Unleash the Sanctimony! Practically everyone on all sides of mainstream politics is not pleased. For goodness sake, the car loving land of Australia has elected a car-loving Senator, and the sport-crazy nation will have a sports-mad Senator too. Is that so bad?
You’d think so. The not-quite-elected-yet souls have barely uttered a word in public, but apparently this is such a disaster we need to remake the Senate voting system. I was amazed at how media commentators were using the term “representative democracy” as if these new members were somehow not representative, and as if only first preferences count in a preferential voting system where some of us had to write in 110 preferences. How arrogant. Blame the voter.
A guy that rebuilds cars for a hobby is probably better connected to reality than a Monash graduate in Marx and Pashukanis.
Those with God-like insight say ignorant voters “accidentally” voted them in, assuming those people are too stupid to know how preferences work, and that those voters are not happy with the result. Commentators raved about the mere 0.22% of the vote that one new Senator got in first preferences, but they ignored the fact that as many as 12% of Australians voted for a minor or micro party in the House of Reps, and 23% did so in the Senate). Is it not possible that nearly a quarter of voters don’t feel the major parties are representing them that well? Do they not deserve Senate representation? And seven seats out of 40 is a very reasonable result given 23% of the vote. A lot of voters are not happy with what the major parties offer. (By the way, the Australian Sports Party outpolled the Democrats in WA, 966 to 872.)
UPDATE: Truthseeker has done Monte-Carlo modelling of senate results to date. Sports Party 68% chance. Motoring Party 100%. Palmer (Tas) 80%. Family First 88%.
I personally didn’t warm to the title: Motoring Enthusiasts Party, but I read their site last week, and it didn’t look so bad. I guess if you are a Liberal-Party fan, then this sort of talk below looks … well – like competition really.
“With the realisation that the rights and civil liberties of every-day Australians are being eroded at an ever increasing rate, the Party aims to bring focus back to the notion that the Government is there for the people; not, as it increasingly appears, the other way around.”
Minimal Government Interference
“We support the notion that society will be more respectful and dynamic if individuals and businesses assume personal responsibility of their lives and role in society; removing the need for government to waste time on the introduction of nanny-rules to protect ourselves from ourselves.”
A guy that rebuilds cars for a hobby is probably better connected to reality than a Monash graduate in Marx and Pashukanis. Honestly, once upon a time Parliament was full of people without doctorates in international politics, and somehow it worked.
The title of the Sports Party didn’t grab me either. But we could do a lot worse:
“.. we’re all about healthy living through sport, so we’re trying to promote grassroots and junior sorta sports to try to get as many people and young people as we can into sport. With obesity being a big issue in Australia, we feel that sport’s a good avenue to try and get people active and get a healthier society. ” 7:30 report
Scott Ludlum (Greens Senator) was a film-maker and graphic designer, and that was considered quite ok with the commentariat. Wayne Dropulich (Sports Party, likely Senator) is a civil engineer. Does that make him too dumb? (Who are we kidding?) Yet on the news tonight the engineer is being painted as a lucky ring-in that voters would not have chosen if they’d thought about it. Not trendy enough with his political views? (Watch Dropulich answer questions in this video.)
As for Family First, lets not forget that there was only one Senator who tried to investigate man-made climate change in office, calling on experts both for and against the theory to do his duty to serve the public, and that was Steve Fielding (an engineer, like Dropulich).
Another likely Senator is David Leyonhjelm, a former vet who runs an agribusiness, and a true libertarian. He’s been in politics for years, and has very defined position on policies (see many articles here too). He drew the lucky first position on the ballot, and it’s sour grapes and bad form to assume most Liberal voters don’t know the difference between a Liberal Democrat and a Liberal. Why shouldn’t he have legitimate appeal to voters? I looked before I voted. I liked what I saw.
How about some respect for citizens who wanted someone in Parliament that is more like them than a suited up lifelong-career political apparatchik?
Blame the media, not the voter
The hatchet job has begun. Ad homs are flying. Old YouTubes of non-election material have been dug out and placed on high rotation. Did you know Senators are not allowed to have been a larrakin in a camp-ground in their former life? A video of Ricky Muir throwing kangaroo droppings was everywhere tonight (which, despite what the ABC thinks, might be earning him more support — who knows, being an ABC target can be a badge of honor for voters who are sick of the Nanny State).
“…the truth is that micro parties and start ups don’t have a chance of getting mainstream attention or funds to run an election campaign, unless they happen to be a billionaire”
The mainstream media wouldn’t give the aspiring Senators five seconds of attention last week when voters were looking for information, but tonight, they get five minutes of prime time and are fast becoming household names. Meanwhile the media complain that the voters couldn’t know who they were voting for. Really? And whose fault is that?
In comparison, the ABC took longer than a day (more like a decade) to find some old taped antics of one Ms Julia Gillard (antics now being investigated by police).
Who else suspects that if the new micro-party senators had views more in line with the commentariat, the commentariat would be chortling and purring about the genius of our democracy and its preferential system?
While wealthy inner city journalists wail that the micro parties are gaming the system, the truth is that micro parties and start ups don’t have a chance of getting mainstream attention or funds to run an election campaign, unless they happen to be a billionaire. Is it so bad they cluster into groups of parties that preference each other? If the media paid micro parties more attention before an election and gave them half a chance, the best ones would rise to the top quickly. Instead the media blackout creates a system where disaffected citizens are willing to take a calculated punt.
It remains to be seen how these Senators perform (if they get elected, and that is not certain*), but let’s judge them by their performance and their popularity. People who call it a “lottery” ignore that voters may well have expected an outcome like this, and they may be quite happy about the result (unlike the voters of Lyne and New England in 2010).
The outrage is totally out of proportion. None of these micro parties will hold the balance of power by themselves, all of them will have to compete, and those two factors will limit the wheeling and dealing.
Shame on you all the Liberal commentators who want to keep out the competition. How unliberal.
More posts about Senator Steve Fielding:
- Finally, a politician doing what politicians should do
- The Wong-Fielding meeting on global warming
- Funded arrogance
- Scientists call for Royal Commission* into climate change science
*These current Senate results are not final and may change see Mattb #3 for example.