Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Our preferences are voting preferences and NOT party loyalties or allegiances.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettel's reasoning: A vote for Labor or the Democrats in the Senate is now potentially a vote for right-wing Christian candidates is beyond rhetoric.

IT IS PURE SOPHISTRY, and useless to advance a political debate, let alone interest. It is wishful thinking reasoning meant to inspire with its self-fulfilling aspiration to be taken seriously.

The question for debate is whether in fact this proposition is true. Asserting that it is true is not supporting its truth with anything more than supposition or bootstraps.

Take the Greens assertion that: "Voting Green will ensure your preferences do not elect fundamentalist Christian parties that support the war in Iraq". Under the preferential system for the Senate the distribution of preferences, your vote either counts and elects someone, or is with the group that fails to elect anyone (in being on the minority).

It is no shame to have voted and lost and it is no shame to have voted, and tactically to split the government's vote into the election of a splinter group that fractionates the prior majority of the government's ruling coalition.

This latter option may not be the best option, and in fact it may not be better than voting for the Democrats or the Greens. But if your choice is that it is better for your vote to defeat the government than to support a minor party to obtain the election of more than one Senator in its own right with its own first preferences, including yours, then it bears analysis whether or not the different minor party preference deals are all the same in following the aim of defeating the government, or whether one or more uphold the philosophy that it is better to lose the tactical advantage of splintering the conservative vote, than to see any non-government party win a place that would otherwise have gone to the government.

The parties DON'T OWN VOTES. They are standing for our votes. The voters are the people making the voting preference. The parties make strategic decisions about how to get their candidates elected by the exploiting the anomaly that the votes of your most bitter opponent may be the difference between being elected and having an influence in the Parliament, or being puritanical and 'holy' about the voting process and therefore being left out of the Parliamentary box-seat and being UNABLE to influence anything that is to be decided on the floor of either House.

The public know this and it is a religious political intelligence that dares to decree that unless the votes of the 'enemy' are scorned, the victory of winning is nothing but a hollow one that is 'unholy', 'impure' and a sacrilege to the party's causes.

People in detention WANT OUT. They want OUT of Parliament the bastards who are locking them up. They have no time left in life to be sanctimonious and precious about how to throw the bastards OUT.

We need to do it for them with the best methods of ACHIEVING that aim, rather than ONLY with the most 'politically' pure ones that have been given the imprimatur of the political 'Police'.

It is a racialist tendency to make 'colours' the shibboleth of political rectitude, and it is typical of the major party unction by which patriotism and the flag are suborned by bastards to con the incompetent into taking up a righteous indignation instead of working together with all the interests in opposition to trounce the hypocrites and power - mongers who are selling the country down the drain and unto the bosom of globalised militarism and the inevitable shredding of human rights that this always entails.

The government that gave Australia Tampa and the Pacific solution is the government that supports war on Iraq, and within Palestine. Those concerned about the destruction, murder and human rights abuses in Iraq and Palestine, and/or about mayhem and murder in Israel want to end Australia's complicity in supporting the war in Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and its State terror. Who cares what a party's aim is EXCEPT those in it or voting for it! IF it matters that much, join them and reform them, rather than regale all potential minor party voters, and the communities that want the Australian government defeated so that the necessary changes be made to Australia's domestic and foreign policy, with the stunning news that some of the voting preferences deals already made by a rival minor party and the Labor Opposition involve tactics that are capable of splintering the Howard Liberal Party "broad church".

The tactics needed to get those in detention OUT and to reform Australian domestic and foreign policy does require expediency. One minor party junking the so-called 'principles' of another minor party is to be accepted as the currency of party politics. But it is irrelevant to the task of achieving the capacity to compel the end of detention, or substantial changes in policy. If you think that the tactics of a minor party will fail to do this, then criticise them for that failing and leave their 'colours' and 'principles' on the scrap heap of colonialism where they belong.

The Howard hegemony needs to be splintered, and that (even if unpalatable) means the Liberal "broad church" of which Howard is so proud needs to be made into a sectarian nightmare for him. If you don't have what it takes to do the work needed to fractionate the Liberal congregation into its individual 'seagull' constituencies, with all their foul and belligerent in-fighting placed up on the roof for all to see, then get a life and leave the task to the players who have the capacity to make the impact needed, whether that be the Labor Opposition or whoever - carping about irrelevancies is grist to Howard's mill.

The Democrats said: "The Democrats have stated we are taking a neutral approach to both ALP and Lib in the House of Reps as a way of emphasising that it is the voter who decides where their preferences go." Is there some issue here being smothered by the rationale immediately given?

THE RATIONALE: "The only way you can vote for John Howard (or his party) is if you fill in the ballot paper that way,

no one else can force you to vote for him." Is it the intimation that John Howard is a "Rep's" man, and therefore the Senate arrangements don't come into the issue, which is the bother?

If so, then where has it ever been said? Does it always really follow that arranging preferences for the "above the line" votes by putting candidates in a reverse hierarchy of merit achieves the purpose of the preferential system, which is to increase in descending order the chances of the candidates so preferred?

This may be the case by definition for those who most diligently follow their own lights. But for those who legitimately leave the choice of all preferences to the party of their choice (whatever be the merits of that system as a means to express the choices of the individual voter), it needs to be understood by the individual not so doing, but criticising the choices of any party, that the system of "above the line" voting empowers a party to use the additional power of the individual vote as part of a group package in a new way to achieve the sole purpose of the party in winning the vote.

The strategy for the party is get its candidate(s) elected. It is not relevant to the purpose of the party in getting elected that those who prefer another party or other candidates disagree with the strategy being effected. An advantage of an "above the line" order of preferences is that it gives a party the chance to best marshall by a block voting strategy the additional powers given to it by those who are unwilling to make the tactical decisions (and for whatever reasons) as to how best to ensure their first preference candidates are elected.

Those who disagree simply vote in the order of their own preferences. In not agreeing they should realise that the block voting power they may contribute to a party of their choice is being exercised by themselves as a block of one (1).

That they disagree with any party about how their block of one (1) is a better utilisation of the strategic power to vote by block, is just about that, the power and political advantage of their own choice to vote by the block they determine.

If a voter disagrees with the strategy of a party, and the voter is a member of that party, they can do one of two things: vote below the line according to their block of one (1) and leave it at that (or as a Democrat has openly explained - vote with a party "above the line" as an insurance); or vote with a party "above the line", but also have made sure they have already participated in the decision making within that party prior to the specific strategy being adopted.

Belly-aching about what a party has done, without being a member, when the evident complaint seems solely to be about a preferences strategy that the party has implemented for "above the line" voters, is rather pointless, unless aimed at dissuading other voters less likely to weigh the full implications of their vote that they should follow the suit of a particular block of one (1), or another party also disagreeing.

If the complaint is from another party's members, isn't that to be seen as completely accepted and just part of the tactics being employed at every level in all parties to get out their own message to the "above the line" voters, that they should choose their 'block' party according to the block strategy being proselytised?

If this is the case then individual criticism is no more than a political advert for an order of preferences that is different than the order of preferences of the party(s) criticised. That being said, just what is the problem that the Greens perceive the Democrats to have, given the way that the Muslim community is being dragged into the politicisation of the Christian sectarian vote?

The disgruntled Democrats seem to have left, and left Australia with a GST. The individual voter can afford to be vindicating in preferences to score against the likes of those whom have saddled us with unfair legislation and public policy, as the priority of their block of one (1).

It would be irresponsible for a party to behave in a like fashion. A party has to account for the commitment of those who choose it to make the best use of the 'block' power they vest in it by voting for it "above the line".

This requires the party to have the forward-looking sense to make the best choices for the future, and not seek to have a result that is properly a vindication for the unfairness of the past. Those who estimate that they may both seek to make the best future, and in balance, to make their choice vindicate for the unfairness of the past, are those for whom choosing individual preferences is inescapable.

But not all voters feel as capable of making this decision for the better, let alone the best, when having to balance the past with the future, and it is as legitimate for them to vest that capacity in a party of their own choosing to empower it to concentrate on the strategy that will best ensure the future is not like the past, as it is for any party to undertake a strategy in reliance on this trust of the voters to see that the like is achieved, rather than to see that the unfairness of the past is judged, by the outcome of preferences, to be what it has most unfairly been.

Whatever the true reason for the uphill battle of the Democrats, it is inescapable they must use every resource, including the best 'block' voting strategy, to attract voters from each inclination alike - the ones who vote as a block of one (1), and those who will trust them to make the best block decision to get the most Democrats elected everywhere.

Alleging a 'mistake' in the allocation of party 'preferences' solely on a moral ground is not evidencing a political mistake. The election will evidence the error of political decisions. If the assertion of a 'mistake' is moral, rather than political, in its connection with achieving the object of the preferences, it is the legitimate objection of a potential voter who is not attracted by the block in question, but whose choice is irrelevant by definition to the strategy underlying the party's decision, unless that decision itself has alone been made on moral grounds.

The Democrats have made it trenchantly clear that they are looking to the future and not to obtaining a fair vindication of past wrongs as a principle to guide them. Whoever doesn't like this, they have their remedy. If it is acceptable to enough of the electorate, their choice of strategy will be vindicated.

But to seriously question "at what cost?" on moral grounds, is to confuse the issues that need to be addressed by the candidates to be elected, with the best way to see that a particular party maximises its chances to be a party at the discussion in Parliament about those issues with the most members it can get elected. It is no reasonably fair criticism to complain that this is likely to be obtained at the expense of other parties more intent on being vindicated about the issues that have been unfair in the past. That is the choice of the other parties to make, and for the voters to choose among.

The Greens need to be sure that their votes hurt Howard at every chance they have to be counted. If they are confident that this is being achieved by the preference deals they have done, then they will reap the benefits.

But despite their need to attract as many voters as possible to see that they win as many seats as they can, and get as many Senators elected as they can, in the end they are not going to sweep the slate clean and consequently some of their votes are either going to get other parties candidates elected, or their votes will NOT count in the final outcome.

It is reasonable for reasonable people to consider this outcome from a different perspective than the Greens, and when voting to allot their preferences differently to the deals made by the Greens.

This may be against the party line. But surely the Greens should be grateful for each vote it gets, and respect the intelligence of voters who see a different likely outcome than the euphoric ambition of the Greens, and whose preferences are according to how they see what counts in defeating the Howard coalition government and to change Australia's policies.

PER Patrick Byrt Patrick_Byrt@fcl.fl.asn.au

By Patrick Byrt 28 September 04


Glenn Million: Why Neo-liberals are set to implode (again)
AS if the Neo-Liberal Coalition didn't have enough trouble. A quick re-cap: under John Howard they embrace a GST - a move that eventually forces the Democrats and Greens against him. That's followed by a collective act of dictatorship they jail Pauline Hanson. They dump One Nation leaders in jail - as racist, unworthy and flawed - but above all criminal, right at the time when the Liberal party is running to the last election, and desperate to stay in power.

Annan tells world leaders to respect law
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan has made an impassioned plea to bring about the rule of law across the globe today. Mr Annan told world leaders to respect international law at home and abroad.

Crean slaps down Costello's 'incompetent' tax analysis
The Federal Labor Party says Treasurer Peter Costello has egg on his face after making wrong allegations that Labor's tax and family policy is under-funded by $700 million.

Howard wanted to meet-Al Qaeda leader
John Howard wanted to meet the man described as an architect of 9/11 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed one month before the attacks in the US.

Wentworth voters turn to the Greens: poll
A new opinion poll published today shows voters in the blue ribbon Sydney seat of Wentworth are turning away from the Liberal Party just like everybody else. The party has held the eastern suburbs seat for 103 years and that's far too long.

Defence people need to vote for the Greens
Caretaker Prime Minister John Howard will today unveil a plan to step up the fight against terrorism in the region, using specialist teams of Australian Federal Police (AFP) that could be sent to work in neighbouring countries.

Howard should reconsider preferences: Lees
Senator Lees says Prime Minister John Howard should reconsider the Liberal Party's decision on preferences.

Iraq war illegal, says Annan
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan says the United States decision to invade Iraq in March 2003 was "illegal". Australia was a key supporter of the war on Iraq and sent troops to join the United States-led invasion last year.

Cancel the election and call a republic
Industrial relations in Australia under the Howard administration are no different from what might be expected from a terrorist organisation since both are engaged in the lawless pursuit of short-term profit and personal gain to the exclusion of natural justice.

John Anderson suffering from delusions
Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson is suffering delusions of grandeur on a Neo-Liberal Coalition scale, endorsing comments describing leader Bob Brown as a "nut". But the question is who is the nut really?

Brown warns against voting for Coalition in Senate
Greens leader Bob Brown is predicting his party will attract one million votes in the forthcoming federal election but that's an understatement.

BREAKTHROUGH AS DFAT TAKES STEPS FOR GUANTANAMO BAY POSTAL VOTE As the electoral rolls closed, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed that they have faxed David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib postal vote application forms, Australian Greens Member for Cunningham Michael Organ said.

PM may be hung in Parliament?
John Howard the rodent may be voted the worst Prime Minister in Australia's History and his portrait hung in parliament.

Major parties urged to reveal adequate climate change policies
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says the major political parties are yet to reveal adequate policies on climate change as they campaign for next month's federal election.

Community Newspoll
We ask the question which party will you vote for this Federal Election?

Governance a misfortune to experience
As an employee with the Australian government agency Centrelink my job was to interpret Australian law to determine entitlements for Australian citizens.

Cheesed-off voter tells PM he's past his best
Prime Minister John Howard "Scumbo" has been visiting the marginal seat of Richmond on the New South Wales far north coast. It is held by the National Party's Larry Anthony by a margin of just 1.7 per cent.

Democrats call for improved accountability
The Democrats are calling for greater political accountability and protection of whistleblowers, in their first policy package of the election campaign.

Latham stands by Scrafton in children overboard affair
The Federal Government lies and John Howard's integrity is in the sewer after attempts to discredit a defence whistleblower over allegations he did not tell the truth before the last election.

The federal Coalition has stepped up its attack on the Australian Greens.

Greens, Democrats to swap Senate preferences
The Australian Greens and the Democrats have struck a deal to exchange Senate preferences at the federal election.

Un-Australian Polling Pill Boosts Illusions
The Howard Government is a 'claw in the back' not "clawed back" with today's Newspill revealing the Coalition and the Un-Australian Newspaper are ready to pounce on the primary vote.