Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Part two of One Biased Guide to the Victorian Senate Election

Welcome to part two of my grueling investigation of the Senate preference ticket groups. Check out part one for an explanation of what I’m doing and of the first half of the Victorian Senate ballot paper.

In this section I’ll discuss the Democrats out of ballot order because their situation has ramifications for understanding other parties' preferences and it also ties in with my last post’s ending.

Australian Democrats.
You could say pretty much what I had to say about the Greens at the end of my last post in regard to the Australian Democrats. That makes it a poor description, sorry. It’s true both parties tend to like “sin taxes” or “nudge economics” – government incentives to affect economic decisions for health, social and environmental reasons. Emphasising that in my description of the Greens reflects my own bias that I’ve always felt the Australian Democrats and the Greens could have worked closer together.

I say could’ve because the Democrats have pretty much imploded now. In fact when I first searched for the Democrats website a week before posting this I had to click through a letter from the National President of the Australian Democrats. Confounding what my eyes see on the ballot paper it reads ; The National Executive of the Australian Democrats did not put forward candidates at this election, nor did it authorise any preference deals.

The party has split into warring factions who are contesting who actually is a Democrat. There are two Democrats websites. and (Succint coverage of the issue can be found here.) It’s the latter website that has the candidates.

This continues a public disintegration begun when Cheryl Kernot knifed her own party to join Labor back in 1997. Who would’ve thought that an activist party like the Greens would hold their shit together better than what’s been labeled a small business party? Probably anyone in small business perhaps.

As historically a party for small business the Democrats are supposedly on the economically conservative side of Labor. Yet when in office the Democrats called for increases in foreign aid and public funding for health and education along with the Greens in excess of Labor usually. It was the Democrats who negotiated to keep the GST off fresh food too. They’d look pretty left in our current landscape with those policies despite their desire to call themselves centrist. Given how Labor has drifted past the centre the Australian Democrats are probably now only to the right of the Greens and the Socialist Equality Party.

I wouldn’t count them out just yet. They or at least half the party have done quite well out of preference allocations this election. The Democrats seem to get a lot of love even from people who can’t stand the Greens. If they can get over their internal toxicity they may yet make a come back but that’s a big if.

Their own preferences will be heading either;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Family First 3. Greens 4. Labor 5. Liberal/Nationals
Or on ticket two with Labor and Liberal reversed;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Family First 3. Greens 4. Liberal/Nationals 5. Labor

Stop CSG Party
The “practice of fracturing the ground for coal seams can damage underground water reserves with toxic chemicals that are dangerous to humans, animals and plants” according to the Stop CSG party.

According to the CSIRO this risk is “low”. How low? Well that, in the words of CSIRO bigwig Dr. Peter Stone, is “related to the probability of contamination occurring and the actual nature of the risk associated with that contamination, so it's not something that can be answered with a simple number.”-

This is a response that makes me rethink our society’s choice to abandon augury. No witch would have earnt her silver with that hedged bet.

Everyone agrees that CSG has a lot smaller carbon footprint than the coal industry. But understandably if you were a farmer or local townie whose water supply “might” be contaminated those are benefits you wouldn’t care to pursue. Is this just a case of NIMBY politics or the last ditch defense of our nations' food basins? That’s “related to the probability of contamination occurring and the actual nature of the risk associated with that contamination”, so it's not something that can be answered with a simple vote.

But that’s all you’ve got. Your preferences might be heading this way;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Family First 3. Greens 4. Labor 5. National/Liberal

Katter's Australia Party
I have a soft spot for Bob Katter. Not only is he like some daft fun uncle but when he talks about suicidal farmers he drops the larrikin act quick smart. It’s rare to find a single character who can do both quirky and gravitas.

Katter's fierce opposition to the Greens is along the lines of those of the Lifestyle Rights parties (with recreational fishing a primary concern) and in relation to the impact of marine parks on aquaculture. Yet the party’s website also makes a great case for action on reducing emissions with acknowledgement of the scientific consensus around climate change.

The Katter's Australia Party also has possibly the harshest policies for refugees wrapped in a strangely welcoming rhetoric. It’s very confusing. They will forcibly turn back boats, only grant successful refugees temporary protection visas, monitor them electronically and make them build their own housing under a work for the dole scheme. But they do make a lovely reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan as inspiration.

Where Katter shines is the championing of economic protectionism over pure rationalism. The Nationals have been obliged in coalition with the Liberals to support the sale of public assets and oversee the abandonment of protection for Australian manufacturing and farming. That’s never been a winner with their constituents. Those who are truly disgruntled by it can jump ship with Bob Katter.

When they do their vote will roam in this way;
1. Family First 2. National/Liberal 3. Labor 4.Australian Democrats 5. Greens

Palmer United Party
Palmers first policy is to prevent paid political lobbyists from holding senior positions in political parties. Abbott denied Palmer this goal in the Liberal Party and maybe wishes he hadn’t now. As Palmer said at the time, defining the key issue of World War Two, we wouldn’t want to live in Nazi germany where a person couldn’t even put forward a resolution.

That’s just one way this billionaire empathises with the victims of tyranny. He has a novel way to “stop the boats”; let refugees fly here. He’s also deeply committed to “Ending the Class War” and replacing it with a system where tax revenues are returned to the regions they are collected from. When your local hospital depends on attracting a mining magnates investment (for example) class war probably will fracture. But without more detail we can’t know if our huts will be inside or outside our Lords castle walls.

Preferences from Palmers party are in the national interest only;
1. Family First 2. Australian Democrats 3. Greens 4. Liberal/Nationals 5. Labor

Justice For Animals Party
A specific policy on wombats; that is the level of detailed commitment you are dealing with here. I don’t mean that lightly. These people have held gun shot native animals in their hands, screaming at the absence of a God who protects, and broken the creatures necks to spare them slow agonizing deaths. You think they won’t then put sugar in that roo-shooters gas tank? They will beat him to death with a roo skull.

That’s the kind of drive behind these folks. And as we consistently chew our way through the unidentifiable ammonia-washed pink slime of a trillion sentient beings we know we deserve the judgement they bring.

To be clear Justice For Animals are not “greenies” who idealise an abstract idea like “the environment”. These are people whose constituency are non-human animals. No kill animal shelters for example are a goal without anything directly to do with environmental sustainability.

A fall-out with the ACT greens over a Green support for a cull of kangaroos has led to preferencing against each other in some places.
1. Australian Democrats 2. Family First 3. Greens 4. Labor 5. Liberal/Nationals

The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party
The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts party claims to consist of  “a very diverse range of average Australian families”. They pledge to keep this in mind as they “moderate extremism” in legislation. There’s a vague but strong suggestion of threat on their website to the honest practice of modifying ones motor vehicle based upon “freedom of expression.” I have absolutely no idea what this describes. Did we recently stop people putting spikes on their cars or something?

I am touched by their efforts on their facebook page to overcome differences in their own community based on the cars that people drive. Too many Ford loving parents have rejected their children for driving a Toyota. It’s time to heal.

Most importantly the first of their long list of core values is a belief in the Australian people. That’s fairly crucial to running for election.

Ticket one;
1. Family First 2.Australian Democrats 3. National/Liberal 4. Labor 5. Greens
Ticket two splits the National candidate from their Liberal peers;
1. Family First 2.Australian Democrats 3. Nationals 4. Labor 5. Liberals 6. Greens

Wikileaks and the Pirate Party
 Governments are free to know everything about their subjects and we are not free to know a thing about that. Both Wiki-Leaks and the Pirate party aim to reverse this. 

The Wikileaks campaign has unfortunately stalled. The second spot on their Senate ticket left the party after the National executive council was circumvented and mistakes were made with preference deals. Fundraising is massively below target. In straw polls amongst my friends Julian Assange isn’t a vote winning figure head either. It’s a shame because those same people still believe Gillard should have tried to defend him from U.S. prosecution on principle (instead of treating Assange like John Howard treated David Hicks). If this election was meant to show that support, it probably won’t.

The Pirate Party have avoided any possibility of Wikileaks mistakes by choosing to have an entirely open and transparent process of allocating their preferences. In fact they are the only party to do so. (They still got duped by the Australian Democrats candidates into believing they spoke for the whole party though but so did everyone it seems).

This transparency plus their easily searchable policy wiki suggests an impressive skill set for such a young party. Honestly I have looked at twenty seven political parties web sites so far and this was the second easiest to comprehend (Justice for Animals was number one actually).  I liked what I saw of Pirate policy from their stance on refugees to the reform of pharmaceutical patents.

In fact I was so impressed I joined the party.

Preferences for Wiki Leaks;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Greens 3. Labor 4. Liberal/Nationals 5. Family First
And for the Pirate Party;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Greens 3. Labor 4. Liberal Nationals 5. Family First

Sex Party
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am down with the sex positivity. Hence it might be a surprise that I am not a fan of the Sex party. That springs from the suspicion that this is really a sex-business party with a sex-positivist gloss. The links between this party and the Eros Foundation (lobby group for the sex-industry) are extensive. For fucks sake one of their candidates in NSW promises to get rid of the ban on plastic bags on the Sex party website. What’s that got to do with the size of orgasms?

Another of the Sex party’s policies is the legal sale and regulation of cannabis. The model they propose for this is perfect for the Eros Foundation members who already sell legal highs through their “adult” stores. There’s the question of whether business or pleasure is really the motivator here.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Sex shops are not necessarily dens of iniquity. Bliss in Melbourne is a sex-shop specifically for women with a lovely and healthy vibe. Why can’t good drug or sex policy also have a capitalist expression and a business constituency that will benefit from it?

Because in our culture the filter of commercialism is almost invisible. This means that the replacement of a DIY sexyness with one from the gift shop is even more troubling than one mediated by religion. You can think you are getting “raw” sexuality from a sex shop but in fact it is very well cooked to create the relationship of customer to seller that such a business relies on. More specifically to this election, if the sex party is all about gay marriage and legal dope why do they put Labor before the Greens;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Labor 3. Greens 4. Liberal/National 5. Family First

Australian Labor Party
Just for a moment let’s forget that the Labor party has been its own circus/abbatoir for three years. Let’s breathe deep of the lavender and imagine all that is behind us.

Two things ought to get Labor re-elected. We have a national disability insurance scheme now. That’s huge. Secondly the Gonski education reforms have been developed (blame Western Australia, Queensland and until recently Victoria for holding them up). These reforms are the fix school funding has needed since John Howard made it a coke-fest for the wealthy. Health and education; when you consider there’s no real debate about defence or law and order in this election, that’s politics sewn up.

But then the issue of refugees has been made into both a defence and law and order issue for some people. If you can’t walk the beaches for fear of being mugged by a group of people rowing ashore for the first time what good is a properly funded education sector? On that issue even if Rudd personally decapitates an asylum seeker on public television he will still come off second best to a Liberal party prepared to feast on the victims still warm heart. And everyone knows it.

Also Labors big tale of preventing recession from reaching our shores like a boss (as if they personally were buying our minerals from China) doesn’t correspond to how people feel. It’s fine to say GDP is healthy overall but people are hurting from factory closures even if other people are making a mint importing waistcoats. The two only balance on paper. A new extension in one home and an eviction at another don’t cancel each other out at the polls. In that context, and because even the winners of our economic lottery “feel” poorer than they are, a government whose message is success seems out of touch.

Finally the party is like a beacon of anti-excitement. They underwhelm on the elections sexiest issue by promising to have just another conscience vote about gay marriage. They take the hot-button issue of Abbott’s sexism and defuse it by appointing a leader who undermined the first female prime minister more than the opposition. They have hands down the most boring website so far in this review. Perhaps the last legacy of Kevin Rudd will be that the word selfie can now no longer be used by anyone under the age of twenty.

For those who like dry white toast;
1. Labor 2. Greens 3. Australian Democrats 4. Family First 5. Liberal/Nationals

Drug Law Reform
This is a really recent party, founded in March this year by the son of the founder of the Australian Democrats. They draw on the support of people who have lost loved ones to drugs more so than drug users themselves. At least that’s the vibe of their web site. Their take and I get this, is that were those drugs legal the fatal harms associated with them might not have been there.

Although from just their slogans you can guess what they stand for, it’s almost impossible to pin it down online for sure. You can join the party having agreed to no more than humane legislation, discussion and education which someone could claim are already features of the current system. Only after asking through their facebook site for directions could I find an actual policy page. It seems like the only definite stance they have is to call for a Royal Commission into the War on Drugs. That’s frustratingly bare and hopefully something they fill out soon.

Are they calling for the legalization of Marijuana? Almost definitely. What about all drugs across the board? Maybe?

They went with two tickets;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Greens 3. Labor 4. Liberal/National 5. Family First
Ticket two has the ALP and Liberals reversed;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Greens 3. Liberal/National 4. Labor 5. Family First

Bullet Train For Australia
One of the questions in the leaders’ debate this election was when will Sydney build a second airport. Flights between Melbourne and Sydney, Australia’s peak route include around 110,000 seats per week.  Between Brisbane and Sydney air traffic is almost as heavy. Sydney airport is considered choked and travel along the Eastern seaboard is a big part of why.

Showing a complete lack of faith in teleportation  and a general snub to the benefits of slow travel, Bullet Train for Australia have a plan to solve Sydney's airport congestion. Along the way they might just help with some other small problems like the environment and the East coast economy.

The very fact that only this party exists instead of an actual Bullet train is an affront to common sense. By promising clearly not to weigh in on any other issues they’ve made it safe for fans of either Family First or the Sex Party to vote 1 for a Bullet train and then personally number the rest of their ballot how they’d like.

But if you tick 1 for the Bullet Train above the line it’s odd that your preferences go here;
1. Australian Democrats 2. Family First 3. Labor 4. Greens 5. Liberal/National

Australian Christians
This kind of party makes my blood boil a little. It’s bad enough that Labor get’s away with calling itself Labor or The Country Alliance implies they have allied the country but the chutzpah hat gets taken off them by Australian Christians and then ridden around like it’s a pony. I’ll just check with my friend the Christian drug and alcohol worker if she feels represented by a “zero-tolerance approach” to drugs that rejects any harm-minimisation education. What’s that sound? Is she breaking things?

Of course language being what it is, there is no more stopping me from claiming to represent all Zoroastrians than there is this crew from claiming to be particularly Christian. In fact I’m tempted to start a party called the True Christian Faithful Party.

Celebrating further the beautiful fluidity of language Australian Christians express the desire to “create a better Australia for all Australians, no matter what their faith and belief”. Then they have the following policy;
Regarding refugee intake in general, we believe Australia should re-balance the refugee intake to reduce the number of Muslim refugees and take more persecuted Christians from various African countries.
I guess there’s a loophole in that they aren’t Australian yet. A refugee policy that discriminates on the basis of ones own religion is one way to increase your parties support.

1. Family First 2. Liberal/Nationals 3. Labor  4.Australian Democrats 5. Greens

Citizens Electoral Council
As described in the CEC “Fighting Platform” the powerful global British banking system are not only laundering drug cartels money but they are financing the legalization and decriminalisation campaigns for their drug cartel allies. The basthards. Except legalization would devastate drug cartel profits so that doesn’t make sense.

It’s little things like this where a perfectly ordinary hard–left party can betray the crazy. The Citizens Electoral Council is just such a party. However you could also call them hard-right because they prove the adage that such extremes meet at some point. That meeting point can thrive in the land of conspiracy politics, where every single aspect of our time is part of one totalizing power structure; the left and right of politics are only two hand puppets of the shadow government after all. If you thought land rights or environmentalism were resistances to power these guys explain how both are somehow just a new way for the British banks to turn us into slaves. Only the CEC can provide the true red pill.

I actually believe it’s our responsibility to listen carefully to conspiracy theorists. Firstly to deny all conspiracies is the most inane position of all. Of course people in power work together. Secondly the way my brain wants to stop thinking just because the CEC describe the royal family ( a classic conspiracy villain)  as the masterminds of a plan to cull the human race, well that’s exactly what would happen if I was a programmed sheep of such a global conspiracy. I would want to stop thinking about it, right?  So it’s true?

That’s why I only say after calm consideration that the policies of the CEC are wrong. I’m not balking at their history of political violence or the fraud convictions against the economist whose ideas they worship, both of which could easily be fabrications of the shadow government. I’m talking about their plans to re-develop the biosphere through irrigating deserts and to colonise new planets so that humanity thrives without any population limits or use of alternative energy.

Now here’s the rub though. In order to argue against these ideas I have to rely on general scientists to back me up. People like David Attenborough who is a part of the conspiracy, are obviously going to say the CEC are wrong.

These poor guys had to choose which part of the conspiracy to preference first and couldn’t quite. So on Ticket one;
1. Family First 2. Liberal/Nationals 3. Australian Democrats 4. Labor 5. Greens
And Ticket two;
1. Family First 2. Australian Democrats 3. Labor 4. Liberal/Nationals 5. Greens

Group AJ
Bob Nicholls is a small business man with a common sense, level-headed approach. He’s no dandy but he can wear a tie and not look silly. Him and about everyone’s dad are going to get along.

He knows from running a business that you don’t sell off money making public assets to pay off debt. Not only that but his policies include to “Collectively uncover and root out misogynistic tendencies hidden in our cultural background” and in regard to abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia he states “It is not my role to tell other people how to live their lives.”

Let’s clone him and never have an election again.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find much on his running mates under the AJ ticket. On Facebook Bob informed me one is his daughter and another a business friend with various skills.

Like a true independent thinker Bob has scattered his preferences all over the place, a single green and then a single ALP member, then a Liberal National and so on. The Democrats are split up but all of Family First are last. I have no idea what effect this will have.

Socialist Equality Party
This is a Trotskyist party. Leon Trostsky was a Russian Communist who was expelled from the party and eventually assassinated for opposing Stalinism. Stalinism was that style of KGB driven communism that looked exactly like Nazism except for minor aesthetic differences. That makes Trotsky a good guy, though some claim this is only by comparison to one of history's worst dictators.

What this means today is that the Socialist Equality party is economically communist but unlike the communism of Stalin and Mao they believe in democracy.

They use the word “expropriate” to describe putting institutions under public ownership. Banks and major corporations are to be expropriated under their policies. The money that presumably would bring in can be spent on free public education and housing. I wonder whether in the transition period would this mean kids will use bank pens at school and people will live in refurbished McDonalds? Who cares? It still sounds great.
One reason not to vote for these guys is that most of their party are probably members of ASIO under cover. Still if they stay in role does that matter?

Actually now I look at their preferences I hate them. Ridiculous. Ticket One;
1. Liberal/National 2 . Democrats 3. Family First 4. Greens 5. Labor
Ticket two;
1. Labor 2. Liberal/National 3. Family First 4. Greens 5. Democrats
Ticket three;
1. Greens 2. Democrats 3. Labor 4. Liberal/National 5. Family First

Democratic Labour Party
The Democatic Labour party are famous for forming after many of their members were expelled in 1955 from the Labor Party. They were predominantly Catholic and saw as their main enemy the communist influence in the Labor Party.  This is classic cold war stuff and the mere mention of the characters in play when the DLP began, B.A. Santamara and Archbishop Mannix cause grainy black and white news footage to play in my head.

When the 60’s swung round the D.L.P. moved their focus of criticism to the new “permissiveness” opposing abortion, pornography, drugs and the removal of electrodes from the nipples of lesbians and gay men. Today they not only oppose gay marriage but same-sex civil unions or relationship registration of any sort.

They also make dog-whistle comments about the Family Courts unfairness and express “solidarity” with non-custodial parents which I suspect may be part of a fathers rights paradigm but can’t be sure. Our Family Court is explicitly biased towards the child’s rights.

In the 70’s the DLP lost a lot of their support when the country opposed the Vietnam War which they had strongly supported. The cold war was over and although the DLP were opponents of neo-liberalism and small government as much as they were communism no-body cared for them and they lost representation in the 1974 double dissolution election. Their preferences had kept Labor out of office for two decades until Whitlam won in 1972.

Cue bugle call. For several years the DLP were that sort of surprise nostalgia jolt on polling day when some old dude with a comb over hands you a green and gold pamphlet of their particular hue. Then all of a sudden in 2006 a Victorian DLP candidate wins a state senate seat. They lose it at the next election but in 2010 another DLP candidate won a Federal senate seat for Victoria narrowly and on preferences. Feck me. It’s alive.

Preferences flow to;
1. Family First 2. Liberal/Nationals (mostly) 3. Labor (mostly) 4. Democrats 5. Greens

Group T
Joseph Toscano and Beth Matthews are “anarchist independants” according to some site I stumbled on. That site and a Wikipedia entry with no particular relevance to the election campaign are the most clear indications I could find of their candidacy.

I left this group to last because I wanted to crack the case of what they stood for. I was keen to write awesome things about an anarchist running for senate. Then I got waylaid by some out of date 2010 site where all their links to policy were dead links. Joseph Toscano’s website invited me to renew his expired domain name. I can’t figure out how to contact them… aaagh. Is there some anarchist rule that you have to be terrible at self-promotion?

Backtracking I managed to download a sort of  policy document which included a 1% stock market turnover tax and a wealth tax, the replacement of Australian states with a Federation of fifty Regional Councils and the creation of an economic system of co-operatives and collectives.

They say they are running for the senate to raise their issues rather than to win but I think they are on track to do neither.

Preferences go for;
1. Greens 2. Labour 3. Democrats 4. Liberals 5. Family First


And that's that. I hope its been helpful.The second half got delayed by the start of a new job which will probably keep me from regularly blogging for a while. Sorry if you were kept hanging there.

I've actually been impressed by quite a few of the people and groups running for the Victorian Senate this year. Most of them are sincere at the very least. I'll probably end up voting below the line, now that I have an idea of many of the candidates. I most likely will put the Pirate Party first followed by the Greens. But how do I decide whether Bob Nicholls goes higher than Wiki-Leaks? Or whether Animal Justice goes lower  than the ALP? And then there are all the candidates and parties I didn't research (because I was focusing on the above the line groups). Good luck with your own decision and no matter how you vote may it be with your mind on the disadvantaged in our society

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