While the final outcome is still unknown, the weekend’s federal election looks to have been a good result for friends and allies of the GLBTI community.
The Greens recorded a swing of nearly 4 percent towards their party nationally, taking the seat of Melbourne from Labor and recording their highest primary vote in a seat — 36.1 percent — in any election.
The GLBTI-friendly Liberal Malcolm Turnbull increased his share of the vote in Wentworth despite a small swing to the Greens. He will be joined by Queensland Liberal National Party MP Warren Entsch, who has returned to Parliament after coming out of retirement. Entsch famously spoke out against his own Government’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.
In Sydney the Greens recorded a swing of 3.1 percent against returning MP Tanya Plibersek, a traditional friend of the GLBTI community who has taken a lot of flak for refusing to publicly support same-sex marriage.
In Grayndler, former Marrickville mayor Sam Byrne has made the seat marginal and has an outside chance of toppling Labor’s Anthony Albanese in a recount to win the Greens a second seat in the House of Representatives.
Counting continues in Denison where independent Andrew Wilkie, a former Green, is battling to take the Tasmanian seat from Labor.
To form Government in a hung parliament, a major party must be able to secure a coaltion of at least 76 seats.
The Greens’ new Melbourne MP, Adam Bandt, has indicated he will support Labor forming Government, while three rural independents have indicated they will be looking for stability in deciding who to back — possibly a nod to the Greens’ large presence in the Senate. In the last parliament two of these independents, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, voted more often with the Government than with the Coalition.
Family First senator Steve Fielding was not re-elected, but could be replaced by John Madigan from the socially conservative Democratic Labor Party.
However, Madigan and remaining independent senator Nick Xenophon’s votes would be largely irrelevant in the Senate where ABC election analyst Antony Green is predicting nine Greens, two independents, 31 ALP, and 34 Coalition senators.
Thirty-nine votes are required for a bill to pass the Senate.
Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich said the increase in the Greens vote was a lesson for Labor.
“The message is clear,” Greenwich said. “Labor must stop opposing marriage equality if it is to win back the trust and support of the Australian community and the Greens have a clear mandate to achieve marriage equality.
“The 2010 election campaign saw the issue of marriage equality move to the centre of the political stage, and now the result has seen achieving marriage equality move into the realms of real possibility.”
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young promised to introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage as her first priority after the election. However, this will most likely not occur until after July 1 2011 so the newly-elected Greens senators can vote.