So, the election is tomorrow. You’ve done your reading. You’ve maybe even listened to a few Eurovision songs along the way. With luck, you have at least some idea who you are going to vote for.
There are two things I want to write about today.
The first is just to touch on how incredibly fortunate we are in our electoral system. I’ve been corresponding with a friend in the US recently, and she mentioned in passing that she was in Australia during an election a few years ago and she couldn’t believe how many places there were that you could vote. Airports! Hospitals! Mobile polling booths that go to aged care facilities and remote communities! Coming from a country where restricting access to the ballot box is an actual strategy for one of their major parties, it was a revelation.
I write about our Australian Electoral Commission at almost every election, because it is a national treasure and we are so lucky to have it. I think, though, that I’m going to just cheat this time and link you to my last post on the subject rather than writing a new one, because I just did a count and I’ve already written more than 140,000 words in this electoral cycle and I’ll be honest with you, I’m tired and I have a Eurovision party to bake for.
Also, there’s something else I really want to talk about in this post, and that’s about numbering all the boxes on your Senate Ballot, whether you opt for voting above or below the line.
I feel like Wills has entered a new era in the last few years.
We’ve been a safe Labor seat since forever (setting aside that little lapse with Phil Cleary), and have been entirely ignored by both major parties, but in the last couple of elections, the Green vote has been creeping up, and I must say, it has borne dividends. We got a new local member from the progressive side of Labor, we are suddenly being noticed in infrastructure planning, and in the last two weeks, I’ve been door-knocked by volunteers both for the Greens and for the Victorian Socialists. (The Greens volunteer seemed a little appalled by my interest in politics when we met at the tram stop and even more appalled when he knocked on a door that evening and yes, it was me again; the Socialist volunteer was absolutely lovely, and persuaded us to put up signage for Sue Bolton… and then nobody ever came back to us to deliver it, which is just such a classic Socialist Alliance way to behave – great ideas, no follow through. Though having said that, Sue has been an excellent local council member.)
On Tuesday night I even got a phone call from my local Labor member, Peter Khalil. He is certainly working hard for my vote – the phone call lasted nearly half an hour, and ranged from climate policy and getting refugees off Nauru and Manus Island, to the need to raise pensions and fix the NDIS, the restoration of penalty rates, and solidarity with workers. He had a lot of good answers, was hardly rude about the Greens at all (!), and was actively positive about Sue Bolton… admittedly, she is also not much of a threat to him, but it was clearly important that she is solidly working class and unionish, unlike those suspiciously middle-class and thus untrustworthy Greens. (I refrained from mentioning my own suspiciously middle-class background. I suspect he guessed about my Greens-voting habits nonetheless.).
I have frequently noted that almost every small party – even the otherwise loathesome ones! – has one policy worth reading about. Sometimes, you have to look really hard to find it, because it is buried in a sea of horror and revulsion, but that only makes it the more beautiful when you find it.
So this election, as a special treat, I thought it might be fun to make a collection of the policies that our smaller, weirder parties have come up with that stand out from the crowd. A Microparty Fantasy League, if you will. Now, it should be noted that there are some parties on this list who I wouldn’t trust to legislate their way out of a paper sack, and who definitely shouldn’t be put in charge of policy on anything resembling a regular basis. And it should also be noted that this in no way constitutes a complete policy platform. But I think you will agree that there are, in fact, some unexpectedly good ideas on this list.
If you are arriving at this blog in these final few days before the election, the odds are good that you won’t have time to read my extensive and Eurovision-embellished essays before you vote.
And that’s OK! Nobody has ever accused me of being concise, and I get that people do have lives that don’t revolve around researching every single political party out there (though I do think it is worthwhile to research a few. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t think our choice of government was important!).
Also, I won’t deny that my blog posts are *full* of opinions, and reflect my own personal priorities. They may not reflect yours.
So here, for your delectation, are a collection of other essays, blogs and Twitter threads that are designed to help you figure out who to vote for. Most of them (all of them?!) are significantly shorter than mine. Some of them have different priorities. All of them are, I think, useful to any reader who is still trying to figure out who some of these small parties are.
Once again, my final set of voting preferences still requires a bit of tweaking, but I have grouped the parties into eleven categories, to help figure out where to put people on the ballot. Why eleven categories? Because that way I can give my favourite parties ‘Douze points’ and award the gun-totin’ racists ‘Nul points’ in best Eurovision style. Also, it turns out that I do have eleven distinct categories, so there you go.
I’m not really ranking parties within categories – I mean, yes, based on how I feel about them right at this moment, I’ve put my preferred options at the top of each category, but I often make slight changes to my final rankings at the ballot box. And some of those parties are ones I don’t have the option to vote for anyway. Besides, I feel it’s good to preserve some minor level of mystique about my actual vote…
Finally, before you start reading this, allow me to draw to your attention the Senate Voting Card Creator website. This excellent website allows you to list your parties and then your candidates in your order of preference, and then generates a printer-friendly list, so that you can easily see which numbers will go into which box when you vote below the line, and don’t risk missing a number somewhere. I was very sad when Below the Line closed down, and am delighted to see that this website has now replaced it.
NB: I’ve noted the Group next to parties running in Victoria. For parties running only outside Victoria, I’ve noted where they are running.