Congratulations to the new Australian Government Ministers assisting schools across Australia

What will the change of Government mean for Christian schools?


Counting is continuing, the new Parliament is not expected to sit until late July, but the shape and impact of the election and the composition of the 47th Commonwealth Parliament is already clear.

House of Representatives

While the Coalition received the majority of first preference votes in the House of Representatives, the ALP has a majority on the floor of Parliament with 77 of the 151 seats.

There are, at present, 798,730 informal votes representing 5.17% of those cast.  The first preference votes shown as ‘Independent’ in the AEC count includes votes for ALL independent candidates across all 151 electorates, not merely the so called ‘teal’ independents or those who were elected.

The Coalition lost first preference votes in every jurisdiction except Tasmania, the ALP also suffering swings against it everywhere except the ACT and Western Australia.

The election outcome will mean that the result on the floor of the House will be:

  • ALP – 77 seats (+8 seats)
  • Coalition – 58 seats (-18 seats)
  • Greens – 4 seats (+3 seats)
  • Katter’s Australia Party – 1 seat
  • Centre Alliance – 1 seat
  • Independents – 10 seats (+7 seats)

With an ALP member in the Chair this still leaves a working majority, with the minor parties and independents being largely irrelevant in the working of the House of Representatives.

Senate

The counting is still underway, with the final seats in two states, Victoria and South Australia still undecided according to the ABC analysis.  On current counts these are predicted to go to the United Australia Party and Coalition respectively.  In the ACT, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania the ABC is forecasting likely results – but these are not yet confirmed.

The results as currently predicted by the ABC are shown here.

On current forecast likely results, the Senate composition is likely to be:

  • Coalition – 31 seats
  • ALP – 26 seats
  • Greens – 12 seats
  • One Nation – 2 seats
  • Jacqui Lambie Network – 2 seats
  • Independent (David Pocock) – 1 seat

With two seats undecided, but neither is expected to go to the ALP.

This means that to pass legislation through the Senate the Government must get either:

  • support from the Opposition, or
  • support from the Greens and one other cross-bench Senator.

There is no way that the Government can pass legislation through the Senate without the support of either the Opposition or Greens.

Expect to see significant horse trading with the Greens in the Senate, and varying deals being done with different minor parties or David Pocock to secure the final vote needed.  Where this final vote comes from is unlikely to concern the Government greatly, but could result in some very interesting ‘benefits’ flowing to Tasmania or the ACT.

Impacts for Christian Schools

There is little, if any, appetite within the Government to significantly alter funding for non-government schools.  In response to our pre-election requests, the then Shadow Minister did outline a range of proposed initiatives proposed by the ALP should they win government, largely focussing on government schools.

Less certain is the likelihood of this Parliament passing a fair religious discrimination bill that even meets the relatively low benchmark of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2022 introduced by the former government.

The Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, has spoken recently about passing such legislation during ‘this term’, belying any urgency for the legislation.  In the same media reports he indicated that the Government would ‘legislate to protect LGBT students by changing the Sex Discrimination Act, which allows schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity’ at the same time.

Based on earlier comments and policies, the Greens would support amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act further than those proposed by the government.  Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock are understood to hold similar positions.  The Opposition was clear in February that these proposals were unacceptable.

The Opposition is also very unlikely to accept any proposed religious discrimination laws they consider to provide lesser protection than the Religious Discrimination Bill 2022.  However the Greens and some of the crossbench Senators are likely to support such an approach.

This leaves two clear pathways –

  • a legislative package passed with Opposition support, which many Christian schools may find acceptable, or
  • a package passed with support of The Greens and crossbench, which would be very unfavourable to Christian schools across Australia.
The Albanese-led Labor Government may need the support of the Greens party to pass some legislation