed by state members were granted to NT members in 1968 by the Northern Territory Representation Act 1968 (Cth). Restrictions on voting rights for ACT members were repealed in 1966 by the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act 1966 (Cth) and the full powers, immunities and privileges possessed by state members were explicitly granted to ACT members in 1973 by the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act 1973 (Cth) and the Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Act 1973 (Cth).

[32].     Information for Victoria supplied by the Victorian Parliamentary Library; D Clune and G Griffith, Decision and deliberation: the Parliament of New South Wales 1856–2003, The Federation Press, Sydney, 2006, pp. 214–21. See also Twomey, ‘How to succeed in a hung parliament’, op. cit., pp. 36–40.

[33].     These and other agreements have been assembled on the NSW Parliament website at: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/MinorityGovernmentsinAustralia-TextsofAccords,ChartersandAgreements, viewed 20 December 2010. The current minority government in Tasmania does not appear to involve a formal agreement constituted as such but rather the appointment of two Greens MPs as ministers on certain terms and conditions (also available on the NSW Parliament website).

[34].     Cross-bench reform agendas relating to minority government in several states and territories from 1989–2009 are discussed in G Griffith, Minority governments in Australia 1989–2009: accords, charters and agreements, Background Paper no. 1/10, NSW Parliamentary Library, Sydney, 2010, pp. 8–36, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/0/08AE982C2A0410DCCA2576DC000769EC/$File/Minority%20Governments%20Background%20Paper.pdf. See also B Costar and J Curtin, Rebels with a cause: independents in Australian politics, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2004, pp. 28–43. For a discussion of the 1991 NSW independents’ Charter of Reform see Clune and Griffith, Decision and deliberation: the Parliament of New South Wales 1856–2003, op. cit., pp. 540–51.

[35].     See for example B Costar, ‘Independent parliamentarians and accountable government’, Australasian Parliamentary Review, vol. 23, no. 1, Autumn 2008, p. 97, viewed 20 December 2010, http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22library%2Fjrnart%2F38ES6%22; Costar and Curtin, Rebels with a cause: independents in Australian politics, op. cit., p. 42; T McCall, ‘The Labor/Green Accord: a flawed political process’, in M Haward and P Larmour, eds, The Tasmanian Parliamentary Accord and public policy 1989–92: accommodating the new politics?, Federalism Research Centre, Canberra, 1993, pp. 21–29.

[36].     P Larmour and M Haward, ‘Evaluating and comparing the Accord’, in Haward and Larmour, eds, The Tasmanian Parliamentary Accord and public policy 1989–92: accommodating the new politics?, op. cit., p. 206.

[37].     S Reynolds, ‘Minority government from the other side of the fence: policy outcomes for the NSW Independents 1991–95 and the Tasmanian Greens 1989–92’, Legislative Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, Spring 1998, p. 26.

[38].     K Crowley, ‘Tasmania’s governing partnership: the possibilities and the perils’, Inside Story website, 6 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://inside.org.au/tasmanias-governing-partnership-the-possibilities-and-the-perils/

[39].     D Bartlett (Premier) and N McKim (Minister for Human Services), ‘Ministerial statement: ministerial changes’, Tasmania, House of Assembly, Debates, 11 November 2010, pp. 25, 28–29.

[40].     Griffith, Minority governments in Australia 1989–2009: accords, charters and agreements, op. cit., p. 23.

[41].     B Costar and D Hayward, ‘Victoria’s unexpected minority’, Inside Story website, 3 September 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://inside.org.au/victoria%e2%80%99s-unexpected-minority/

[42].     See Clune and Griffith, Decision and deliberation: the Parliament of New South Wales 1856–2003, op. cit., pp. 542–50; Reynolds, ‘Minority government from the other side of the fence: policy outcomes for the NSW Independents 1991–95 and the Tasmanian Greens 1989–92’, op. cit., pp. 19, 30–33.

[43].     C Moore, ‘Matter of public importance: role of independents in New South Wales’, New South Wales, Legislative Assembly, Debates, 25 June 2003, p. 2147, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hanstrans.nsf/V3ByKey/LA20030625. See also Clune and Griffith, Decision and deliberation: the Parliament of New South Wales 1856–2003, op. cit., p. 614.

[44].     Costar and Curtin, Rebels with a cause: independents in Australian politics, op. cit., p. 42.

[45].     Ibid.

[46].     ACT Government and ACT Greens, Third joint meeting between the ACT Labor Government and the ACT Greens 24 November 2009: communique, ACT Government and ACT Greens, Canberra, 24 November 2009, p. 1, viewed 20 December 2010, http://act.greens.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/Parliamentary-Agreement-Communique.pdf

[47].     A Paun, United we stand? Coalition government in the UK, Institute for Government, London, 2010, p. 13, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/pdfs/United_we_stand_coalition_government_UK.pdf

[48].     Ibid.

[49].     L Maer, Hung parliaments, House of Commons Library, London, June 2010, p. 13, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-04951.pdf

[50].     United Kingdom Government, The Coalition: our programme for government, Cabinet Office, London, 2010, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/coalition_programme_for_government.pdf

[51].     Paun, United we stand? Coalition government in the UK, op. cit., p. 41.

[52].     Parliament of Canada, ‘Duration of minority governments 1867 to date’, Parliament of Canada website, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www2.parl.gc.ca/Parlinfo/compilations/parliament/DurationMinorityGovernment.aspx#PageTop

[53].     M Chalmers, ‘Canada’s dysfunctional minority Parliament’, in R Hazell and A Paun, eds, Making minority government work: hung parliaments and the challenges for Westminster and Whitehall, Institute for Government, London, 2009, pp. 26, 36, viewed 20 December 2010, http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/pdfs/making-minority-gov-work.pdf

[54].     Ibid.

[55].     B Yong, ‘New Zealand’s experience of multi-party governance’, in Hazell and Paun, eds, Making minority government work: hung parliaments and the challenges for Westminster and Whitehall, op. cit., p. 40.

[56].     Ibid., pp. 38, 50.

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