Two weeks since the Australian federal election. The voters have done their job, and done it well (except perhaps for those who followed the Mark Latham "blank vote" line). The numbers have fallen in almost a complete tie. So be it.
There's no hurry to form a fresh government. The incumbents are carrying on in caretaker mode just nicely, and Julia Gillard will have first stab at forming a minority government. Negotiations continue as to which (if either) side Messrs Katter, Windsor and Oakeshott will take.
There would be a glorious symmetry at work if Gillard were to spend just two days in parliament as the Prime Minister: June 24, the day Kevin Rudd was knifed and last day of the winter session; and the first day of a new parliament where she loses a vote for speaker and immediate no-confidence motion. But I, and probably all of us, hope that the resolution is, one way or the other, more stable than that.
Considering how shonkily the Liberal leadership have behaved in presenting (and mis-representing) the costings of their election pledges, it would be easy to imagine that their chances of forming a government at this time have fallen down a large Mr Rabbit-hole. But today it's still difficult to tell.
There are so many If Onlys that could be contemplated about this election. Campaign tactics are not the issue, except inasmuch that the electorate got sick and tired of shallow campaign tactics and over-tacticing (and please acknowledge me if I have just invented a new word).
Let me be mischievous and lay the blame - if the Lib/Nat alliance fails to get up - fairly and squarely at the feet of former Deputy Prime Minister and AWB denialist Mark Vaile. If he had found the responsibility of representing his constituents from opposition a little more palatable and not spat the dummy and quit politics in mid-2008, then Rob Oakeshott would not have entered Federal Parliament. Indeed, Vaile's electorate of Lyne (encompassing Taree, Port Macquarie and other conservative-leaning mid-north coast NSW areas) may well have remained in National Party hands, instead of being represented by an unusually enlightened small-l liberal independent, who may well be offering Labor the passage of supply next week.
Whilst the Labor (caretaker) government has maintained a well-disciplined silence ever since Gillard forbade hatchetperson Senator Mark Arbib from appearing on Q&A last Monday week, the Libs have been making ever more desperate and bizarre public utterances. Andrew Robb's televised defences of the economically indefensible have strained even his credibility as alternative finance minister. The Hef (and I still think he has street cred, or perhaps dirt track cred on climate change) pretends to be the devil. In your dreams, Bill.
The outstanding quote, however, goes to Joe Hockey. The Shrekster has warned that any government consisting of the Labor Party, the Greens, Andrew Wilkie, Bob Katter and the other independents would be the "most centre-left government in Australian history".
I tried drafting a diagram of Australian governments in magnitude of "most centre-leftness". And then I burst out laughing.