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The Rudd government has loudly proclaimed two things. Firstly, that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that man-made climate change is real (women are not, apparently to blame) and an ETS is the only economically viable solution.* Surely any political opposition to such blatant truths will lose badly in the polls. Secondly, it has proclaimed that it will not seek a double-dissolution trigger on climate change.

*Not that I disagree with this proposition in the slightest: see past posts on climate change.

Actually, having just read the paper today, I think I’d better amend that. It has proclaimed another thing – if the Senate rejects its health care referendum legislation, the Rudd government will forcibly pass it using a double-dissolution trigger.

Well thank God. Let’s not hold a double-dissolution based on something as controversial as global warming. Instead, let’s have one based on health care reform. As the US experience shows, that can’t possibly be controversial. They just held a bipartisan summit on health care and everyone just sat around agreeing with each other.

Plus, referendums are even less contentious. Of the 44 which have been put before the people, 8 have succeeded. That’s almost a 1 in 5 chance, which is your chance of dying in a game of Russian roulette (using a gun with 5 bullet slots). Plus, based on historical precedent, there is a 0% chance of passing a referendum opposed by one of the major parties in government.

So, if I were a betting man (and by which I mean, completely ignorant of the laws of probability, because that’s what it takes to become a gamblaholic), my money is on Rudd going for a double-dissolution on the riskiest issue in Australian politics.

But, since I’m not a betting man, but actually a numbers stooge, here’s one of the few predictions I’ll make. Rudd is not going to call a double-dissolution election based on the Senate refusing the health care referendum. He’s just posturing so the Senate will go his way. A double dissolution election just isn’t in Rudd’s interests because it means that minor parties are more likely to get into the Senate.

The way the Senate vote is counted, if the Senate is wholly dissolved there are 12 seats up for grabs in each state instead of the usual 6. Since the two major parties only get about 30-40% of the primary vote each, getting the first 5-6 seats sucks up all their votes so that the quota for getting the 7th, 8th etc seats is much lower and even useless parties like Family First can grab them. And a double-dissolution election where climate change gets a big say will heavily favour the Greens. The last thing Rudd wants is is a dual attack from the rabid right and the loony left at the same time. Regardless of what legislation triggers the power for Rudd to call a double dissolution, we know that climate change will (probably) play a large role in the next election. And we know that on health care, Abbott has experience (even if it somehow comes without any credibility) in that field as the former Minister for Health and preventing abortions and stem cell research.


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