… and finally, the small matter of the result. The winner is Labor. Not a famous victory by any stretch of the imagination, but under the circumstances they’ll be happy with the four points. For my part, I have my doubts about members of parliament going against the obvious preference of their constituents in so fundamental a matter as government formation, barring the proverbial extraordinary and reprehensible standards. I’m not entirely sure that a bit of creative accounting from the Coalition clears the bar on this count. That said, I have no doubt – none – that conservatives tempted to echo these sentiments will find themselves constrained by their philosophy’s most eloquent champion, Edmund Burke, who famously told his constituents: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion”. (Burke’s speech has been given a fair run around the place in recent times, including by apparently learned people who would do well to read it through to the end.)

Besides, my difference of opinion with Windsor and Oakeshott is purely a matter of degree – there were respectable arguments that could have been mounted whichever way they jumped. Ultimately they deserve our gratitude for the patient and considered fashion with which they have navigated through their delicate position. Most particularly, they should be heartily congratulated for ignoring a fortnight’s worth of quacking and bleating from a section of the media that does not at heart believe in consensus, checks and balances or even particularly in democracy. Whatever uncertainties might lie ahead, one thing is sure: these voices will spend the coming months and/or years peddling distortions and hyperbole to create a sense of crisis about a situation which in reality has every chance of serving Australia well. Long may the independents continue to turn a deaf ear.

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