1. Um, why don’t we have a new prime minister yet?
Because neither of the major parties won enough seats to form a majority in parliament. There are 150 seats in the House of Representatives, so you need 76 if you want to pass any of your bills. No one got that (yet), so now they’ve got to figure out who’s in charge.
2. Is Malcolm Turnbull still PM? Or do we just not have one right now?
Malcolm Turnbull is still the prime minister, but once an election is called, the government goes into “caretaker” mode, which means the PM can’t make any important decisions until we have an election result.
Public servants keep doing their jobs, making sure things run smoothly, and if anything important happens - like a natural disaster - the PM would consult with the opposition on any big calls.
3. How did this happen?
Pretty simple. Not enough people liked Labor or the Coalition enough to give them their vote. Because of that, neither side won enough seats to form a majority in the lower house, which is where government is formed.
This is actually something that is happening in a lot of big western countries. In America, people are voting for Trump, who is a political outsider. In the UK, they just voted for Brexit against the advice of both major party leaders. People just seem to hate politicians at the moment. I mean... more than usual.
4. What’s happening now?
There are about eight seats left where the final result isn’t clear. The Australian Electoral Commission is counting votes in those seats, trying to figure out the winner. Once those winners have been declared, we’ll know more about who’s in charge.
5. What actually IS a hung parliament? (heh).
It means neither Labor nor the Coalition has a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, so they’ll have to rely on independent and minor party MPs to help them get stuff done. At best, this process is orderly and consultative. At worst, it’s chaos.
6. Didn’t this only happen like six years ago? What’s wrong with us?
It did. Julia Gillard failed to secure a majority in 2010 so governed with the help of the Greens and a few independent MPs. Her parliament was productive but the Labor party was a mess, and the voters booted them out in 2013.
7. Does someone actually have to go through every single ballot and count them by hand?
Yes, that’s why it’s taking so long.
8. Why can’t a computer do it?
What if the computer is wrong? What if all that important voter data is leaked? What if someone fixes the machines to favour a certain party? Electronic voting is pretty risky. If you've watched Scandal, you know what's up.
9. If all those dummies had actually voted instead of drawing dicks and voting for gorillas, would we still have this problem?
The actual number of people who lodged an informal vote is pretty low, but in some seats where the vote is super close, yes, it might make a bit of a difference.
10. How long is it going to take to get an actual result?
We should know who the prime minister will be before the end of the week. It may take a few weeks before we know who has been elected in the Senate.
11. And what does everyone do while we wait to find out?
Bill Shorten is doing a “victory lap”, which is cheeky, because he didn’t win. Malcolm Turnbull is trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Both sides are calling independent MPs just in case they need their support in the new parliament.
The rest of us are just getting on with our lives.
12. If it actually takes this long to count every vote, does that mean that they don’t usually count every vote?
Nah, it just means that when the result is clear (like in 2013), we know who the winner is pretty early. The final count still takes a while, we usually just don’t pay much attention to it.
13. What happens if they count the rest of the votes and it’s still a tie?
Either the independent and minor party MPs will pick a side and that side gets to govern for the next three years, or we go back and have another election.
14. Would we really have to go through this whole thing ALL OVER AGAIN?
It’s entirely possible but very unlikely. The Coalition would have to go to parliament and test the numbers to see if it has enough support. If it doesn’t, the governor general would invite Labor to have a crack. If neither side can get it done, the GG might make us go and vote again.
15. Why am I hearing so much about Pauline Hanson again?
She’s back! Pauline was a member in the House of Representatives for three years in the '90s. This time she’s a senator, and she might be bringing a couple of mates with her. The Senate has final say on the policies that make it through into law.
Neither side will have a majority there either, so they’ll have to negotiate with crossbenchers. One of those crossbenchers is Pauline, which means she might trade her vote for things that really matter to her - like a royal commission into whether Islam is a religion. (It is.)
16. Why is this all such a big mess?
Well, that’s a really big question. The short answer is that people don’t like politicians at the moment, especially the major parties, so they’re looking elsewhere. Malcolm Turnbull admitted as much yesterday and promised to be better. Bill Shorten kind of agrees, he reckons politics needs to return to the middle ground and away from the fringes.
Whether either of these guys keeps their word is yet to be seen.
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Rob Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jemima Skelley is a senior writer for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney.
Contact Jemima Skelley at email@example.com.
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