Friday, August 30, 2013

A week to go...

A week to go before the Coalition is voted in to be our next government. They'll win by default because people have turned against Labor, so it'll be an anti-Labor vote rather than a pro-Coalition vote.

All they have to do is to avoid too many gaffes and they've played the game well, avoiding answering questions and keeping their candidates well away from the media and voters. They've turned down invitations for candidates to appear on radio and television, except for the heavyweights - Abbott, Hockey, Julie Bishop. There've been cameo appearances by Christopher Pyne and Shadow Minister For Stopping The Boats Scott Morrison. The rest are nowhere to be seen or heard.

The Nationals have been completely invisible apart from Barnaby Joyce, the only person from the Nationals to put his head above the ramparts, and that's only been once or twice.

Both sides, or rather both leaders, have been announcing 'policy' on the run, promising billions of dollars for just about anything on the day they think will attract a few votes. It's all bullshit of course, it simply won't happen.

When the Coalition takes over there'll be the usual claim that now they have access to the real figures things are much worse than they thought, so thanks to the previous government they'll be unable to deliver on their pre-election promises.

None of them deserve our vote, but voting's compulsory.  And worse, our shonky electoral system will deliver our votes to people we didn't vote for.

For the lower house in my electorate we have nine candidates to vote for in order of preference. We have Labor, Liberal, Greens, (Clive) Palmer United Party, Fred Nile's Christian Democrats, Democratic Labour Party and three independents to number from one to nine.

Voting for the Senate is always a joke but this time it's even worse than usual. The ballot paper is over a metre wide with 44 parties or independents putting up 110 candidates. The Electoral Commission is providing magnifying sheets in the polling booths because so many candidates have had to be packed in that the type is too small for many people to read.

We have two ways to vote for the Senate. One is 'below the line', which means numbering each party in our order of preference, and  every single box must be numbered for the vote to count.

Realistically almost no-one will do that. Attempt to do it properly and you need to find out what the 44 parties stand for, which is just about impossible anyway. Then you have to spend more time deciding which candidate you like the best, which you dislike the most and where all the others come on your like and dislike list. 

So most voters will take the easier option of  'above the line' voting.

That means voting for a party or group by putting the number '1' in their box only, above the black line.  It's much easier but it means, as the AEC says, voters are allowing the order of their preference to be determined by the party or group they are voting for.

And of course that's where the shonky backroom deals have been done and our vote is given to someone we didn't vote for.

It means, for example, that we could get Pauline Hanson as a NSW senator thanks to the preferences deals she's done with other parties. She's high on the preference tickets issued by the Shooters & Fishers, the Liberal Democrats, Christian Democrats, Katter's Australia Party, the DLP and Rise Up Australia party.

The Newcastle Herald throws a bit of light on the murky world of preferences:

If  (Hanson) wins (only) 5 per cent of the vote this time, minor party preferences give her a serious chance of winning. She is one of several outsiders who have cornered the best of the preference deals...and stand a chance of vaulting into the Senate on the back of those preferences.

While a party requires 14.3 per cent of the vote after preferences to win a Senate seat, in 2004 Family First candidate Steve Fielding won a seat in Victoria with 1.9 per cent of the vote, but lots of preferences.

That could be matched this time by Ray Brown, who heads the Building Australia Party ticket. His party will get eight second or third preferences from other parties, and is in the top 10 on no fewer than 27 of the 42 preference tickets submitted.

Few voters will fill in the 110 boxes required to allocate their own preferences, so party tickets will decide almost all preferences from the state's 4.8 million voters.

Some of them show surprising preferences. The No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics will allocate preferences to the party which introduced the carbon tax (Labor) ahead of the one that plans to abolish it (the Coalition). The Shooters & Fishers and the DLP will also give preferences to Labor ahead of the Coalition.

Conversely, the Republican Party is directing its ultimate preferences to staunch monarchist Tony Abbott, while the Protectionist Party will give its preferences to the Liberals' Arthur Sinodinos, who is more of a free trader.

The system needs changing but only the government can do that and they'll only change it if it gives their party an advantage.



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