The new government was sworn in on 19 July 2016, following the election on 2 July 2016. We had a caretaker government from 9 May 2016 until 19 July 2016, depending on which political party you ask, during which time no major policy changes or decisions ought to have been made. We previously published an article regarding caretaker governments on our website, and what it means when a government is in caretaker mode. You can read that article if you follow this link.
This will now be our government, unless we have another double dissolution, until 2019. There has been a lot of talk about whether either party would get a majority, or whether we would have a hung parliament. Some people feel this can be a good thing as it has worked in the United Kingdom. In Australia there are some hurdles to get over before you can have a ‘hung’ parliament.
A hung parliament can also be called a balanced parliament, and it simply means that no party has a simple majority. As history should have taught us, individuals hold seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate not parties. If that individual should change parties or vote against the party on any individual matter then the party cannot remove that politician or otherwise force them into line.
While a hung parliament is not necessarily an issue, in Australia our constitution requires that one party must hold a majority in the lower house in order to form government. One practical issue is that someone has to convince the Governor General that they can hold the office of Prime Minister and defeat a vote of no confidence (that is, that they have enough support at least to hold that office, if not enough support to back all of their parties proposals). Julia Gillard had to strike deals with minor party politicians in order to convince the Governor General that she could hold the office of Prime Minister. These minor party politicians did not have to back her on every piece of legislation, but in all fairness neither did the members of her own party.
In practice it is uncommon for a government to hold a majority in the Senate as well, and so the government would need to get support in the Senate from minor parties or from the other major party in order to pass their legislation.