Election 2013 media panel

Final thoughts on a boring election

People have been shocked to read that a brawl broke out after the football on the weekend. Yet after 33 days of snarling at each other Australians lined up and cast their votes on Saturday with no reports (that I have seen) of any brawling.

It was all rather boring - especially given that the sitting government lost and was expected to lose. Boring is good. A centre-left government got tossed out and a centre-right government installed. If the new government doesn’t perform, they’ll get tossed out sooner rather than later. That is how our system is supposed to work, and it works well.

To be sure there is also a lot of disappointment. I’ve had to explain to my children that even though the (now former) government promised that Mr Abbott was going to cut spending on schools, they still had to go to school this morning.

All up given it was a boring election the media struggled to maintain interest. Sky News did a magnificent job on its coverage - but it’s audience is much smaller than it deserves.

Where the media has done poorly, I think, is on Senate coverage. While the government in formed in the House, policy outcomes are highly dependent on the make-up of the Senate.

Since Saturday night we’ve heard a lot commentary about minor parties and the need for Senate reform. I was particularly bemused watching Christine Milne on Sky complaining about extreme right-wingers getting elected. That is a bit rich - nobody will ever accuse Bob Day or David Leyonhjelm of being foreign agents of influence. In any event, they’re hardly extreme.

Of course, the final count is yet to be completed. Yet in the meantime there haven’t been many serious media attempts to understand the policy platforms on the likely minor party Senators. That is understandable in the case of the Sports party in Western Australia or the Motorists in Victoria. There can be no excuse for not having a serious analysis of Family First, the Palmer United Party, or the Liberal Democrats.

Yes - there are good arguments for voting reform in the Senate but not liking the outcome of the existing voting system isn’t a good enough argument. The Greens used to complain that the major parties conspired to lock them out of the system, now it looks like they want to participate in that conspiracy.

Want to write?

Write an article and join a growing community of more than 112,900 academics and researchers from 3,686 institutions.

Register now