At the coming election, forty different parties are fielding 97 candidates in Victoria for the Senate. Twelve will be elected. Is it worth using preferential voting, or do you vote above the line and trust that the party you’ve chosen distributes preferences in the same way that you would? I discovered that changes in the “political landscape” have happened between now and when the preferences were allocated by my favoured party and aren’t to my liking any more.
But it’s not hard to make a mistake writing in the 97 numbers and rendering your vote informal, so the decision to use one method over another needs a bit of thought. Regardless, the mainstream media only seem to be interested in the Red Party and the Blue Party, so unless you’re voting for them you need to so some digging to find out who’s who. So I dug.
I went to: http://www.aec.gov.au/election/vic/wills.htm to get the Senate candidates for Victoria. Then I looked up each of the parties’ policies and distilled them into a couple of lines. I glossed over the four major parties. What I found appears at the end of this article.
This (occasionally tongue-in-cheek) analysis takes the candidate’s and parties’ policies at face value and discounts things like front parties and politicians’ remarkable ability to tell porkies for the sake of getting elected, but you have to start somewhere. For the parties whose policies interested me, I used this web page http://www.aec.gov.au/election/vic/gvt.htm and Microsoft Excel to work out which way their preferences flowed to winkle out a few front parties and to get a feel for how the parties that I liked were directing their preferences.
This gave me a rough idea of how I would like direct preferences in the Senate, but it’s still a monster task. Luckily there are websites that will let you create your own how-to-vote card.
Cluey Voter lets you rate each of the parties on a five-point scale and creates a first draft of the how-to-vote card which you can manually edit before printing. I wanted something a bit more precise.
I used a combination of Below the Line to set up a first draft by selecting the preferences of my preferred particular party and I transferred them by hand to senate.io, then I rearranged preferences by party, and printed a PDF of the how-to-vote card. I would have used senate.io for the whole job if I could have pre-loaded it, because it’s easier to rearrange than Below the Line and tells you when you have a formal vote.
I’ll still have to transfer the preferences onto my ballot paper at the polling place, but it will be much easier than trying to remember the position of 97 numbers.
But before you vote below the line, think of the people at the Australian Electoral Commission who are counting the vote. After my father voted below the line in early voting, he told a friend who works for the AEC. The AEC worker’s response: “You bastard!”
The parties nominating for the 2013 Senate election.
Animal Justice Party : Single issue party. Pro: vegetarianism, protection of Australian animals, being kind to animals Anti: International trade in animals, using animals for sport, exhibition and entertainment, animal research and experimentation
Australian Christians: Anti: Same-sex marriage, prostitution, Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, assisted suicide, abortion Pro: Stay-at-home mums, bible, religious schools, public transport, renewable energy, internet censorship
Australian Democrats: Still around. Broadly developed policies. Pro: social equality, multiculturalism, renewable energy, balanced industrial relations
Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party: Single issue party – Access to Australian fisheries for commercial and recreational fishing
Australian Independents: Lower taxes, budget surplus, high-speed rail, regional and rural rail, support small business, increase childcare, support the disables and carers, seniors, increased funding for health, housing affordability, less poverty and homelessness.
Australian Labor Party: The current government. You may be familiar with them.
Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party: Woolly statement of policies – Anti Green, preferenced “radical extremist parties” last, Greens next last behind , preferenced Labour and Liberal third last, split other parties after Labour/Liberal, before AMEP
Australian Republicans: Single issue party – Establishment of an Australian republic, with a bill of rights and a review of the system of government, secular-humanism, no emissions trading scheme, zero net migration
Australian Voice Party: Food security, Illegal immigrants, Small business, housing affordability
Bank Reform Party: Single issue party – Regulation of consumer banking interest rates
Building Australia Party: Sell the ABC, Reduce superannuation for politicians, protect the building industry, housing affordability
Bullet Train For Australia: Single issue party – Create a high speed train network for Australia
Citizens Electoral Council: Followers of Lyndon Larouche’s policies. Pro: Protectionism, nationalization of oil and gas, state infrastructure construction, creation of government owned banks. Anti: Privatisation, drug liberalization
Country Alliance: Policies for rural citizens. Pro: fishing, hunting, logging, water entitlements Anti: carbon tax, poker machines, public asset sales
DLP Democratic Labour: “To establish, under Almighty God, the political, legal, social and economic foundations for a just, free and democratic society and for a self-reliant and secure Australia.” Favoured by the Roman Catholic church
Drug Law Reform: Single-issue party – Decriminalization of illicit drugs, royal commission into illicit drugs
Family First: Anti: Same-sex marriage. Pro: families. Policies are largely motherhood statements.
Greens: That obstructionist mob in the Senate
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party: Single issue party – Re-legalize and regulate cannabis/hemp for personal, medical and industrial use
Katter’s Australian Party: Pro: Christian values, national economic self-sufficiency and sovereignty, Security of national food, mineral resources and land, home ownership, banking control Anti: same-sex marriage
Liberal: You know who they are
Liberal Democrats: President also the president of the Stop the Greens Party. Pro: assisted suicide, small government, balanced budget, legalized cannabis, free trade, gay marriage. Anti: foreign aid
Nationals: In bed with the Liberals
No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics: Single issue party – No carbon tax. ‘Climate science is far from “settled”‘. Ok, they believe science is a matter of opinion rather than fact.
One Nation: Pro: Assisted suicide, enhanced personal identification documents, industry protection, home ownership, citizens initiated referenda, limits on foreign investment Anti: Multiculturalism, refugee arriving on boats
Palmer United Party: Started by mining magnate Clive Palmer. Pro: Nationalism, mining, wealth distribution to the region that generates it. Anti: political lobbyists, carbon tax, boat arrivals
Pirate Party: Pro: Digital privacy, copyright and patent reform, renewable energy, gay marriage, drug liberalization, assisted suicide
Rise Up Australia Party: Evangelical Christian, socially conservative Anti: Homosexuality, abortion, multiculturalism
Secular Party of Australia: Pro: gay marriage, assisted suicide, a citizen’s bill of rights, intellectual property rights Anti: internet censorship
Senator Online: “SOL policies are not predetermined nor set”. Senators vote in line with votes received online.
Sex Party: Pro: drug decriminalisation, church taxation, abortion rights, assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, data privacy, uniform censorship, secular education, equal rights, paid parental leave
Shooters and Fishers: Single issue party – Rights to own and use firearms, rights for recreational fishing, 4WD access to state parks
Smokers Rights: Single issue party – Lower cigarette taxes, repeal bans on smoking in public places, abolish tobacco plain packaging
Socialist Equality Party: Jobs for all, guaranteed living wage, free health, free education, right to housing, nationalise banks and major corporations, clean and safe environment
Stable Population Party: Single issue party – Population of Australia to be 23-26 million through to 2050
Stop CSG: Single issue party- “Protect communities and farmland from invasive coal seam gas mining by pressuring government to ban CSG”
Stop The Greens: President also president of Liberal Democrats. Aka Outdoor recreation party. Pro: 4WD rights, fishing, shooting, hunting, forestry, motoring
Wikileaks Party: The free flow of information, reform of media policy, internet privacy and freedom, whistleblower protection, expose collusions between Australian state and military-industrial complex.
Group AJ – Independent, Bob Nicholls: Pro: Same sex marriage, abortion rights, assisted suicide, equal opportunity
Group T – Independent, Joseph Toscano: Medical practitioner, broadcaster and anarchist
Ungrouped – Darrel S Morrison: Independent centre left
Ungrouped – Lyn Gunter : Bushfire recovery