I read in the Saturday papers that Windsor and Wilkie — two of the three independents the ALP needs to survive confidence motions — have said that they are open to a new ALP leader. Presumably the ALP can count on Green Bandt, so they need only sure up Oakshot and they will be able to pull off a coup without the risk of immediately losing Government.
This suggests two things to me. First, that the independents have been sounded out on the issue – confirming my hunch that where there is smoke there is fire. Second, that these independents realize that the prior election gave them an unusual amount of power, and that a new election is likely to result in a diminution of their influence.
It should be clear to all that economics exerts it’s tug, even here — a benefit of backing the ALP was that it maximized the power of the independents, as a group. This is constant until the arithmetic of the house changes — it does not matter who leads the ALP.
When Windsor and Oakshot made their decisions last year, they framed them in high minded ‘what is right for Australia’ terms. I would have preferred it if they had just said that this arrangement would allow them to extract the maximum amount of rents for their electorate.
Given the unpopularity of their allegiance within their own electorates, they need to deliver results to justify their decisions. As the ALP gets more unpopular, I would expect that the need to relieve their electoral chafe will increase.
I wonder if they will be able to deliver enough pork-fat to save their own bacon?