I had an unpleasant surprise today when ex-Prime Minister John "The Rodent" Howard walked past me during my lunch break - though due to a combination of despondency caused by the abysmal election result and the extremely hot early spring weather and resulting haze of bushfire smoke over central Sydney I was too lethargic to heckle him (plus it's not really the done thing - everyone else was ignoring him too).
I've taken to referring to our new PM as the "suppository of wisdom" as it was his most memorable line from the election campaign and I think it accurately describes the originating point of most of his opinions.
The composition of the new Parliament is pretty bizarre - the lower house is pretty much irrelevant with a LNP majority so the weird spectacle that coal baron / Chinese emissary / Titanic exhumer and would be dinosaur farmer Clive Palmer presents is much less of an issue than it would have been if there was still a hung Parliament (though the cross benches will obviously need reinforcement before Parliament sits again).
The Senate, on the other hand, still matters - however my hopes of the balance of power resting with the Greens and Independents were fulfilled, much to my dismay. While the last Parliament had a highly rational group of independents (plus Bob Katter - end even he is better than most of the Liberals) we've now got a weird grab bag of fringe Senators who I suspect will make the average right wing conspiracy theorist seem pretty normal (one of them literally is an open 9/11 skeptic, bless him). The chances of them keeping the carbon tax in place seem slim (introducing logging in all national parks, on the other hand, looks like a distinct possibility), though Nick Xenophon has surprised me by saying he favours retaining it. Perhaps the others will also surprise me and try to hold Tony over a barrel for the next 3 years in the hopes of having their pet projects supported in exchange for their votes.
The Senate is an orderly place where wise backsides sit on claret-coloured benches and tend to important legislative matters. The undignified antics of the House of Representatives are not welcome in democracy's great red room, where speeches are measured, voting orderly, and attitudes as pompous as practicable.
But thanks to the quirks of proportional representation, a terrible beauty has been born in the upper house this federal election. As of next year, it will be invaded by a bunch of unknown new senators who look to be about as governable as a barrelful of monkeys.
First and most honourable mention goes to Ricky Muir, a Victorian from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast party. Yesterday Muir came to national attention, not so much because he was elected to high office, but because a video of him emerged engaging in hand-to-hand combat using the unlikely (yet patriotic) weaponry of kangaroo poo
The video, entitled ''Family Fight in Australia'' (precipitously removed from Muir's YouTube channel on Sunday), appears to show the senator-elect on a camping trip, pelting pellets of marsupial faeces at his bearded brother.
Later, his brother retaliates and a man who looks a lot like Muir spits on him from atop a 4WD. The prankery continues when Muir creeps up on his brother from behind, beer in hand. In one assured movement, he pulls his brother's black tracksuit pants down to his ankles. It is some of the most magnificent bogan horseplay ever committed to film.
Muir went to ground on Monday but needn't have. Frankly we could do with more dackings in the senate.
And then there is Liberal Democrat senator-elect David Leyonhjelm, a complete unknown even to many of the people who voted for him. His name appeared first on the NSW Senate ballot paper and he seems to have been the unconscious choice of uninterested voters who just number the boxes in the order in which they appear. ''Looks like I'm going to be the senator for the donkeys!'' he said cheerfully on Sunday. And indeed, donkeys need leadership more than most.
Not to forget Wayne Dropulich, a West Australian from Australian Sports Party. He polled just 0.22 per cent of the initial vote, used to play grid iron and was surprised - alarmed, even - at his victory. He makes for a promising senatorial adornment, as do the Palmer United Party candidates and the Family First candidate.
Giles Parkinson at Renew Economy thinks that large scale wind development is going to get crunched for now (though with falling electricity demand its not likely any gas or coal fired generation will get built either) and that small scale solar PV is the only form of renewables likely to keep growing - Wind energy biggest loser as Abbott sweeps to power and Hunt says no new loans from CEFC – ‘giant green hedge fund’.
Tony Abbott was swept to power on Saturday and declared the country to be under new management and “open for business.” If it is true for any industries, it is certainly not the case for large-scale renewables.
The wind energy sector is probably the biggest and most immediate loser from this election result. It has been at a virtual standstill for months because utilities who write contracts, and the bankers who finance the projects, were mindful of a likely Coalition win, and yet another review of the large-scale renewable energy target (LRET)
That review will now take place, but will unlikely to be completed until the end of 2014, and the findings may not be known until early 2015. The Coalition certainly appears in no hurry, and unless the renewables industry can find a compromise, it will have to wait for the result. To make matters worse, the review may not be completed by the Climate Change Authority – which last year rejected the complaints of incumbent fossil fuel generators and the conservative state governments – because the Coalition now has the numbers to dump the CCA. ...
In fact, there is no doubt that the biggest investment in renewable energy over the coming 18 months will come from households and business owners, who have been the biggest investors in recent years and will continue to install rooftop solar PV to generate their own electricity, and reduce their bills.
The wildcard here is the role of the state governments, particularly in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, which are hostile to renewable energy and also have assets – generators and network operators – that they want to sell. ...
The traditional parties are losing their centralized control of domestic politics, in much the same way as the primacy of the base-load generators is being challenged in the electricity market. The vote for the mainstream parties has fallen from around 80 per cent in 2010 to just less than 75 per cent in 2013, tracking a similar fall in the use of coal-fired generators. Is there a link? Probably not.
But it is fascinating to see the influence of minor parties in some states – the huge voted for the Palmer United Party in Queensland and Tasmania, for the Greens in Victoria, the Liberal Democrats in NSW, and for Xenophon in South Australia, where he outpolled Labor in the Senate and nearly pipped the Coalition.
Abbott had promised stable government, but the Senate could turn out to be a circus. Abbott may find the variability of views and positions in the Senate as difficult to deal with as some of his colleagues, and the incumbent generators, have in getting their minds and their systems around variable renewables.