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19 November 2007 @ 04:06 pm
Below The Line - Adventures in the Australian Senate  
After Leah and Damien posted about the trials involved in voting in the senate, I thought to myself, not this time. This time I will not be caught in a cardboard booth, clutching a pencil stub, wondering if the Hope Party are slightly lefty or slightly loony. (Lefty, I later found out.) I went scouring the internet for a party-by-party breakdown of who all the candidates were and what they stood for, but I couldn't find a thing. Just a Queensland one that wavered between lauding Pauline Hanson and describing the greens as 'losers'. I don't know about you, but if someone tries to write off a political group using the word 'loser', I instantly stop listening.

My House of Reps voting preferences were assisted a little by GetUp's little web tool, How Should I Vote, which allows you to take a 20 question test, and then gives you a list of how the candidates in your seat answered in comparison to you. It's a little left-biased - no Libs seem to have taken the test - but interesting anyway. But nothing on the senate! Nothing!

So I did a bunch of trolling the interweb, and then, well, I thought, why not chuck all this together so that the lovely folks on my interweb friends list can, too, know ahead of time what the candidate for Senator On-Line stands for?

The following is drawn from the list of Victorian Senate candidates on the Australian Electoral Commission's website. Candidates are in the order they appear on the ballot. Parties marked "Group X" etc are only listed by name on the ballot, not by party, I think because they're not official political parties, but I've tried to dig up their affiliates where possible. I also add a disclaimer; I'm a little hazy on how the hell senate preferences actually work. The implications I attach, or in fact anything I've said full stop, may be entirely wrong, and should by no means be used as a guide for voting.

Climate Change Coalition - This is the party Dr Karl is running with in NSW. I personally find the idea of Dr Karl being a senator about three notches down from, but on the same scale as, Christopher Walken running for president. (On a scale of five notches, Walken for President being at 5.) Lots of famous endorsements - Tim Flannery, Phillip Adams, Wendy Harmer. This is absolutely a one-issue party. There are no policies relating to anything except climate change. Preferences, oddly, go to the Dems then Labor then Greens, which (catch me if I'm wrong) is equivalent to cutting the Greens out entirely.

One Nation - From the One Nation website, verbatim with html preserved:

Global warming Eh?

Here under a petition of around
well qualified scientists who basically say its  rubbish!

I rest my case.

Australian Democrats - Soldiering on with their backpack of small-l liberal policies, the rumours of the Australian Democrats' death have been greatly exaggerated. Lyn Allison, their leader, is running for the senate in Victoria. I hear she's nice. I confess here that I retain a mile-wide soft spot for the Democrats, and in the interests of full disclosure, was the secretary of the Australian Democrats Club at Melbourne Uni and ran with them for Womens' Committee. The Dem's preferences are going the Greens by way of an array of obscure parties: Carers Alliance, Climate Change Coalition, What Women Want, the Secular Party, and weirdly, Kaliniy the Roundabout Guy (who put them last-ish on his own preferences).

What Women Want - This party seems to be about Women. Real Women. Real Women With Babies. It seems to be mostly made up of midwives, housewives, rural women, nurses etc, and takes a sort of practial-womanliness Mums-Everywhere attitude to the issues. Women don't want nuclear power or AWAs, for example. Women want peace, gay marriage, living wages, childcare. Their preferences go straight to the Greens, thus making them officially a lefty front.

Senator On-Line - "Australia's only Internet based democratic political party!" They claim they'll vote along with what their online netizen constituents tell them. But... suspiciously clean web design... lack of the kind of forum traffic such a venture would usually have... Hyphen in "on-line" where no web user would ever put one... and preferences go through the small-party gamut before ending up at the Dems' and ALP's doorstep. In return, the ALP have given them third go at their pile, after the Greens and the Climate Change crew. Too good to be true, perhaps. Preference scam? I think so.
[Edit] Berge Der Sarkissian, the party's founder, was sprung in 2002 for making 420 Telstra 2 share applications in false names. Of course, we've all had our past moments of misjudgement, who hasn't? I know I'm responsible for the occasional small-scale fraud.

Australian Labor Party - You know them. You love them. You hate them. It's Kevin and Julia, your favourite underpants-on-the-outside fighters and lovers! Not of eachother though. They're married. To other people. Anyway, they have some senate candidates.
[edit] I'm told Julia Gillard isn't married. Which gives me ideas...
Mrs Nicole Gillard
Mrs Nicole Gillard
Mrs Nicole Gillard

The Australian Shooters Party - "The upcoming Federal election gives sporting shooters, anglers and 4WDers a new opportunity to strengthen their political voice and protect their sporting and recreational activities from the threat of the extreme Greens." Preferences, charmingly, go to the ALP and then Fred Nile and Family First.

Liberal - Today's Headline: Julia Gillard Denies Involvement in the Waterfront Dispute! News Centre: Tough on Drugs! The Risk of Labor: Find out more!

This year, the Liberals are uniformly handing their preferences over to the Christian Right Loony Brigade. For god's sake, if you must vote Liberal, do it under the line. You never know where a stray vote can end up, prostituting itself to all kinds of unsavoury causes.

The Nationals - I'm not going to say much about the Nationals except to say that their website instantly made me think of the website for Mitre 10. For more see "Liberals" above.

Group I - Joseph Toscano and Jude Pierce, "medical practitioner" and "pensioner"... sounds nice and reliable, yes? Actually, they're anarchists. Dr Joe Toscano hosts Anarchist World This Week on 3CR (since 1977) and is on the Friends of the ABC committee. As one would expect of an anarchist, his policies and chosen fights are a little bit random and of-the-moment. Preferences to the Greens, Senator On-Line and the Socialist Alliance.

Socialist Equality Party - "The SEP is standing in order to build a socialist movement in opposition to the entire political establishment — Liberal, Labor and Greens." To that effect, they're doing something immensely obscure with preferences - three tickets, one favouring each of the above. Their long and detailed policy statement begins by denouncing the Iraq war and militarism, moves on to the anti-terror legislation, denounces the effectiveness of global economic policy, denounces the gap between rich and poor (there's a lot of denouncing), serves up a glorious socialist policy smorgasbord (free education, accommodation, extra funding for arts and scientific research, climate action, well-paid jobs for all, public health and public everything else, freedom of speech, is there anything these people can't do?), slips in a reference to the working class, and finishes with some good old-fashioned revolutionary fist-waving. You just don't get parties like these any more.

Family First - Ahhhh, Family First. Doesn't everyone love family? You can't not. It's like ponies, or icecream. But Family First give me the serious creeps. Their policy documents are, incredibly annoyingly, all in separate PDF documents (apparently their warm-fuzzy disabled policy doesn't extend to actually allowing the blind to read them) but are basically run on strict biblical lines. There's a lot of violin-playing on the sanctity of Family and implication of the horrible consequences of not being in one (with two heterosexual parents who are married to eachother and where the mother stays home, and in which the child is probably the result of an unwanted pregnancy where the mother decided against an abortion). These guys have first crack at the preferences from the Libs, as well as One Nation, is it any wonder they keep cropping up like acne?

LDP (Liberty and Democracy Party) - Quite the mixed bag, this lot. Their policy basically comes down to "I'll do whatever I wanna do." Smoke, take drugs, own property, find my own healthcare, go shootin' rabbits, speak freely, pay my own way, get euthanased, own property etc etc. The public welfare, education and health systems should be dismantled, everything should be privatised, and nuclear power, immigrants and free trade are fine fine fine. In reflection of this mixed bag, their preferences go to the Secular Party (preference swap), Libs for Forests and One Nation before homing in on the third-listed ALP candidate and ending up at Family First and the Libs.

Conservatives for Climate and Environment - Ahh, how nice! An economic rationalist party with a heart of green, leafy, small-L-liberal gold. Or is it? The preferences are haywire. First to Senator On-Line, then the Climate Change folks, then to... the LDP? then to What Women Want, then smack-bang into the lap of Family First.
Also, their front page features the craziest bit of MS Visio handiwork I've ever seen.

Democratic Labor Party - I particularly liked this policy line: "An end to radical-feminist affirmative action policies whose primary social and economic effect is the disemployment of male breadwinners and the youth." The DLP are anti-feminist, anti-GLBT, anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, with an extra sprinkling of super-militaristic. Their environmental and multiculturalism/immigration policies have the look of having been carefully tidied up to cover the obvious. Preferences from One Nation and the second slice of the Liberal vote pie metaphor thing. They've done a preference swap with Kaliniy the Roundabout Guy before moving on to the more expected Fred Nile and Family First.

Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) Ohhh, Fred Nile. As expected preferences go to Democratic Labor and Family First. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Group P - Secular Party of Victoria - John Perkins and Andrew Conway. They aren't a registered party, so just their names appear on the ballot. Secular humanist policies, quite a comprehensive array actually, from the obvious no-prayer-in-schools, pro-scientific-research and separation-of-church-and-state to the only policy on intellectual property I've seen so far. They'll never get in, so my preference will go elsewhere, but I think I might give these guys a |1| or a |2| as a nice gesture of spaghetti-monster solidarity. They've done a preference swap with the LDP, after which their preferences head for Climate Change and the Dems. [edit] I know it's wrong to assume every maths PhD is someone I know, but I thought Andrew Conway looked familiar. It turns out he's Peter's friend Vanessa's husband. I not only know him, I've met his kids. Weird.

Citizens Electoral Council - Loonies. I had a really good laugh at this one: "In July 2004, the CEC released a pamphlet, Children of Satan III—The Sexual Congress For Cultural Fascism. This pamphlet exposed the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF)—a CIA-funded cultural warfare unit sponsoring hideous modernist and postmodernist "art" against the Classical tradition in art. This irrational garbage called "art" is used as a way of undermining the population's ability to think. One notorious example of this cultural warfare was the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom's support for the psychotic "Blue Poles" painting in the National Gallery of Australia by Jackson Pollock, a stalwart of the CCF." (From here. Links are mine, not CEC's.)
Preferences straight to the Libs, and to Carers and One Nation, if they make it that far. As far as I can tell, absolutely no-one has given the CEC any real preferences. This is good. The are loonies.

Non-Custodial Parents Party - Obviously enough, a bit of a one-issue platform - but other stated (if a bit thin in the details) policies include non-support of iraq/afghanistan, less "red tape" in business, support of free trade and globalisation, anti-nuclear-power and pro-Kyoto, increased Medicare and PBS, more public transport, less State and more Federal government. Despite all this pseudo-lefty stuff, their preferences go, after briefly stopping at Carers Alliance, to One Nation, Fred Nile and Family First.

Socialist Alliance - Preferences to the Greens. Good old Socialist Alliance: What would we do without their tables of badges. petitions and leaflets, apparently following us from place to place independently on their little fold-out legs? Socialist Alliance policy is characterised by an excess of exclamation marks and often begins with the word "Stop".

Group T - Joseph Kaliniy and Koulla Mesaritis. Self described "Active Politician", Joseph Kaliniy has made a career out of running for anything you can run for - state, federal, local, school SRCs, passing trams, you name it. Previous involvements include "Democratic United Australian People for Monarchy", and a state policy platform focusing on "dental waiting lists, problem roundabouts, car parks on busy roads with tram lines, and parents' right to discipline their children." He's swapped preferences with the far-right Democratic Labor Party, then it's on to Libs.

Australian Greens - A little flash-animated Bob Brown greets you as you visit the Greens website. Sadly, you cannot make him dance. Preferences go to the Democrats.

Group V - Tony and Amanda Klein. Tony Klein's policy statement promises that he has absolutely no policies whatever. He just promises to make his mind up as he goes along, and you get to decide if that's okay based on his personal attributes: computer engineer and manager, married with kids, mortgage, owns shares, non-smoker and occasional drinker, sufferer of "good times and bad times", overweight figure and ownership of both a Ford and a Holden. His preferences slew around the Greens, Democrats, Carers' and What Women Want, and to my great delight, he's put in the Anarchist candidate at no. 6.

Carers Alliance - Single-issue party lobbying for increased support, consideration, et cetera, for those who look after people who can't look after themselves. Their top policy aim is for all legislation (all legislation) to include a statement on how it will impact families caring for someone with a dependent disability. Even legislation on tax, or road quality, or food handling. Okay, I'm being mean now, they're probably quite nice people. They've given their preferences to all the tiny left-wing parties. Tiny left-wing party solidarity!

WALKER, Norman - No amount of grilling the internet for this man's name and a variety of keywords would give up anything resembling an identity, let alone a policy. His occupation is described as "Mature Age Student". He could work for Centrelink, or be a peer of the realm, or a now-deceased raw food advocate, or write English exercise books for children, or none of the above. I just don't know.

Independent - Darryl O'Bryan - A plumber and chairman of the Community Law Resource Group, Darryl seems to be an amateur legal expert running as an Independent, he's very big on constitutional rights and what looks to my untrained eye like somewhat shaky legalese. According to Darryl, there's a constitutional subsection that'll get you out of anything. Traffic tickets, water restrictions, you can even secede if you want to.

Independent - Llewellyn John Groves - this guy is somehow standing for One Nation WA in Victoria. The One Nation WA website is slightly better than Mark Aldridge's whacked-out rant, but the content remains the same pseudo-nationalist thinly veiled racism and Family Values. I don't know quite when Family Values became a dirty word, but I'm on the verge of yelling it at people who cut in front of me in traffic.

Independent - Tejay M Şener - That's Şener, with a cedilla. A physicist running as an independent, his policies run to the lefty side of things, with a few extra policies that I personally like the look of. Public Australian control of our own damn internet cables, for example. Extra Channel 31 funding. More funding to Robots and Robotic Vehicles! He's even got his own YouTube Channel. Tejay hasn't got a snowflake's chance in hell of becoming a senator, but I think I'm going to vote for him anyway. It's Australia, after all! It's impossible to throw away your vote.

[Edit] It's just been pointed out to me that whoever gets your |1| preference gets $1.50 for it, provided they receive over 4% of the vote. If you'd like to vote for someone who isn't likely to crack the 4% mark, you can give your |1| to someone low on one of the bigger tickets (e.g. the fourth-listed Greens candidate) and then your vote will carry on to your real first preference.

David Newgreen4thofeleven on November 19th, 2007 08:29 am (UTC)
THANK YOU! I've been going mad trying to find information on some of the obscure loons running for the senate. How on earth is one supposed to be an informed voter if half these people don't bother putting out any information about themselves?
aedunaaeduna on November 19th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
Check their preference top & bottoms is how I do it...
(no subject) - harkon on November 20th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - matcha_pocky on November 20th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - harkon on November 20th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sener4senate on November 20th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - harkon on November 20th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sener4senate on November 20th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jod999 on November 24th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sener4senate on November 25th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 19th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Nice post.
I've just found your site after doing my own research on into the candidates in the senate which I've written about on pageocrap.blogspot.com. Norman Walker has me intrigued. Who is this masked man????
Nicole: tldrmatcha_pocky on November 20th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC)
Re: Nice post.
Gosh, if I'd found this before I started, I wouldn't've started. Much more thorough than my sarcasm-laden rant.
sener4senate on November 19th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you
Dear Nicole, Thanks for the write up on below the line voting, about my candidacy, and illustrating diverse options available for below the line voters. I agree with you that some of the statements are a bit left of centre, but I think it's due to 11 years of Howard neglecting, or worse partly dismantling many such social programs (public education, medicare, etc). Otherwise the balance would have been probably closer to the centre. In my second video clip (http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=wfMh-S1YP5A), I try to emphasize that I will provide electorate participation in the democratic process via socio-political forum styled networks. Including polls. Whereby, my positions will merge with what the electorates needs and wants. So long as it is not against my conscience. Hence also the listing of my policies. But I have faith that in such circumstances, once the facts are presented, the majority will decide on what's best. Thank you, Tejay
Nicolematcha_pocky on November 20th, 2007 05:12 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you
Hi Tejay, your slightly lefty policies are okay with me :) I'll be stringing out the green triangles on my front fence come Saturday. You're right, though, it's been pretty hard to be a true centreist for the last few years, with the right skewing so alarmingly right.

Good luck on Saturday!
Re: Thank you - sener4senate on November 20th, 2007 08:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
sener4senate on November 19th, 2007 12:51 pm (UTC)
That was first post on Livejournal
And clearly, it shows, as the paragraphs all got merged into 1. Sorry about that.

Test paragraph break.

Meleemeleah on November 19th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC)
Damnit, where were you last week?

Ever wonder what would happen if, just for a national experiment, one day we voted all the small crazies in and none of the big parties? What an interesting three years in the senate it could be. Personally, I'd love to watch the LaRouchians vs. Fred Nile vs. Anarchists.

Okay, country mightn't get run for a couple years, but we'd all be entertained. In fact, someone pitch that to a network executive as a reality show now!
Jacobyak_boy on November 19th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
Preferences, oddly, go to the Dems then Labor then Greens, which (catch me if I'm wrong) is equivalent to cutting the Greens out entirely.

Well, technically you are wrong, because the only way that absolutely no preferences get passed on from one candidate to the next is if the higher preferenced candidate gets exactly enough votes for a single quota and no more.

There is a detailed explanation here, you can probably skip down to the bits on "determining quota" and "how preferences are distributed".

Anyway, the upshot is that if preferences go to Labor before Greens, it means that the Greens will probably get some tiny fractional value out of those preferences, but considering how tight the senate race can be, that's not necessarily worthless.

Of course, that hardly nullifies your objection - why would a party for action on climate change preference *any* other party before the Greens? But it's worth noting that the first three preferences go to one each of those three parties, and since candidate number 2 of the Labor party is reasonably likely to make quota, it does make a fair amount of difference. Not that it makes their ticket any more attractive, because reading further on it becomes clear they've done weird deals with pretty much everyone - Family First and the Libs come next, well before the second Democrat or Greens candidate.
Jacobyak_boy on November 19th, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC)
Actually, assuming that none of the Climate Change Coalition get quota, and assuming Lyn Alison fails to get re-elected (which is on the cards), and then assuming that Jacinta Collins gets well over a quota (also likely, since Labor will get a big primary vote), Di Natale of the Greens is actually going to get quite a sizeable fractional value out of the CCC's preferences. So, every vote for CCC, is hypothetically worth, say, half a vote for Di Natale. And that ain't bad.

The flow on to Family First and the Libs is quite bad, however, so I'm not too happy with what could have been a party I would otherwise support.
(Deleted comment)
Nicolematcha_pocky on November 20th, 2007 05:09 am (UTC)
Actually, it might be a cookie thing. I had cookies disabled when I did my test and the thing just wouldn't work - it may not revise them after you've taken the test once. I came out with the result I expected though - Greens then Dems then Labor - so it never occurred to me to test it thoroughly... hmmm. Will poke around.
(no subject) - kitling on November 20th, 2007 05:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
Veevsvestalvagrant on November 20th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
Thanks for this hugely useful run-down!
Patrickartbroken on November 20th, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)
This is solid gold. Thank you so much! I'll link to this in my journal as well, if that's okay.
Nicole: snailmatcha_pocky on November 20th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
Link all you like. Cursed thing took long enough to put together, I'm awfully happy to know it's useful to anyone at all :)
Shane: mulberry bonsaidaern on November 20th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
Oh yes, very useful Nicole, as Artbroken says. Much appreciated. Did I mention I'll be off to Japan in Feb? Pop my my LJ and leave me some touristy suggestions? :)
Thalass T'Kynnthalass on November 21st, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! For at least pointing me in the right direction... I don't even know the names of the people running against the Liberal woman who runs my electorate. I'd vote for her, but a vote for her means a vote for King Jonny. What I need is a Freehold party to vote for... Though personally, after reading that book I'm torn between socialist leanings and libertarian leanings... I'm some sort of political oxymoron.
nervegasattack on November 22nd, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
Thanks loads for this post! I was googling names like crazy until I ran into this.
That Norman Walker is still a mystery though...
Possum O'Doomgreenglowgrrl on November 22nd, 2007 06:47 am (UTC)
"Mr Walker" is the street alias of Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks.

Perhaps he has left Africa and received Australian citizenship. In this case his policy would be: "I promise to fight on the side of the Weak against the Oppressor -- with Good against Evil -- and to do everything in my power to destroy Greed, Cruelty and Injustice, wherever it exists. And may my children follow after me."

Apart from rather hoping for media reports about politicians found unconcious with little skull marks on their jaws, I can add no more to solving that mystery, I'm afraid. But good work, Nicole!

Craigkremmen on November 22nd, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)
I often wonder if there's some unwritten rule forbidding anyone from posting anything really worthwhile on LJ. If there is, you've broken it.
(Anonymous) on November 22nd, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
Sadly, Labor have given Jacinta Collins their number 1 senate slot. Why the ALP would put an anti-abortionists at the head of their party I'll never understand...
Lee Davis-Thalbournekirby1024 on November 22nd, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)
Alas, the order of the candidates in each group is 100% random from my information.
(no subject) - sener4senate on November 22nd, 2007 12:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sener4senate on November 22nd, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 22nd, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
great work!
Nicole - between you and pageocrap.blogspot.com, you've done us a great service. So much more useful than the bland nerddom of Anthony Green at the poor old neutered ABC. Now if only the majority of Australia's voters gave enough of a shit to give their vote some thought and sought out your fine sites.