- Is identity politics a problem for the left?
- The climate emergency and the awful state of Australian politics
- Liberty, freedom and civil rights? Do any of us understand these things anymore.
- Democracy and rights under threat in corporate police state
- Put the Nats last or lose your rights to protest
- The forest wars are back, time to mobilise
- Elections as far as the eye can see
- New Green shoots beginning to emerge
- Is Australia really this conservative?
- Individualism, is it just-a consolation prize?
- Three corrupt sectors that distort our economy
- Algorithms for Change – Politics in the Pub
- Now more than ever: non-violence and positive change
- Challenging times ahead, we need to build unity in diversity
- Hung parliament: An outbreak of democracy.
- The future of Capitalism, Democracy and Activism in Australia
- Political donations the essence of corruption
- For sale: your right to protest
- NSW addicted to old habits
- Senate voting reform causes a flurry
- Prohibition, it begins and ends with violating our rights
- Roadside drug tests a big fail
- Climate change, think globally respond regionally
- People power not pollies kept us gasfield free
- The perfect storm: Shenhua and the Liverpool Plains – Mick Daley
- Sovereignty at stake in TPP
- High Noon in the Nthn Rivers: Metgasco Vs Everybody Else
- Rapid Onset Fascism
- Metgasco vs the people
- When injustice becomes the law
- Activism and social movements, an eternal part of human evolution
- Gloucester Dreaming ~ guest post by Mick Daley
- …more commentary
- News & Events
- Bob Brown Is Taking “Shocking” Anti-Protest Laws To The High Court
- Anti protest laws could arrest nannas, seize tractors
- “They blinked first”
- Colin Barnett quick to protest against ‘activism degrees’ – The Australian, 16/10/2014
- ‘Degrees in activism’ put brake on growth – The Australian, 15/10/2014
- Magistrate throws out vexatious police case against CSG protesters
- Outrage over school PR ‘by stealth’- The Northern Star
- CSG clash a certainty
- Communities use new tactics
- Gas group attacks lecturer
- …more media
- Activist Resources
Australia is about to embark upon an important debate about our Senate voting system. In recent years we have seen a proliferation of micro parties engaging in murky preference strategies that make a lottery out of the Senate vote. I am all for diversity in politics but it’s a sad fact that sometimes unscrupulous operators spoil it for everyone.
Our Senate voting system is based on proportional representation which aims to provide representation in rough proportion to the votes a party receives. Add in preferential voting and you get a complex system in which the lowest scoring candidates are eliminated and their preferences distributed back up the line until 10 senators are elected. So far so good.
Unfortunately under the current system voters do not get to direct their preferences above the line like they do in the NSW Upper House, instead the parties themselves get to register a preference ticket that determines where their preferences go. Giving parties control over preferences has proven too much of a temptation for the unscrupulous. The darkest most secretive day of Australian politics happens as the deadline for registering party preference tickets approaches. Negotiations, double crossing and unholy alliances abound as the parties jostle for smart (or sleazy) preference deals.
A symptom of the current malaise is the proliferation of fly-by-night micro parties each election with noble or innocuous sounding names. Voting for a Senate party on the basis of its name alone is like blind dating on the internet. Some are genuine, others may be just a vote harvesting front. The genuine party’s preferences will reflect their stated values, but when you see the unholy alliances appearing between parties with nothing in common, you know someone must be trying to game it.
The federal parliament is looking at reforms to stop the gaming of the vote, but of course we need to be careful it doesn’t become a closed shop for the big parties either. Some sensible suggestions so far include above the line preferencing just like in the NSW Upper House, or setting a low primary vote threshold so parties at least need say 5% of the primary vote to be eligible to win a Senate seat. Hard choices… but it’s clearly bad for democracy to have micro parties gaming the vote, so we need to make the system more transparent. Voters, not parties should decide where their Senate preferences go.
This article was originally published in the Northern Rivers Echo on 21 May, 2015.