So, we all have our opinions about Liberal and Labor, more or less. Most of us are even vaguely aware of the Greens, Family First and One Nation. And who could possibly forget the existence of the Sex Party?
Hooray for us! That’s six whole parties we’ve heard of… but what about the other 33 charming little bagatelles currently decorating the Victorian Senate Ballot Paper? What of HEMP and Rise Up Australia? What of the Secular Party and Smokers’ Rights? And are the Democratic Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats offshoots of Labor, Liberal, the Democrats, or some other beast entirely?
For those of us who like to vote below the line, these are important questions which could keep us busy for far too much of the lead-up to the election.
Or perhaps I’m just taking this whole thing way too seriously…
Either way, over the next few weeks, I intend to work my way down the Senate ticket, group by group, visiting their websites, reading their policies, checking out their preferencing, and reporting back on what I find. My reports will be as partisan as all hell as far as commentary goes, because I’m a Bleeding Heart Greenie Feminist Lefty Pinko with no economic sense, and I’m not ashamed of that. They will, however, be as factually accurate as I can make them.
I will be working from the assumption that policies and mission statements posted on official party websites are a fair representation of what that party stands for – or at least, what that party wants voters to believe they stand for. In other words, I will not attempt to predict future behaviour based on what any elected representatives or random party members have done in the past, but I will feel entirely free to provide commentary on any subtext I believe is implicit in these statements.
My reasoning for this is simple: there are a lot of political parties out there, I have limited time, and I am not a political commentator. But I do have the ability to read documents and make some deductions about the person writing them – what he or she is trying to convey, and perhaps what this implies about his or her values. And of course, a look at where preferences are going can tell you an awful lot about a party’s true colours.
But enough of this introductory babble! It’s time to meet some of our small parties…