One of the more enjoyable parts of election day for me is filling in my Upper House ballot paper. For those unfamiliar with the way Australia’s electoral system works, in the Lower House you vote for the one person who will be representing your area – which is usually several suburbs wide – and this is done simply by preferential voting; in the Upper House, you are voting for the five people who will represent the entire state you live in, which is much more complicated and is done by proportional representation (which I am not going to explain this time, unless someone really wants to know). The Upper House is therefore the place you are most likely to find representatives of smaller parties such as the Greens, the Democrats, or, heaven help us, Family First or One Nation, which means you get to decide exactly which nasty, mean-spirited little party deserves to be ranked dead last, and which tiny little party that you know perfectly well doesn’t have a hope in hell but you love anyway gets to go first..
The Upper House, or Senate, ballot paper tends to have a very large number of candidates – I think we have 60 in Victoria this year, and we sometimes have a hundred or more – and a fair number of political parties, too, most of which we have never heard of in our lives (which is where this series of posts comes in, but more of this later). Because most people sadly do not rejoice in numbering their entire ballot paper from 1-60, you can choose just to vote your party’s ticket, by selecting your preferred party’s box above the line. Your preferences then go wherever your party of choice decides to direct them, which is how Victoria got a Family First Senator in 2004, thank you so much The Australian Labor Party.
Anyway, since I do not, in fact, vote below the line solely to annoy the people counting the votes, I feel it behoves me to actually find out exactly what each party stands for, so that I can exercise my democratic rights in a well-educated, if slightly over-obsessive, fashion. To this end, I will be visiting the websites of as many different parties as have them over the next few weeks, reading their policies and their Senate Group Voting Tickets (often a very good way to find out what a party really stands for), and reporting back here. But, since one has to start somewhere, I am going to analyse the parties in donkey vote order, going from left to right on the Victorian Senate Form. Which means today we start with…
The Socialist Equality Party