It probably won’t be till the end of the week that we know the final make-up of the House of Representatives, but one thing that’s certain is that Howard has been sent packing and soundly so.
So too have many of his Government’s ministers, but thankfully all those Liberals known to support further gay rights reforms have been returned, save those who were retiring – Bruce Baird and Warren Entsch.
Joe Hockey, Judi Moylan, Petro Georgio, Mal Washer, Malcolm Turnbull and Brendan Nelson have all been returned, with Senator Nick Minchin not up for re-election.
Even better, now that Peter Costello has dropped his leadership ambitions, both front-runners for the leadership of the party in Opposition are from among this group. Turnbull and Nelson are the top contenders, with the nearest right-winger, Tony Abbott, flailing far behind them in the race.
This hopefully indicates that the Liberals in Opposition will let all or at least most of the 58 HREOC reforms pass unhindered in the first term of a Rudd Labor Government.
The result should also be taken as a powerful message for the party’s Christian Right faction – Australians voted on perceived economic credentials and trustworthiness, not narrow-minded notions of morality or religious suprematism.
Even where the Liberals’ right faction did get candidates through it was mostly at a reduced margin. A case in point is Alex Hawkes in Mitchell, where possibly the most outspoken bigot that Generation X is yet to produce suffered a swing of nearly eight percent against him despite it being one of the most blue ribbon Liberal seats in the country.
For the final Senate result we’ll have to wait a lot longer. It looks as if it will be split almost straight down the middle, depending on whether the Greens pick up their final sixth senator. How problematic this will be is yet to be seen, but it would have been nicer if more seats had gone to the crossbench – despite all predictions there was a massive drop in the minor party vote.
The high Green vote that got Labor over the line in many key seats will put pressure on a Rudd Government to deliver on gay rights and other progressive issues. Bennelong was among these and the party had good showings in Tasmania and in all of Australia’s key pink electorates.
And in Grayndler, Saeed Khan may still edge past the Liberal candidate, picking up his preferences and putting more pressure on sitting member Anthony Albanese.

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