Saturday, October 9, 2004

Prospect of Family First senator

1) The ABC's Antony Green is not taking for granted a three (3) Liberal Senators outcome for SA.

2) Is Antony reasonable in claiming the Family First "chance depends on a surplus from the Liberal quotas?

3) The chances of Family First displacing the Greens for a fourth 'conservative' seat are mainly to do with the % who vote 'conservative' rather than a direct flow of preferences from the Democrats to Family First rather than to the Greens.

4) The general appeal in part of the Democrats is that they pull votes from the 'conservative' electors as well as from those who don't want to vote Labor No 1.

5) On Antony's rationale if the Democrats do contribute to the pull down of the 'conservative' vote, then implicitly Family First will be adversely affected as they are a 'conservative' competitor.

6) If the excess in the Labor quota is to go to the Greens, and Labor increases more than the pro rata increase from an increase in the number of electors as unweighted by any increase in the informal vote, then the excess quota going to the Greens should put the Greens above the Family First quota score plus the Liberal excess.

7) The issue for the Democrats has been whether any increase in the Labor excess going to the Greens will be significantly adverse to the Democrat quota score.

8) If the pull from the 'conservative' vote doesn't reach its former flow to the Democrats, but goes to the FF and/or (but less likely) One Nation, and the flow to the Democrats from those who may not have wished to put Labor 1st declines, with this going to the Greens and/or Labor itself,then the Greens preferences to the Democrats may be adequate to get the Democrats elected on the fulfillment of two prior conditions

- a) Family First combined quota scores (inc. from the Liberals) is less than the Democrats;and,

- b) the Greens quota score (inc. Labor excess) doesn't match the Democrats quota score after the elimination of all the rest except for the Greens and the Family First.

9) The scenario above is a win for the 'progressives' because their votes will elect someone 'progressive' and the 'conservative' vote is wasted as insufficient.

10) The fear factor is that the 'conservative' vote will get up, because of the 'fear' scenario that the combined Labor excess and the Greens own quota score (inc. those first to be eliminated) either will be less than the Democrats quota but insufficient to give the Democrats the edge over Family First (inc. the Liberals excess), or will be just enough or more than enough to eliminate the Democrats themselves but insufficient to then trounce Family First, because (FF) will gain the Democrats quota score.

11) The proper question in light of the previous election results and taking into account the Antony Green analysis, is whether such an outcome, if it were to occur, might well have been properly avoided by the Democrats by a different preference deal (without any impact on the likelihood of the Democrats attracting 'conservative' votes as well as the votes of those who may not wish to put Labor 1st), or whether the appearance of such an outcome may be more to do with the substantive grounds on which electors choose to vote in the light, both of the preference deals previously advertised by particular parties (which admittedly is perhaps likely to be low compared to other more prominent grounds to do with 'image' or 'message' of a party), and the 'general trend' towards a 'conservative' vote (inc. the FF, but less likely to inc.the Democrats) rather than towards a 'progressive' vote for change (inc.the Democrats).

12) Unless there is some substantial reason to suppose that the generalvoting trend is irrelevant to the determination of a such a question in the instant case, and which is yet to be articulated, it may be as well to conclude that the outcomes being feared, are not unreasonable, but are still not of sufficient merit to be maintained in public without first estimating the general impact on the credibility of the 'progressive' 'image' and 'message' to the electorate by agitating the issue in any condemnatory way leading up to the decision-making days closer to the vote.

13) That a fear is not an unreasonable suspicion, may not be sufficient consideration to lose nerve and shift the focus from a range of'progressive' alternatives to the vicissitudes of a bickering antagonism between two parties that have otherwise agreed to a preference deal. The doing down of one, even if justified to the other, may only serve ultimately to be a form of self-fulfilling prophecy in as far as it may assist to formulate a 'conservative' trend prior to the election in reaction to an obvious incapacity in the 'progressive' parties to be seen to be able to continue with some 'image' or working together on a coherent and substantively similar 'message'.

14) What should not be overlooked is the message from the Indigenous contributors to the debate, like Tom Trevorrow, who have no party axe to sharpen, that respect is missing in the public operation of 'conservative' politics. If 'progressive' parties cannot maintain at least the 'image' of respect, apart from the necessity for the 'message' of respect, how can either the Greens or the Democrats in the 'progressive' group be seen to be asking people to do what they do rather than be seen asking people notto do what they do, but do what they say? And if so, how can the electors easily see either or both as 'progressive' except on what they say they are?

15) The advice is that appealing to people to vote against lies, requires that the hubbub of hypocrisy and the blame games of bickering, be avoided for the greater good, and for the greater good even at the expense of tactical advantage based on the reasonable suspicion that the general voting trend is looming 'conservative' and therefore 'progressives' should be all hanging together to avoid hanging separately.

16) If there are difficulties in accepting the bona fides of another' progressive', the need to avoid public hypocrisy and the appearance of direct misrepresentation to the electorate may be paramount, and indeed essential, for honesty in policy presentation. It's what parties do that equals what they say, and what they say they do.

17) However, being rash and hastily making a clean-breasted sweep of the insufferability of the 'other' in the 'progressive' camp, is a recipe to make clear to the more discerning of the wavering pro-government voter, that a protest vote may be less effective than conceived, and therefore not be any practical way to object to some part of government policy, because its implementation would be more likely to have quite a critical outcome, not for the government, but for the settlement of an acrimonious dispute among the 'progressive' parties. For those who wish to vote down the government in the Senate as a safeguard, helping 'progressives' resolve any issue may be a very much lesser attraction, if not plainly antipathetic to their rationale in voting away from government.

18) In such circumstances, and more so were there to be a general trend to 'conservative' voting, the protest vote may simply go to FF and/or One Nation and exacerbate the problem being publicly agitated rather than lessen the overall vote for the government, and irrespective of the claim that in any case a vote for one 'progressive' party is not a vote against the government because its preferences may well see that a 'conservative'is elected.

By Patrick Byrt 9 October 04

Patrick T. Byrt e-mail: 

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