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MINOR PARTIES, MAJOR MOVERS? August 30, 2013

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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In this Federal Election, the key vote, as always will be in the Senate to determine which political philosophy and world view has the balance of power.

It is highly likely that a minor party, or parties, will have political leverage in the Senate. The problem is the Senate ballot paper. The debates organized by Sky Television focused on Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. They might have been better, and more informative if minor parties were involved.

The issue about the minor parties is who, and what political ideology will hold the balance of power in the Senate. As it happens, and as might be expected the Greens have a You Tube Video, which brings into focus the how the deals have been worked to win the sixth spot in each State.

Anthony Green gives advice on voting below the line, keeping in mind that there are 110 candidates on the Senate ballot in NSW. He says:

My advice is to list the parties in the order you would like to see them elected. It is the only sensible way to vote unless you have perfect knowledge of the order parties will finish.

Another piece of advice, don’t split a party’s ticket. Vote for all candidates of a party with consecutive numbers in whatever order you like, but don’t split preferences between tickets unless you really know what you are doing. Splitting preferences between parties can have consequences you can’t predict without perfect knowledge of the order candidates will finish.

The instructions say you must fill in every square, but the savings provision of the act require that only 90% of the squares be filled in, and will allow a maximum of three sequencing errors. A sequencing error is any doubling up of numbers and any break in the number sequence.

If you want to be ultra safe, fill in below the line and the fill in one of the above the line squares. The below the line vote takes priority, but if proves to be informal, the ballot paper will revert to the above the line option.

My advice is fill in every square and don’t muck around working out what 90% of the squares is, and try not to break your sequence. Vote a formal vote rather than try and get fiddly with the meaning of formality.

Anthony Green, without reservations about the secret ballot provisions of the electoral process that may be infringed by using the internet indicates some sites. He refers to Below the Line and Cluey Voter. Wikipedia lists all the candidates in the election. The AEC lists candidates their preferences, for example regarding NSW. Information load in buckets.

For me the hot button issues are climate change, refugee and asylum seeker policy and digital security and privacy. Most voters rate economic policy as the most important issue.

The Coalition are choosing to release the full details of their policy proposals in the last week, presumably in the belief in that way it will have a minimal effect on voting intentions. That well might be good tactics but it is not good democracy not consistent with the provision for public accountability. I found it difficult to get the detail and content of the proposed Coalition policies. For example, Richard Kingsford in The Sydney Morning Herald observed:

There is a yawning gap between scientific understanding of our environment and public policy, and it is not just confined to climate change, where long-term benefits of effective policy are a casualty to debate about short-term costs.

Part of the problem may be the relatively poor representation of science in the halls of power.

I examined the background of all 820 or so politicians in our federal, state and territory governments, and of those with a degree – just over half of them – nearly 80 per cent have an arts, economics or law degree. Only about 5 per cent of all politicians have a science degree.

This pattern was reflected in cabinet and shadow cabinets – only one environment minister possesses a science degree.

Environmental issues are increasingly complex, requiring understanding of the long-term trade-offs between development and environmental sustainability. Even experienced conservation scientists find these problems challenging. How well do the backgrounds of our politicians equip them to decide the future of our environment?

Scientists, as well, have a responsibility to get more involved in influencing decision-makers.

Greg Hunt addressed The Sydney Institute on  30 May 2013.

The Climate Institute expects that under this plan carbon emissions will rise by 9%. Greg Hunt said the modelling was unprofessional. The findings were based on wrong assumptionsand don’t relate to the Coalitions policy according to Greg Hunt. Both major parties, particularly the Coalition led by Tony Abbott are not taking the question of Climate Change and implications seriously enough.

The issues that I highlight relate to Global Society.

We might with hindsight review the Green Election Launch, which was criticized elsewhere as amateur.  However, I would suggest content is what matters:

The text of the speech. By contrast consider Tony Abbott’s speech launching the Coalition campaign.

Steve Kates at Catallaxy observes:

The tensions of government are never ending but the need to find one’s way in the midst of the flood of events every political leader is certain to find before them requires a sound philosophical hold and a clear inner vision. This Tony Abbott most certainly seems to have.

He quotes Tony Abbott’s response to a question from Andrew Bolt in which he declares:

Lower taxes, smaller government, greater freedom – that’s the classic Liberal position. And then of course there’s the classic conservative position – respect for the family, respect for institutions and values that have stood the test of time, and the Coalition that I have the honour to lead is the Australian custodian of both the liberal and the conservative traditions. And I guess in our culture – our English-speaking tradition – what you’ve seen is a happy marriage between liberalism and conservatism. I think it was Tennyson who summed it up, Andrew, when he talked of ‘a land of just and old renown, a land of settled government, where freedom broadened slowly down from precedent to precedent.’ I think that nicely captures the paradox of freedom and order

I doubt whether this quite sums up the ethos of the National Party, who after all are a partner in the Coalition. Perhaps this just another example of the marginalization of a minor party, which has an independent existence in most States.

Then there is Wikileaks. They have summarized  some policies. I am surprised they have so much to say about refugees. And lets not forget about The Pirate Party.

In reviewing the party policies at Australia Votes, the ABC includes the Greens with the ALP and the Coalition.

 

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