Games people play

Close analysis of the Senate voting tickets is, as always, like lifting up a rock and gazing in revolted fascination at what slithers beneath. I have only examined the New South Wales tickets to this point, but this has been enough to make clear that two minor parties which clothe themselves in sanctimony have been playing the lowest political games imaginable. The first culprit is Family First, which has cut deals with the Liberty and Democracy Party (whose policies include “re-legalisation of recreational marijuana use by adults”) and Pauline Hanson’s new party (representing a strain of right-wing politics from which Family First has always been very keen to distance itself), both of which have been placed higher than Family First’s natural philosophical ally, Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

The other is the Climate Change Coalition, which has put the Fishing Party higher than everybody except the Democrats and What Women Want. One wonders how those taken in by the Climate Change Coalition brand name would feel if they knew they were voting against the extension of marine parks. There is a very real chance they will end up finding out the hard way – the Fishing Party has been tightly preferenced by a range of right-wing micro parties as well as Family First, which also has them ahead of the CDP. When all these votes are added together, it’s entirely possible that the Greens will be overtaken by the Fishing Party’s Garth Bridge. Throw a Coalition surplus into the mix, and the Fishing Party could very well win a seat that would otherwise have gone to the Greens. I hope Patrice Newell has a good time explaining that one to her fellow travellers on the arts-luvvie cocktail party circuit. And I say all that before I’ve even gotten around to considering the situation in Queensland, where the Climate Change Coalition has put Pauline Hanson ahead of Labor.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

83 comments on “Games people play”

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  1. I see we now have the Shooters Party, the Fishing Party and the Fishing and Lifestyle Party. Why don’t they merge into one party, People Who Like Killing Things?

  2. “Will extending marine parks reduce CO2 emissions ?”

    The ecosystems of the oceans are inextricably involved in climate change, The Speaker, as they interact constantly and in complex ways. When you deplete one group of species in the ocean, you change the biodiversity balance and this has a domino effect on other species throughout the ecosystem. This ultimately could include the ability of the ocean to act as a carbon sink.

    But that aside, take a look at the Fishing Party’s website at . There you’ll get a pretty good idea of where they stand on anthropogenic global warming.

    They don’t believe in it.

  3. Climate Change Coalition have gone to Democrats and Greens before anyone else in Queensland, so talking down their vote probably isn’t going to help efforts to stop a major party clean sweep in Queensland – although its rather unfortunate that they’ve then gone to Hanson after that.

    A bigger concerns is that Carers Alliance have gone to Hanson after the Greens in Queensland.

    And the LDP have put Hanson ahead of any other serious contender!

    And perhaps Follow the Preferences could explain the rationale for the Greens in Qld putting the pro-nuclear, pro-gun, pro-privatisation LDP ahead of the Democrats in Queensland? Talking down the Green vote is not going to help the Democrats in Qld or help stop a major party clean sweep either, but I’d love to know the principle behind that one.

    Let alone putting One Nation ahead of the Liberals anywhere! And whilst there is a case for putting Family First ahead of the Liberals, as appears has happened in some states, you really can’t then keep complaining about how horrifying it would be if FF win another seat.

  4. My understanding is that the Fishing & Lifestyle Party is a break-away from the Fishing Party. I had thought the former was meant to be more ‘moderate’ than the latter, although given the Fishing Party put me 61st out of 65 candidates on their Senate ticket, and the F&LP put me 65th out of 65 candidates on theirs – even numbering up the ticket just for my column so they could put me dead last – perhaps I should revise that view! Wonder what I did to upset them?

    It is strange that parties that are so keen on promoting the right to fish should so strenuously oppose moves to protect fish stocks and habitat, but I guess they wouldn’t be the only political party with very short-term vision.

  5. What I can’t get over is that the Greens have gone to the CDP ahead of the Libs in NSW. If the CDP does benefit from a good micro party harvest, and ends up ahead of the greens then they could end up winning the final seat on Greens preferences.

  6. Put the Liberals last – thats what I think Greens have started to think. And will a CDP’er be any worse than those icons of moderation Kevin Andrews & Philip Ruddock? I reckon the ALP could work with them – look how the ALP has cosied up to ol’ Fred in NSW. Maybe its even part of an strategy to break Coalition control of the Senate???

    Still, not as bad as those CCC people – too much flouride in the Macleans I think for poor old Patrice. Fancy preferencing Graham Campbell!

  7. What I can’t get over is that the Greens have gone to the CDP ahead of the Libs in NSW.

    Considering who’s running the NSW Libs at the moment, you could make an argument that the NSW Libs and the CDP aren’t that much different.

    This is the first election I’ve paid close attention to the group ticket preference allocations and it is all quite fascinating. It has also ensured I will never vote Above The Line again in the Senate. They really should do what NSW does in upper house state elections and have optional Above the Line party preferencing.

  8. Speaking personally, I can imagine arguments about why, in today’s environment, where the coalition has outright control, some progressives might prefer to elect a far-right micro-nutbar over a ‘respectable’ coalition senator. Knocking off a Nat probably destabilizes the coalition slightly over time as well.


  9. I can’t speak for the Greens obviously, and it doesn’t help the Democrats or the cause of a stronger Senate to drive the Green vote down, but the Liberal in the key 3rd spot on the NSW Senate ticket is Marise Payne – probably one of the few genuine liberals left in the Liberals in the Senate, and 100 000 miles more progressive than Fred Nile’s mob. It probably won’t matter, but as we’ve all learnt in the past, sometimes unexpected combinations can occur in a way where it does, and it’s a bit of a risk to take I would have thought.

  10. Payne might be a moderate but she’s a member of the Coalition – she’s still part of the Government and will be part of the Liberal Opposition after the election – and that means voting with them to block good legislation. So breaking their control can only be a good thing – even Fielding could be part of that! The real problem is that too many people are voting for the conservatives these days!!

  11. Stu, I really hope that neither the CDP or Payne get reelected, and that if the final spot doesn’t go to Lyn Shumack, then it goes to Kerry Nettle or even possibly a 4th ALP MP – but having moderates in the Liberal party lessens the damage the ultraconservatives can do – Petro Georgiou was able to significantly lessen the nastiness of the Coaliton’s mandatory detention policies. There is no way the country is better off having more Fielding and Fred Nile types in the senate over people like Marise Payne.

  12. Polly:

    Wow, you meet the strangest people on blogs! Thanks for your help in allowing me to regain access to during 2005-06.

    You’ll be glad to know I graduated early this year …

  13. Andrew, I would agree with you on Marise Payne if once, at least once, she had crossed the floor in the last term. Especially when only one government senator was needed to block legislation. If she’d crossed on workchoices or VSU or even on making sure that something, ANYTHING, had been sent to committee instead of being rammed through with no notice.

    You’re a Senator so obviously you’d know better than me. Did she ever do anything like any of that? If not, as I suspect, then as much as she might be a good person she’s nothing more than a proxy for Howard and Costello, and I really don’t care about saving her.

    Also, there’s a big difference between complaining about FF or the CDP being elected over a progressive candidate (as happened in Victoria and almost happened in Tasmania and NSW), it’s very different when the preferences delivered them a seat at the expense of the Liberals.

  14. Ashley (37 and 41),

    Can you imagine how big the ballot papers would be if every party’s preferences had to be listed on them? They should be on display in polling booths.

    There is no way that the ALP “sold out” in 2004. The ALP has no obligation to the Greens.

    Kelly (39),

    Parties do preference deals to advantage themselves. The ALP-FF deal in 2004 did not work because the ALP’s vote dropped too far. If it has not dropped, FF preferences would have elected Jacinta Collins and the Coalition would not have gained control of the Senate. The ALP-DLP deal in 2006 did work because it saved the ALP from being almost totally dependent on the Greens in the Upper House and it did not work against Labor winning governemnt.

    The ALP has dealt with the Greens this year because it believes that it is the best way to win government, not because it wants the Greens to have the balance of power in the Senate. Had Family First offered a better deal, it would have agreed to that for the same reason.

    Ben Raue (63),

    It is true to say that there’s a “difference between complaining about FF or the CDP being elected over” a candidate on your side compared with the preferences delivering it a seat “at the expense of the Liberals”, but the difference is not big. You see it as big because you apply the label “progressive” to your side and think that the ALP should do the same. The ALP does not see it that way because its aim is to win government, not assist any other party to get seats in the Senate or the Legislative Councils of the various states.

    There is even an argument to help the Coalition retain its Senate seats if the ALP cannot win them because that would lead to a double dissolution. However, even if the ALP preferenced the LNP in the Senate in return for LNP preferences in the House, the preferences would never be counted and thus be useless.

    The ALP has done the deal that it thinks helps it best. If it thought another deal on the table would have made it more likely to win government, it would have done that deal, irrespective of the consequences for the Senate.

  15. Ben – crossing the floor is very rare for Libs these days as you know (and never happens for ALP people of course), although Marise did play a key role in the internal Coalition revolt which stopped the legislation expanding the Pacific Solution from going through. She didn’t cross the floor because the legilation was pulled so it never came to a vote, but it was clear she (along with a couple of others) were refusing to commit to supporting it. She also was supportive on the reproductive rights issues (which have sometimes allowed more individual freedom) such as RU486 and truth in advertsing for pregnancy counselling.

    Less hard to measure, but important none the less is the role she has played in Senate Committees, especially when she was Chair of the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee. This was the Committee that played a key role in spiking the Pacific Solution Bill, and also helped play a role in occasional improvements on some of the draconian laws coming out of Philip Ruddock’s/Attorney-General’s office – nowhere as much as I would like of course, but none the less not to be dismissed.

    I’m not wanting to suggest she’s the bees knees, and it is often infuriating to see her and a few other Libs (and usually Barnaby too who despite all his talk rarely actually crossed the floor to even ensure decent process) support laws and processes which I am sure they knew were not good. (Mind you, I see some Labor people do the same often enough.) However, it should be a factor to take into consideration in preferencing – the more liberals in the Liberals, the better. Perhaps especially in NSW, where organisationally they seem to have been taken over by some seriously extreme people.

    However, I’m not seeking to ferocioulsy slag off at the decision – but I do think its worthy of noting. (even more so putting Pauline’s party and One Nation ahead of the Libs, but maybe that’s my Qld bias coming in)

  16. Polly & Andrew: so Petro & Marise took the edge off mandatory sentencing? That’s why we still have people on Nauru, Andrews deporting people when he feels like it (and who gives a rats if they’re gonna die when they get where ever they’re sent), and this idiotic excision of territory and islands? They didn’t stop VSU, sale of Telstra, Work-no-choices or anything else of Howards goodies now did they? Give em nothing I say.

  17. Chris, the ALP’s organisational and political leadership may not see it that way, but plenty of its members and a lot of its voters would see it that way.

    And Andrew, I’d also not want to demonise Marise Payne either, it’s really not a central issue.

  18. I actually like Marise Payne a lot (met her in person once, quite impressed), but unfortunately, she hasn’t seemingly done much to advance causes I think are important. I do agree that she may have some moderating influence on a bit of Coalition policy, but it’s not enough. I think as a purely tactical thing, she will be dead last on my Senate ballot paper.

  19. stu, I’ve already said that I hope that either the Dems, the Greens or even a 4th ALP senator get in ahead of Marise Payne (and if I lived in NSW, I’d be putting her very low on my ballot paper)- but she is clearly far more progressive than Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party.

  20. With the high Labor primary vote and their preferences going to the Greens I don’t think it’s really going to matter. I noticed though that the Carer’s Alliance is pretty high up on a lot of the tickets. Being a carer myself that’s some good news but I don’t think they’ll survive long enough for any of these preferences to matter. This post inspired me to make a post on my blog about the deals.

  21. Andrew 53, I can only imagine that the Greens did a deal with the LDP. You seem a bit touchy about 2004, rightly so, just run the rationale again, Umm Family First, they are,
    1) Progressive?
    2) Active on Global Warming?
    3) Pro equal rights?
    4) Identify various ‘family units’?
    5 Non of the above?

  22. The CCC strategy in Victoria is rather intriguing, too.

    Here they play an “across the ticket” strategy that gives their next (ie 3rd) pref to Lyn Allison (Dem), then Jacinta Collins (ALP), then Richard D Natale of the Greens, then Gary Plumridge of Family First, and then Fifield of the Libs , and so on, right along to pref 13 for the Carers Alliance, which then flows DOWN the CA group, before returning to Greg Chipp ( the Dems second candidate) and then Labor’s Gavin Marshall.

    On this second go round they put FF in front of the Greens second candidate, though. Other similar anomalies occur on the second run through.

    It makes for a very complex sequence, it seems to me. Not sure what the final implications are though. Can anyone sort the wheat from the chaff on their approach down here?

  23. Follw the Preferences, I’m not touchy at all about 2004 – I’ve discussed it repeatedly on many websites, including this one.

    It is precisely because of the repeated denunciations of others who don’t follow principled purity on preferences that I’m interested in your view as to how preferencing the pro-nuclear, pro-gun LDP is justified.

    If you say that its just that they “did a deal”, that’s fine – it’s a perfectly justifiable strategy. The Democrats in Queensland could have done exactly the same deal but chose not to. Doing a deal is what the ALP did with Family First in 2004 and with the Greens in 2007, and what Climate Change Coalition are doing with a range of people in 2007. But one can hardly credibly criticise them (or others) for doing that, if you’re doing the same.

    What’s your principled rationale for preferencing LDP ahead of the Democrats?

    Rod, the CCC preferences in Victoria will flow to Democrat then Greens (Jacinta Collins will already be elected), so I don’t think that’s too bad for the Greens.

  24. ‘Follow the Preferences’ seems stuck in the past. Preference mistakes were made by both the ALP and the Dems in the 2004 election. Those mistakes have been learnt from and are not being repeated this election.

    The preferences being allocated in this election are surely what is important now.

    It seems to me that the Democrats preferences seem very reasonable and principled at this election.

  25. I agree that generally there aren’t the glaring unusual preferences that we saw in 2004 and it’s not likely to be as important this time. Where did the Greens preference LDP above Dems? I’ve only been following NSW where they put Dems way above LDP.

    I’ve noticed all sorts of weird minor cases where Greens, Dems, CCC, Labor have all put parties out of the order of their principles, but I’ve also noticed that these are generally out of place. I think you’d find in a majority of states (without looking myself) that the Greens put Dems ahead of LDP.

  26. Ben (67),

    I agree with you that members of the ALP did not see the 2004 or the 2006 preference decision in the same way as I did. I’ve had to explain it to a few of them.

    Alastair (74),

    Just for the record, the ALP did not make a preference mistake in 2004. The fact that the ALP’s preferences are allocated differently this time is not because the ALP has learnt from last time, but because the ALP has a better deal from the Greens this time. I have given my reasons already. I repeat the point just to hinder the “mistake” becoming part of accepted “wisdom” in the way that “the rivers of gold” from the GST have.

  27. I suppose we could say that some decisions made by the ALP last time around were born out of desperation to some extent and leave it to that.

    The fact that FFP has preferenced LDP and ONP gives us useful fodder with which to bait their candidates at election forums.

    Has anyone got an answer to my query about John Harvey @44?

  28. 1. The Democrats are preferencing the LDP ahead of the greens in the Senate in NSW.

    2. I’d rather a hung Senate (even if a right winger shared in the balance of power) than the Coalition having outright control of the Senate. At least there would be the occasional win rather than no wins for the more progressive side of politics. Thats why Labor and the Greens, (low down on their group voting tickets well after directing preferences to each other and the Democrats) have preferenced Family First and CDP ahead of the Liberal party.

    3. We all know about Dems preferences helping to elect a Family First Senator in VIC instead of a Green in 2004, but it was the Dems split ticketing madness that elected a current Lib Senator in 2001 for a six year term instead of a Labor Senator. From the group voting tickets I looked at this morning, its pleasing to see that the split ticketing has been dropped in some states by the Dems, but not yet in the ACT.

    4. The biggest preference sell-out I’ve sighted so far is the Climate Change Coaliton in the Senate in WA. They have preferenced CDP, One Nation, Greame Campbell (formerly from Australia First), the DLP, Family First and Non-custodial Parents Party all ahead of the Greens who have much stronger policies on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and also ahead of Labor.

  29. The Australian Labor Party preferencing Family First above progressive Parties at the 2004 election WAS a mistake.

    it left open the possibility of shit happening….and shit happened.

    i am extremely pleased to see that Labor have shunned the religious Conservatives this election….for whatever reasons.

    If Labor and the progressives aren’t good enough to get a majority of the Australian public’s vote, then they need to improve themselves….not start doing deals with outfits like FF.

  30. The fact that FFP has preferenced LDP and ONP gives us useful fodder with which to bait their candidates at election forums.

    The SA Greens preferenced One Nation – Good luck with that.

  31. Speaker as you know, every party is obliged to preference every party in the Senate – it is the order that is important.

    To write “The SA Greens preferenced One Nation – Good luck with that.” gives people a false impression. In the Senate in South Aust The Greens preferenced Climate Change Coalition, Democrats, Xenophon, Labor and about a dozen other parties before putting One Nation near the bottom of the list. One Nation are in front of only two other groups both of which are on the far right of the political spectrum.

  32. Ben at 75 – Greens put LDP ahead of Dems in Qld (pardon me if I’m focusing predominantly on that state – I’m sure you understand my interest, plus I have more capacity to explain).

    And as I indicated, its not a major drama, I might say – slightly disappointing, but not in my interests, let alone plenty of other peoples’, to make a big song and dance about it. I’m just highlighting it to demonstrate a point in response to some other assertions that are often made.

    Personally, I hate all the Group Ticket Vote crap. I am now well and truly converted to OPV in the Senate and wish we had the ability to preference above the line.

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