Friday, January 22, 2021

The Federal Government's Majority Is Three Seats, Not One

(23 FEB 2021: Scroll down for Craig Kelly update; the headline is now out of date!)


I have a number of pieces half-written, in the pipeline, or mostly written but not quite right yet, and hopefully most of them will see the light of day sooner or later, though I am extremely busy with contract work and other things through to about mid-February.  However having seen quite a few people making false claims about the size of the federal government's majority on social media lately, I thought I would just correct them and also make the case for using one convention of defining a majority instead of some of the others some people are using. 

The best way to define a government's majority, conventional in the UK especially, is the number of government seats minus the number of non-government seats.  In this case, 77-74=3.  In Australia it is fairly common to see alternative methods used involving the number of MPs who have to vote with the other side for a bill to be defeated.  However, these methods are inferior, because the mathematical consequences of every possible majority in the conventional form are different, but for the votes-to-swing methods this isn't always true. As a result, the votes-to-swing methods lose useful information and create confusion.