Typical bleedin’ politicians

So, someone with a little life and vim to them (and, to be fair, slightly barking) manages to get elected as a politician in Oz. All the other politicians call for a change in the rules:

The result has led to calls to change the electoral rules, which allow parties to win the seats with as little as 0.2 per cent of the vote – or 1,908 votes – in the case of the Australian Sports Party. Another small party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, is likely to win with just 0.5 per cent of the vote.

Parties running for the 76-member state-based Senate can “harvest” their votes and do numerous deals with other parties to swap unused votes. The complex system has even led to the emergence of a consultant, Glenn Druery, a skilled mathematician and political operative, who works for small parties to cobble together backroom vote swap deals.

Critics say the registration fees should be increased to stop small parties from running or that parties should only be allowed to swap votes with a limited number of other parties.

The point about democracy is that if you manage to get elected you are by definition suitable to be elected. It’s not a privilege that should be reserved for the right sort of people.

12 comments on “Typical bleedin’ politicians

  1. It’s going to be a three ring circus when this lot takes their seats. Clive Palmer, despite looking like winning, is already gathering legal ammunition for challenging his result. Wags are suggesting he never actually wanted to win and will demand a recount if he comes out ahead. He’s also threatening to block supply in the Senate until he gets his way, which will be challenging as his Senators don’t take their seats until July.

    The representative of the Bogan Party is keeping a very low profile – the first comment on his facebook page after he announced his candidacy was “wtf u a politician now??” At least it will help out the local car industry, as he takes his first Senatorial pay packet ($190k p.a.) down to the local Repco for some sick rims for his VL Commy.

  2. Not sure i agree. Of course you have to accept the duly elected individual. But that doesn’t mean you leave the rules unchanged forever. Take sports – over time players learn to game the system, leading to dodgy results, or just dull games. So you chsnge the rules. See back pass, or the fact that scrums are now a nonsense.

  3. Stopping people standing, no. But changing the system from transferrable vote to something else isn’t necessarily undemocratic.

  4. Let me guess – the threshold will still be low enough for greens or other assorted far left wing nuts to be elected though.

  5. JamesV,

    Yes, very much so. Tim’s right about the registration fees, but dead wrong about the vote-swapping, which is a corruption of democracy that needs to be stamped out. A shame, though, that the people calling for it to be restricted never thought of this as long as they were benefitting from it. It’s almost as if they don’t have any actual principles or something.

  6. James: The vote trading happens before the election, because parties register a default flow of preferences. If voters fill out their preferences manually it’s ignored but if they just tick the “vote for party X” box then their preferences are distributed according to the party’s wishes.

    This was fine when there was only a few parties but there were 110 in NSW this time round so “below the line” voting was understandably rare.

  7. They should just scrap above the line voting and permit below the line votes with a non-full set of preferences.

  8. I’d be happy enough with them eliminating voting above the line and allowing you to number only as many parties as you wish (like OPV in Queensland elections).

    The idea of limiting the number of parties is very self-serving of the majors. Obviously the recent proliferation of parties is due to people not being satisfied with Lab/Lib/Nats.

  9. Found out today that Tony Abbott has a double degree in law and economics. Finally the adults have the keys to the treasury again.

  10. @ Matthew L
    Kevin Rudd has a degree, too. But Tony Abbott’s is a lot superior – he was a Rhodes Scholar – so Labor’s pretence that Rudd is an intellectual and Abbott is stupid is totally ridiculous. Apparently it backfired on them when some news programme asked them to cook and Rudd prepared “high tea” (a very upper-middle-class meal, that made him look estranged from 99% of Australians) and Abbott (an Oxford Blue, whom Labor expected to look out-of-place) cooked steaks on a Barbeque for his family

  11. I’d keep above the line voting, but I would get rid of the system in which an above the line vote is allocated preferences lodged by the party and negotiated in back rooms with other parties. Instead, I would require voters to number the squares above the line in order. Thus you would have a choice of numbering the parties above the line, or numbering the candidates below the line. What you would no longer have is a situation where the party allocates your preferences for you.

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