Should Voters be Concerned About Casualties in Political Shake-up?

THE casualties of the fortnight of voter rejection include Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie, Cory Bernardi and Richard Di Natale.

The Greens missed a sitter in Batman, and flopped in Tasmania, while incursion parties with high-profile leaders failed in Tasmania and South Australia.

In the 2016 elections there were 51 parties with candidates.

They took a quarter of the House of Representatives primary vote which otherwise might have gone to the ALP and the Liberal/National Coalition.

It might be that 2016 was the peak year for voters’ turning their backs on the major parties in such numbers.

South Australian SA-BEST Leader Nick Xenophon did not take any seats in latest election. (AAP Image/Kelly Barnes)

While voters are too sceptical about both major parties to return to the old days of rusted-on loyalties, there are indications they want the stability and policy certainty denied by minor parties and individuals more involved in self-promotion than policy debate.

Late Saturday night Mr Xenophon addressed supporters of his SABest party after an exhausting state polling day.

“We are here to shake up the two-party duopoly,” he told them.

And he claimed success: “We have shaken up politics in this state like never before.”

There wasn’t much evidence of that.

Jacqui Lambie’s candidates were all rejected by voters. (CHRIS KIDD)

Just last week Nick Xenophon was sharing the stage with the Labor and Liberal leaders in a final debate before Saturday’s state election in South Australia.

He had come from nothing to equal ranking with the majors and had 30 SaBest candidates in the poll.

But when Mr Xenophon spoke to supporters late Saturday night he knew he would not win the seat he was contesting, and SABest would take just two seats, more likely none.

The Australian Conservatives formed by ex-Liberal senator Cory Bernardi in his home state of South Australia were an irrelevance in the poll.

Two weeks ago former senator Jacqui Lambie didn’t stand in the Tasmanian election but her clunky-named Jacqui Lambie Network stood 12 candidates. All were rejected by voters.

Senator Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives were not received well. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

Of the 25 elected to the state lower house from the five multi-member seats, the Liberals totalled 13, Labor 10, and the Greens a miserable two.

The federal consequences of the two Saturday polls are significant. Batman will be seen as an endorsement of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor’s capacity to keep inner-urban Greens in check.

It will also be seen as a tick for Mr Shorten’s bold move to release a policy hitting the incomes of some retirees in the week before Batman.

And, given his Batman-directed comments, Mr Shorten is now committed to rejecting the Adani coal project in Queensland.

Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale’s leadership will be closely assessed after latest results. (AAP Image/Ellen Smith)

The South Australian result will give Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull another buddy among premiers, Liberal Steve Marshall, but of more importance it will remove a Turnbull opponent, Labor’s Jay Weatherill.

Today Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the SA outcome was “very good” for the Government’s National Energy Guarantee.

Jay Weatherill clashed with the Federal Government on the policy with a priority for renewables and two big battery projects.

The fortnight’s results will also put a focus on the Greens’ leadership of Richard Di Natale, head of a party with an increasing number of internal schisms.