Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Politics: Voting in Tasmania, Senate

I like our federal system; which has a senate that is based around the representation of interest groups as opposed to representation of specific geographic areas.   For Tassie this year we have an interesting line-up, some of the usual suspects and some very left field candidates, some of who didn't bother to provide any contact details at all the to Australian Electoral Commission. It looks like this will be a 'number them all below the line' election.  I'm predictably a conservative voter but am interested by the range of parties contesting the election and who is and isn't putting in the effort. The Senate ballot paper is as follows:
  • First up the Senator On-line party, advertising itself as the first party of the interwebs, which made the lack of an email address for our Tasmanian candidates on the AEO page all the more strange.  At the moment they don't seem like a serious option.
  • Then the Australian Democrats.  I like parties that stand for something, in their old guise their role of watchdogs seemed valuable but I think ultimately their slightly left of centre platform has been overshadowed by the Greens. 
  • For the Liberal Party it's some of the usual suspects, Abetz, Parry and then Barnett.  I like Barnett, he's personable and not afraid to state where he'll stand firm and where he'll bend, one of the advantages of being a senator I guess.  Abetz always responds to our letters and has advocated for Christians who are being persecuted overseas but often seems sidetracked by the forestry issue. I wish Barnett had topped the list because the way preferences work he's lucked out by being at the bottom of the list, he also helpfully put together Making a difference: A practical guide to lobbying.
  • Lisa Sigh from the Labour Party must also be cursing her luck, by appearing at the bottom of the Labour ticket. She lost her seat at the state election and is now having a tilt at the senate. Labour will probably win the House of Representatives so to keep everyone honest I won't be voting Labour very highly either at the Senate level.  Somewhat annoyingly and strangely the Labour candidates are listed separately, Polley, Urquhart and Sighn
  • While I feel like I'm becoming a single issue voter, I'm very wary of single issue parties.  The Shooters and Fishers Party are the next party on the list. I'm no pacifist and so am not opposed to access to weapons but I don't like fishing, maybe Mikey should vote for them!
  • Chrisine Milne from the Greens ends up holding positions or saying things I generally I don't agree with.  Amusingly, although not for Penelope, the Greens website doesn't even bother mentioning Penelope Ann the other Green candidate! I think it's possible to care for the environment without voting for the Greens.
  • As an Anglican minister I'll probably won't be voting for the Secular Party of Australia, who have quite a well organized website. Secularism sometimes works, Australia Post should be able to equitably deliver parcels to both Buddhist temples and Christian churches. However what are secular values, aren't values intangible?  What moral system do these values presuppose? etc 
  • The Democratic Labour Party are the remnant of a Labour splinter group. They've never had much success in Tasmania, interestingly their preferences in Victoria helped get Steve Fielding into the Senate.  
  • Family First are running two candidates in Tassie this election.  I was annoyed neither candidate bothered to provide contact details and Steve Fielding acts more like a politician seeking re-election then a principled conservative. I think Family First are only running candidates to keep their name on the ballot paper, their website doesn't even mention them! 
  • The Climate Skeptics are another single issue party and while I admire their skepticism, they're never going to get much political traction, maybe they think justing getting the name onto the ballot paper is enough to make people think but then why bother be a political party if your not going to get anywhere? 
  • Dino Ottavi is the only independent running in this Tasmanian Senate election.  I remember fondly the days of Brian Harridine giving the major parties trouble, I also like the fact he had a large family and was softly but firmly spoken.  I have no idea who or what Dino stands for, Google wasn't a lot of help.