They make em' different in Australia: Parlimentarianism and anarchy

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@ndy's picture
@ndy
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Apr 26 2012 04:56

Oh hai.

There's differences and similarities. Basically, I think that the idea that by voting an individual thereby endorses a system of political representation is mistaken, in a manner similar to that in which by engaging in consumption an individual therefore endorses commodity production ('How can you be against capitalism if you wear Brand X shoes?'). Of course, choosing not to vote or spoiling a ballot or whatevs doesn't have the same consequences as non-consumption does, but my point is that the argument has a similar logical structure. Whether or not voting is a good or useful thing is another question, and I think the arguments regarding it are pretty straight-forward and fairly well-known. Of course, it's possible to elevate (the right to/not) vote, abstain or 'spoil' a ballot to a matter of political principle -- as Langer did -- which is fine, but y'know...

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Apr 27 2012 01:41
Peter wrote:
Yes you have to put a number next to all candidates thusly 1,2,3...X.

1,2,2,2... used to be a valid vote. However old Maoist Albert Langer found out in the 96 election that although it was valid advocating it lands you in jail. Afterwards the law was changed so this was no longer a valid vote. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Langer

I knew about the preferential vote system, but I didn't know you were forced to effectively vote for all of them. There's no voting option just to vote for one party? That seems even more undemocratic than the usual system, even though I've heard from Aussies that it's more democratic.

I found this interesting - from Wiki:

Quote:
Under this system, voters number the candidates on the ballot paper in the order of their preference. The preferential system was introduced in 1918, in response to the rise of the Country Party, a party representing small farmers. The Country Party split the anti-Labor vote in conservative country areas, allowing Labor candidates to win on a minority vote. The conservative government of Billy Hughes introduced preferential voting as a means of allowing competition between the two conservative parties without putting seats at risk. It was first used at the Corangamite by-election on 14 December 1918.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_system_of_Australia#Preferential_voting

A brief look at the Country Party seems to suggest they are Conservative in nature, so basically, what the preferential vote did was increase the chances of right-wingers getting into to office even more. Would this be a correct assumption?

For the record, I'll be in Oz for a year, so I'm trying to brush up on the local political system in the event of any potential arguments. wink

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Apr 27 2012 08:40

The Country Party became the National Party some yrs ago. It's in a formal Coalition w the Liberals on a national and state level and in QLD recently amalgamated w the Liberals to form the one party, the Liberal National Party or LNP (currently in office).

Whatever its origins, I'm not sure if preferential voting is advantageous to one side or the other; compulsory voting, otoh, is usually seen as such for Labor, as non-compulsory voting systems tend to mean that those on the lower-end of the socio-economic scale don't vote, and poorer constituencies (in Australia) tend to favour Labor. As I understand it, the main political impact of preferential voting is it allows for the major parties -- through the exchange of preferences -- to freeze out minor party challengers if they so choose. Otoh, where the major parties -- ie, Labor and the Coalition -- are at odds with one another, minor party candidates can sometimes squeeze through. Thus the first Green MP in the Federal House of Reps (former student Marxist Adam Bandt) was elected in Melbourne at the last Fed election partly 'cause the Liberals chose to direct their preferences to him rather than to Labor.

Tasmania has its own electoral system, one which tends to favour minor parties (in this case the Greens).

alb
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Apr 27 2012 13:24

It is interesting that the first Court decision on compulsory voting that made case law was the rejection of this argument:

Quote:
In Judd v McKeon (1926) 38 clr 380, Mr Judd provided the following reason for not voting at a senate election:
"All the political parties and their candidates participating in the election support and do all in their power to perpetuate capitalism with its exploitation of the working class, unemployment, prostitution, etc. The Socialist Labour Party, of which I am a member, stands for the ending of capitalism and the inauguration of socialism – and, consequently, its members are prohibited from voting for the aforementioned supporters of capitalism.(...) "
In the High court it was decided that this was not a valid and sufficient reason.
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@ndy
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Apr 27 2012 18:44

I don't understand. A rejection of which argument?

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Apr 28 2012 00:37

I think Alb means (correct me if I'm wrong!) the argument between Judd and McKeon that he quoted. The Socialists obviously didn't want to be forced to vote for one of the other parties, as they thought they did not represent their anti-capitalist views, in fact that the other parties would do, "all in their power to perpetuate capitalism". The judge said that's not a good enough answer and ruled in favor of compulsory voting.

riot_dude
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Apr 28 2012 04:29
alb wrote:
It is interesting that the first Court decision on compulsory voting that made case law was the rejection of this argument:
Quote:
In Judd v McKeon (1926) 38 clr 380, Mr Judd provided the following reason for not voting at a senate election:
"All the political parties and their candidates participating in the election support and do all in their power to perpetuate capitalism with its exploitation of the working class, unemployment, prostitution, etc. The Socialist Labour Party, of which I am a member, stands for the ending of capitalism and the inauguration of socialism – and, consequently, its members are prohibited from voting for the aforementioned supporters of capitalism.(...) "
In the High court it was decided that this was not a valid and sufficient reason.

I think that kind of proves @ndy's point, that those who otherwise wouldn't turn up to vote must do so under a compulsory voting system. As those who would tend not to turn up to vote tend to be "those on the lower-end of the socio-economic scale...and poorer constituencies (in Australia) tend to favour Labor."

Standfield wrote:
I knew about the preferential vote system, but I didn't know you were forced to effectively vote for all of them. There's no voting option just to vote for one party? That seems even more undemocratic than the usual system, even though I've heard from Aussies that it's more democratic.
...
A brief look at the Country Party seems to suggest they are Conservative in nature, so basically, what the preferential vote did was increase the chances of right-wingers getting into to office even more. Would this be a correct assumption?

As @ndy notes, preferential voting isn't so much to favour right-wingers, but rather to favour the major parties (either Labor or the coalition) as a means of ensuring either of these major parties wins seats in marginal electorates so as to be able to form Government.

I don't know whether it is more or less undemocratic than 'the usual system', probably about the same. One thing it avoids is the argument that, say, the Greens running in marginal US electorates 'splits the Democratic vote', thus 'voting for the Greens ensures that the Republicans will get in'.

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Apr 28 2012 05:09

Yeah sorry, I should of phrased that better. I didn't necessarily mean right-wingers have a better chance of getting in now, I just meant in that particular instance when the preferential voting system came in, the right-wing back then profited from it.

I'm not sure I understood your last paragraph though. Are you saying that all this system does is give the assumption to the populace that it's fairer? I can understand this, as during the last UK election, I was hearing from my Australian friends in London that the "coalition debacle" wouldn't of come about if the UK had preferential voting in place, as it's a much "fairer" system. Comparing the UK Government to the Australian one I couldn't see how it actually resulted in a "better Government", but I found it difficult arguing that it didn't actually matter either way.

And what I meant by "the usual system" was the UK one, I shouldn't have been so presumptuous! Just for the record, I don't support either. wink

riot_dude
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Apr 28 2012 06:24
Standfield wrote:
And what I meant by "the usual system" was the UK one, I shouldn't have been so presumptuous! Just for the record, I don't support either. ;)

Yeah, I wasn't assuming you, or anyone else, did.

Standfield wrote:
I'm not sure I understood your last paragraph though. Are you saying that all this system does is give the assumption to the populace that it's fairer? I can understand this, as during the last UK election, I was hearing from my Australian friends in London that the "coalition debacle" wouldn't of come about if the UK had preferential voting in place, as it's a much "fairer" system. Comparing the UK Government to the Australian one I couldn't see how it actually resulted in a "better Government", but I found it difficult arguing that it didn't actually matter either way.

I'd argue it doesn't matter either way as whichever of the major parties here happens to form Government makes fuck all difference to my everyday life.

I barely following electoral politics here, let alone overseas, so I can't really comment on the "coalition debacle", however, maybe I'll make up an example of preferential voting here.
Say in an election first preferences were as follows:
Liberal: 35,000
Labor: 30,000
Greens: 20,000
In such a case the Labor candidate would likely win as they would probably get 99% of Greens preferences. So it could be 'unfair' for the Liberal candidate as they got the most votes, or 'fair' as more ppl preferred Labor. So the 'fairness' of the system is likely determined by whom one supports.

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Apr 28 2012 07:49

Cool, thanks for your patience, I understand now. I'm just keen to know the basics in the country I'm going to be spending the next year in, cheers.

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Apr 28 2012 10:56
Standfield wrote:

And what I meant by "the usual system" was the UK one, I shouldn't have been so presumptuous! Just for the record, I don't support either. ;)

The UK system for general elections is first past the post and not much countries use it aside from us. Most countries have at least moved to Alternative Vote if not some form of Proportional Representation.

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Apr 28 2012 11:23

Yeah, that's why I corrected myself on that one, just a slack error on my part.

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Bewildered. Des...
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Apr 29 2012 04:20

Did anyone here point out that preferential voting here in Oz is an option ? You can vote for one party by putting "1" in their box, or you can vote by preference by numbering them in your order of preference. Either way it's an illusion of choice.

That's why at the last election I drew a big cock and balls on my ballot paper.

smile

bastarx
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Apr 29 2012 05:21
Bewildered. Desperate. wrote:
Did anyone here point out that preferential voting here in Oz is an option ? You can vote for one party by putting "1" in their box, or you can vote by preference by numbering them in your order of preference. Either way it's an illusion of choice.

Only in the Senate, where it's called an above the line vote and the preferences are distributed in such cases by however the party voted for desires.

In the house or representatives all candidates must be numbered for it to be a valid vote:
http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_Vote/Voting_HOR.htm

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Apr 29 2012 05:47

Duly noted Peter, cheers.

I'll stick with the cock and balls though.

ShaneO
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May 1 2012 10:19

its interesting seeing this discussion. i have refused to vote and so far managed to avoid even turning up to get my name marked off. nearing ten years i rekon. mainly cause i move round alot. i am aware of 1 person nearing their 70's who has never voted. if you enrol to vote before elections you must vote or be penalised. you can make it lapse by somehow avoiding elections, the electoral comission and the LAW for around two years . then you get struck off. You are free not to vote from then on. Until now. the NSW government has come up with a back door enrolment. its called SMARTROLL. you do anything in NSW that involves the state government. they will find you and enrol you against your will through their automated systems. they then automatically enroll you in the federal and local rolls. and the whole circus starts again. ideolgy does not warrant a valid excuse not to vote. though some religeous persuasions can. of course. currently their is a high court challenge against compulsory voting in australia. maybe the guy might score a goal for us. i am an anarchist and australia is not a democracy. i have no intention of participating.ever. and i may pay the price. maybe you other australians might want to do the same. people have been gaoled for not voting. so i rekon it is wortn resisting.

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May 1 2012 10:42

ShaneO - thanks for that info, I've just looked it up now, and there's a lot on that website to be concerned with I think. The language used is quite threatening, in a calculated way.

Here: http://www.elections.nsw.gov.au/enrol_to_vote/smartroll

I laughed when I read this bit though,

Quote:
process is an 'opt-out' system which has been designed to allow those potentially eligible people to disagree with an automatic enrolment if the information received from other agencies is not correct. If there is no disagreement received after the legislated minimum elapsed time of 7 days, the eligible elector is notified that they are enrolled at their notified address.

So, as I understand it, if you correct them of their mistakes, you'll be opted-out. And then you'll probably opted back in again with your corrected data. "Opt-out system" my arse.

And who are these "agencies" opting you in on your behalf?

riot_dude
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May 1 2012 14:53
Standfield wrote:
I laughed when I read this bit though,
Quote:
process is an 'opt-out' system which has been designed to allow those potentially eligible people to disagree with an automatic enrolment if the information received from other agencies is not correct. If there is no disagreement received after the legislated minimum elapsed time of 7 days, the eligible elector is notified that they are enrolled at their notified address.

So, as I understand it, if you correct them of their mistakes, you'll be opted-out. And then you'll probably opted back in again with your corrected data. "Opt-out system" my arse.

Yes, it seems yr limited to 'opting-out' of being enrolled with the wrong address, bday, name, etc; not of opting out of enrollment.

Standfield wrote:
And who are these "agencies" opting you in on your behalf?

according to this:
http://www.elections.nsw.gov.au/enrol_to_vote/smartroll/Automatic_Enrolment_as_a_New_Elector

Quote:
The list of agencies who provide such information is as follows:

Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) - our Joint Enrolment partner
Federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) - provided via the AEC so that a potentially eligible person’s Australian citizenship can be confirmed
NSW Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) - address confirmation provided by clients of the RTA
NSW Office of the Board of Studies (OBOS) - registered NSW students, who are confirmed as either NSW-born or Australian citizens are automatically enrolled
TAFE NSW - although this registered student data will not be used before the next NSW state election in March 2011, it is envisaged that it may eventually be used in a similar manner to the information received from OBOS
NSW Office of State Revenue - First Home Owners Grant Scheme.