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Deconstructing far-right obstacles to Australian progressivism

By Denis Bright

Revisiting the 2016 Federal Election Results

From small primary votes at the 2016 federal elections, candidates from the religious right and the secular right played a vital role in protecting marginal LNP seats. Family First, Christian Democrats (Fred Nile Group) and Australian Christians were the main standard bearers for the religious right.

Additional preferences were usually needed from other far-right parties such as the Liberal Democrats, Rise Up Australia, the Australian Liberty Alliance and of course the perennial Australian Recreational Fishers’ Party.

The slender absolute majority of the federal LNP in the House of Representatives can be attributed to the discipline of preference allocations from both the religious right and the secular right in the thirteen currently most marginal LNP seats.

All thirteen seats were retained by the LNP with a margin of less than three percent after preferences.

The Key Marginals

Michelle Landry’s lead in Australia’s most marginal LNP electorate of Capricornia amounted to 1 111 after preferences. A Labor win in Capricornia was offset by 1 751 votes from Family First with a primary vote of 5.16 percent. A creditable 61.49 percent of the Family First’s primary vote went to the LNP.

2016 Polling Day Revisited in Bass Electorate (Tas)

In the potentially Labor heartland electorate of Forde on the southern outskirts of Brisbane, the combined vote of Family First and the Australian Liberty Alliance accounted for 9.05 percent of the primary vote. This primary vote delivered an additional 4,573 votes to the sitting Liberal member. This was over four times the slender winning margin in Forde for the LNP.

In the NSW South Coast electorate of Gilmore, 71.53 percent of the preferences from the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) delivered 3 691 votes to the LNP. This was twice the LNP’s victory margin in Gilmore after preferences.

One of the big surprises of the election count was the close result for the LNP in the electorate of Flynn that stretches from Gladstone to the Central West of Queensland. In Flynn, 60.29 percent distribution of primary votes from Family First allocated 1,310 in extra votes to the LNP.

The problem for sitting LNP member Ken O’Dowd in Flynn was the low primary vote of 2.49 percent achieved by Family First. The LNP primary vote had declined by 8.96 percent to 37.06 percent. A lot of ground had to be made up through the distribution of preferences.

Labor’s Zac Beers with 33.39 percent of the primary vote was still 3.67 percentage points behind the LNP’s Ken O’Dowd.

The big shock in Flynn was the extraordinary One Nation vote of 17.15 percent. This was five times the primary vote for Katter’s Australian Party of 3.38 percent.

Apart from the net loss in preferences from Family First, Labor gained just a few millimetres from the even-handed preference allocations from voters who selected One Nation or Katter’s Australian Party. The combined gift was a net gain of 34 votes to Zac Beers.

It was the Greens who kept Labor in the race for Flynn with 79.55 percent of preferences but from a small primary vote of 2.77 percent or a net gain of 1 428 votes after preferences.

The Greens or Labor needed an extra percent of the primary vote to close the gap in Flynn.

The alternative was a better flow of preferences from One Nation to Labor from the 50.05 percent achieved in Flynn to above 55 percent as achieved in Longman (56.49 percent).

In Australia’s fifth most marginal LNP seat of Robertson on the Central Coast of NSW in the Gosford Region, primary votes from the Christian Democrat Party (Fred Nile Group) of 2.66 percent, the Liberal Democrats (1.41 percent) and the Antipaedophile Party (1.60 percent) were sufficient to protect the LNP’s Lucy Wicks as the sitting member.

In the next eight electorates below the selected three percent winning quota, the combination of preferences delivered by the LNP from fundamentalist Christian parties and other far-right groups such as Rise Up Australia and the Liberal Democrats offered the winning edge to sitting LNP members.

These electorates are Chisholm, Dunkley, Banks, La Trobe, Dickson (held by Peter Dutton), Petrie (Qld), Hasluck in WA and Page in NSW.

The marginal electorate of Grey (SA) was not included in this analysis because the final contest was between the LNP and the candidates from the Nick Xenophon Party (NXT).

Success in these thirteen seats would have increased Labor’s representation to 82 and reduced LNP numbers to 63 seats.

The numbers of votes involved in generating these changes to results in the thirteen selected marginal electorates would probably have been too insignificant to change the distribution of parties in the senate. The combined LNP margin in these thirteen seats amounted to 31 798 or 0.235 per cent of the national vote.

In its haste to attribute the near demise of Prime Minister Turnbull to the rise of One Nation, the mainstream media conveniently overlooks the absence of One Nation as a big player in determining the results in any of the thirteen marginal seats. It was only in the electorate of Flynn that One Nation achieved a significant primary vote of 17.15 per cent. In this electorate, One Nation actually brought a miniscule net gain of fourteen votes to the Labor candidate after preference distribution.

The very minor parties from the religious and secular right that were the big players in determining the final outcomes of Election 2016.

Should problems with the political mix of the senate result in an early House of Representatives and half-senate election, some minor parties will be the big losers in the senate as the quota for the election of senators rises to 14.29 percent.

One Nation can expect to lose one senator in WA and NSW. Family First should lose its SA senator and the Liberal Democrats should shed one senator in NSW.

However, all these minor right-wing parties with the additional public funding and resources from their 2016 results might be crucial in building up the LNP senate vote in every mainland state.

The increase in influence of minor right-wing religious and secular parties continues to be embedded in the wider problem of Australian political apathy. A more informed electorate should question the legitimacy of political groups, which take public funding but only emerge from hibernation at election time.

The Challenge of Voter Apathy

The mainstream media panders to this apathy. It is obsessed by the news value of easy to arrange and colourful interviews with representatives from One Nation.

Under-resourced public and corporate media networks do not have the time and resources to investigate the real underlying challenges to Australian democracy. These challenges have little to do with perceived terrorist threats and highlight the need for preventative mental health services for individuals with pathological tendencies.

Voter apathy is a bigger challenge to Australian democracy as it produces election results and leaders who are out of touch with day to day problems faced by constituents.

The post-election estimates from the AEC on the extent of failure to complete electorate enrolments on 30 September 2016 amounted to 768,097 or 4.6 per cent of eligible Australian voters.

These are just best estimates as many Australians have never enrolled to vote. There is a naïve belief in some sub-cultures that non-enrolment poses challenges to both legal authorities and debt collectors in finding addresses. The precise number of non-enrolled voters is unknown.

Pre-enrolment at 16 years of age during senior high school and optional voting at 17 years might assist in challenging high levels of voter apathy.

From the 15.78 million Australians who were enrolled to vote on 30 September 2016, the level of informal voting (either intentionally or through error) amounted to 720,915 or 4.57 per cent of enrolled electors.

Estimates of the combined level of non-participation in Australian democracy is probably around 20 per cent of eligible voters.

Professor Ariadne Vromen of the Department of Government and International Relations at University of Sydney has published some ground-breaking work on these challenges to political participation in a fast-moving and stressful consumer society.

As in other countries across Europe from Britain to Italy, mainstream centre and centre-left political parties are in need of serious reform to meet the challenges of the globalization era. Voters overseas are giving political groups like Cinque Stelle in Italy a chance to out-trump the US President-elect himself.

A progressive victory to reclaim Australia for the political centre or centre-left is highly possible. It requires democratic renewal from within the Labor Movement at an industrial and political level.

Bill Shorten must challenge the institutional fiefdoms within the Labor Movement which are crude forms of political elitism.

Another serious problem is the phoney war between the Labor Movement and the Green Party at election time. The Green Party delivers so many seats to Labor. It is not afraid to question the profound militarism that has crept into Australian foreign policy.

In our workplaces and regular conversations, political activists should tactfully talk-up their political commitments. The notion that politics is an exclusively private matter should always be challenged. Australians are not yet living in the political equivalent of Vichy France.

Just raising topical and controversial issues is highly appropriate. Just asking the right questions is even recommended by Loon Pond in this remake of Scott Morrison in a profoundly 1930s style.

Is this supposedly family-friendly Scott Morrison indeed the heir-apparent if our prime minister decides to resign in 2017 or happens to be deposed in another LNP coup?

This would indeed be a quantum leap towards a more authoritarian future for Australia in the old traditions of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons.


Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.



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  1. win jeavons

    I want to tell you here that many practising Christians Abhor the narrow judgmental cold hearted attitudes of the “Christian” lobby which seems to stand for all that Christ condemned and seek to punish those he loved . Being religious is easy, following Jesus much more demanding of our openness and unstinting compassion. Whited sepulchres?

  2. TruckiPete (@TruckiPete)

    Want to get the right politicians, instead of idiots like Hanson, Hinch & the Greens? Abolish compulsory voting! Then those that are actually interested in the future of Australia will be the majority of voters. (not those who think a $2 tax cut is the answer to economic nirvana)

  3. king1394

    Somehow the ‘Family First’ and various Christian parties still gain votes from people who think that they will protect and promote the particular needs of families with children, who hope for a safe and secure world to bring up their children. The words ‘family’ and ‘Christian’ are not analysed by many of their voters who take these as read. Around the country their candidates and poll workers put forward a message that family needs will be priorities. Having scrutineered at the last election my experience at one polling booth where some 1500 votes were counted, showed that there is leakage of preferences from the recommended right wing parties. However, most people do follow the How to Vote card recommendations. think that there can be a pull-back from these parties if their voters realise that they are basically fronts for the Liberal/National Party.

    The Fishers / Recreationalists / motorist type parties are also very weak when it comes to real delivery of their voters’ expectations. Get the message out that the ALP and Greens also respect the general needs of these people and their votes will come back.
    Currently there is a very strong belief among recreational users of natural areas that the only policy of the Green party and the ALP is to close off the bush and leave it entirely to bushwalkers and Aboriginal interests – any suggestion that an area will become a national park or reserve is seen as another place that is being locked up. This is of course not true, but there is no effort made by the Greens / ALP to talk about the importance of meeting the needs of bush users while maintaining the integrity of natural areas.

    What is really being illustrated is that there are a substantial number of people across the country who will base their votes on these issues and who fail to recognise that they are being duped.

  4. Steve Laing

    TruckiPete – I agree. If people are either disinterested, or if they donkey vote, how do they actually contribute to the political discourse? Of course such people are more likely to vote for candidates who are “recognisable”, or those who appeal emotionally (fear and hate), or who like to pick the winner.

    It would, of course, be interesting to know why such people choose not to vote, however the only current legal choice is to turn up and intentionally spoil your ballot, and this option is neither reported on nor suggested as a valid option to register your discontent.

  5. Matters Not

    the quota for the election of senators rises to 16.83 percent.

    Don’t think so. (Number of formal ballot papers / (Number of senators to be elected + 1)) rounded down + 1 = Senate quota

    Therefore: (No of electors – let say 100%)/ No of vacancies – 6 plus 1 to make 7) PLUS 1 = quota (approximately 14.286%)

    But it will be a steep climb for Roberts and other PHON.

  6. nimbinensis

    Typo in the heading

  7. Participatory

    Presents a good case for not taking too much notice of repetitive news bulletins which are heavily influenced by political insiders

  8. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks to Matters Not: As explained by the AEC the Quota is 14.286 percent:

    Example of determining a Senate quota
    This is how the quota for NSW was calculated at the 2013 Senate election.

    (4 376 143 / (6 + 1)) + 1 = 625 164

    Therefore the quota, or number of votes required to be elected, in NSW at the 2013 federal election was 625 164.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    “The increase in influence of minor right-wing religious and secular parties continues to be embedded in the wider problem of Australian political apathy. A more informed electorate should question the legitimacy of political groups, which take public funding but only emerge from hibernation at election time.”

    Denis’ above quote is an immediate step that can be challenged legally through the higher echelons of the Electoral Commission for why such new far-right and religious parties don’t disclose their true characters within a time frame that the electorate can discern their authenticity.

    Another concept I could consider is the strictly overseen possibility of non-compulsory voting for certain members of society who have a conscientious objection to voting. If they have the will to express that objection, then they may be authentic objectors, as opposed to stupid and lazy. I would be hopeful that this would reduce the percentage of deliberate donkey votes done as a form of protest.

    Denis, I applaud you for quantifying the preferences that provided the narrow win of the LNP Degenerates.

    Funny huh, how the LNP Degenerates were prepared to build bridges with RWNJs with narrow agendas while Labor failed to see the benefits of building bridges with its own natural born allies in the Greens, diverse Progressives and sane Independents.

    I remain VERY angry at Labor for sending us into prison with harsh conditions for another THREE long years.

    But then, I remember those in their cushy Labor electorates, don’t need to care about the rest of us disposables suffering all those LNP reductive exploitations. Does Labor still have a pulse?

    Go The ALLiance of Greens,
    renewed/breathing/reborn Labor
    Progressive Parties far and wide
    sane and committed Independents.

  10. Maria

    Our media should be reporting specifically on how these right wing parties vote in the House and the Senate rather than giving them air time to talk about their favourite topics. It is unusual now for journalists to challenge politicians to explain their voting behaviour.

  11. Leila Smith

    Another great article Denis, pleased you have provided such detail about how the electorate works.
    People tend only to be interested in discussing politics when they see it very directly impacting on their lives.
    Many people don’t like to,discuss politics openly and that is their right,as it can be very controversial when different views are held. People have enough concerns without taking on extra controversy.
    Well written article Denis, thanks for the work

  12. Jacki

    Too much air time is given to Pauline Hanson to portray her divisive views because the other right wing minor parties are not as colourful and headline catching as she is .

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Leila and Jacki,

    any ideas on how to capture discussion from such ordinary Aussies with ordinary needs and wants like me but just a different way of expressing it?

  14. wam

    Our media are in for ratings which depend on audience which depends on 20 sec slogans no policy no time to think just react.
    Make up interesting stories with a modicum of truth. Then, like the rabbott, be prepared to spruik themon the morning shows and bob’s your uncle.
    the diludbransims are too pragmatic, too greedy and not up to the nats so a coalition is out.

    Surely the inept will drop out at 100/7% plus 1 vote?????

  15. Craig

    Pauline Hanson and One Nation are just saying what a lot of people want to say. Unfortunately we are not as progressive as we think we are.

  16. Matters Not

    An amalgam:

    Abolish compulsory voting! … If people are either disinterested, or if they donkey vote, how do they actually contribute to the political discourse? Of course such people are more likely to vote for candidates who are “recognisable”,

    Make voting ‘optional’ and the ‘conservatives’ will win by an even bigger margin. That’s the ‘hard cold political reality’. It’s why the conservatives want it in Australia and why it’s so difficult to actually vote in the USA, when compared with Australia.

    As for the ‘principle’, why is it so onerous that citizens in a democracy are required to turn up at a polling station once every three/four years and have their name ticked off? For citizens, surely it’s much more onerous to pay taxes, appear in court when charged with (serious) traffic offences, pay rates, speak to police when they knock at your door, and so on. In short there’s any number of ‘chores’, citizens must do apart from voting.

    One can see what happens when voting is optional (and difficult), a small minority will get you ‘trumped’.

  17. wam

    your amalgam filled a few caries???

  18. Athena

    It isn’t just the politicians who are out of touch. Many Australians don’t know their left from their right and are voting against their own best interests. That’s the problem when more emphasis is placed on what politicians say, rather than their actions, and when voters only tune into politics at election time. I seldom read MSM or watch tv. I still manage to know what our politicians are doing.

    The conservatives would love to abolish compulsory voting. They know that when voting is voluntary, the people who are more likely to be apathetic and abstain have left leaning values. It still doesn’t prevent clueless people from voting either. Take a good look at the comments from One Nation supporters on social media and ask them questions. They seem to be focused solely on what Pauline Hanson says. They are totally oblivious to the fact that Ms Anti-Establishment is voting with the LNP most of the time and is voting against the best interests of her voter base.

  19. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Who and why are “the diludbransims too pragmatic, too greedy”? Otherwise, your comment makes a lot of sense about the 20 second grabs for media.

    If we went down that route in The ALLiance, there would need to be far more public forums in communities throughout Australia – and not just the marginal seats such as Western Sydney.

    Morwell is a prime place to build local support for brave new socio-economic ventures based on renewable energy industries, alternative and sustainable development, innovative public transport, cultural developments and the list goes on.

    As communities come to see The ALLiance turn up on a regular basis, they will be better inspired to take an active interest in the issues and the policies that will pull them out of this LNP drudgery. Hence, they will want to use their votes sensibly.

  20. John Brame

    Interesting reads commentors, I’m with you JMS, an ALLiance is sorely needed.

  21. Arthur Tarry

    Another very informative article from Denis, thank you. Political apathy and ignorance is embedded in the community particularly if you include the ‘rusted on’. How can you discuss anything with people who believe climate change is a conspiracy, or just simply don’t understand the detail of anything ? Some people in my community think that Barnaby is a straight talker and right, and there is still reference amongst them for the Bjelke era. Only in Queensland !

  22. helvityni

    ” Go The ALLiance of Greens,
    renewed/breathing/reborn Labor
    Progressive Parties far and wide
    sane and committed Independents.”

    I tend to agree with Jennifer M-S; in our family we already have an alliance of all kinds of progressives….Australia needs to go forward, NOT stay still or worse, go backwards.

    I also agree with Athena, there are too many people who are not interested in politics and hardly know whom they are voting for….

  23. Zathras

    The problem with people like Hanson is that she moans about what she doesn’t like but never says much about anything else.

    If she’s the voice of “ordinary Australians” what is it that they really want?
    All we know is what the louder ones don’t want.

    Putting CCTV cameras in Mosques and a Royal Commission into Islam is right up there with her solution of “why not just print more money?” to balance the budget last time she was here – uninformed aspirational nonsense, feeding off insecurities and prejudice.

    Unfortunately she needs to keep people angry all the time just to maintain her support and as long as the ignorant views of people like Malcolm Roberts (with his grand total of 77 primary Senate votes) remain unchallenged, confused as well.

  24. Participatory

    This article has shown how both the religious and non-religious far right parties are working successfully through preference allocations to keep a quite unrepresentative LNP government in power. Now it is time for the Progressive Alternatives to work together in a similar manner. Labor is afraid that the Greens are not politically respectable enough yet the Greens are delivering a fresh life to most ALP federal members through preference allocations. Only some ALP federal gain an absolute majority on primary votes alone. It is time to address this charade and learn from the LNP in electorates like Capricornia and Dickson. Here the LNP and the Far Right work co-operatively to control advances from the Centre-Left. I agree with helvityni. There unresolved political problem on the Centre-Left side of politics. Some Labor members are quite out of control in their dalliance with the Israeli lobbies through government funded propaganda tours to Israel and interactions with our own intelligence services at the highest levels of policy making. Expansion of preventative mental health services could address much of the local terrorist problem in Australia.Social divisions are also linked to youth unemployment and the absence of easy pathways to training through TAFE courses for less academically gifted youth. In the US, similar TAFE training courses at commercial colleges like motor mechanics courses and IT courses are simply unaffordable to disadvantaged families especially from recent Latino, Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds. It is right wing agendas which are widening these social and ethnic divides. I cannot imagine why a truly Family First Party could condone this nonsense in Australia as holy writ.

  25. Michael Taylor

    The problem with people like Hanson is that she moans about what she doesn’t like but never says much about anything else.

    That is spot on, Zathras.

    Time permitting, I’m hoping to write a post that says much the same. Do you mind if I used your quote?

  26. Terry2

    The Liberal Party are being very pragmatic or perhaps Machiavellian about their support of One Nation, some might even call it an alliance in the making.

    Pauline Hanson was originally pre-selected by the Liberals and her natural comfort zone is with the right wing of that party. It is this alliance that could save the coalition at the next federal election at the expense of Labor.

    As part of this government’s ‘whatever it takes’ strategy, it has agreed to continue a fifty year lease of 38 ha of prime land at Malabar Headland in NSW to the NSW Rifle Association at an annual rental fo $26,500. This was a surprise to residents of the area as last year, then environment minister Greg Hunt had promised to investigate alternate sites for the shooting range. Senator David Leyonhjelm is claiming this as a personal win following his intervention with the Turnbull government ; Leyonhjelm’s continued support for the coalition is now reasonably safe.

    No matter how we of the centre-left may spruik the abysmal failings of this government and their imminent demise we should never overlook the religious fervour of the far right to bring about their vision for Australia driven by the agenda of the IPA and their insistence that all power be transferred to corporations friendly to their narrow objectives.

  27. Sam

    Zathras on PH – “Unfortunately she needs to keep people angry all the time just to maintain her support”.
    Blaming others and being an exemplar of anger is the zeitgeist of the age, for some of our so-called leaders at least. Though to be fair, she is no different to any other SWJ I suppose.
    Perhaps if she looked at herself and identified the source of ‘her’ suffering it would end.
    Too much to dream of? It’s not impossible.
    For good reason peace and intelligence are of the same category.

  28. helvityni

    I don’t think the Libs are pragmatic at all, but agree that they are truly Machiavellian.

  29. Steve Laing -

    Right wing politicians everywhere are masters of Machiavellian tactics – divide and conquer – as it does work a treat in getting re-elected. Not much good for uniting a nation however, hence why economic sentiment often goes down, in spite of what the media constantly tells us. People spend when they are confident in the future, and don’t when they feel financially stressed – the latter being the conservative approach as it makes their core constituency of donors wealthier.

    I don’t buy the idea that voluntary voting helps progressives rather than conservatives. I suspect the opposite. But I do like the idea that it is compulsory to at least turn up at the voting station, and I think it would be useful to understand why people have decided not to support what is on offer. Otherwise we are just guessing. And you can’t improve things without facts.

  30. Zathras

    Michael Taylor,
    I’d be delighted if that sentiment could be picked up and expanded upon.
    Constantly saying “I don’t like it” may get her into power but won’t keep her there. Now that she’s on the Public Payroll she now needs to “put up or shut up”.

    I was also going to mention the ongoing shift to the Right in the context of Brexit and Trump.
    It’s a symptom of the dominant white society imagining it’s under constant threat and lashing out in the only way it can.

    We’ve just seen the traditional “War on Christmas” frenzy – as perennial as Christmas Carols – but after decades of the same alleged campaign, Christmas is still here.
    The fact that we have Nationally Gazetted Public Holidays specifically dedicated to Christianity and that we can freely attend Churches, publicly sing hymns and openly display related symbols and decorations just doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the imagined persecution and martyrdom that counts.

    Some people are simply addicted to outrage and look for it everywhere and there are politicians and some in the media who are all too willing to keep them supplied with as much as they need.

    Whether they have any answers to these imagined problems is something for them to demonstrate, not us by blindly following along.

  31. Jasper

    Thanks Denis for a different interpretation. The media over states the importance of Pauline Hanson. The media should be giving more attention to Christian and secular parties that have delivered government to the federal LNP.

    Many of the perceived terriorist problems in Australia are due to mental health which should be addressed by preventative health and support services. Federal mental health and community support cut-backs are appalling.

  32. Michael Taylor

    Jasper, I would add that rather than overstating the importance of Pauline Hanson, they actually make Pauline Hanson important.

  33. Steve Laing -

    “Righteous indignation!” – as you say Zathras, there are lots of people out there looking for any excuse to be outraged, and mostly over stuff which turns out to fall into the untruth category, whether its the whole Christmas/Happy holidays balderdash, Halal labelling funding terrorism, pictures of flags being banned from Facebook etc. And they never check whether such stories are true or not. If I ever see anyone I know posting such on Facebook, I will check first and then send them the link debunking the crap they are sharing. Its a small gesture, but if it helps make one person think before they share garbage in the future, then its something.

    I agree re Pauline Hanson. Its easy to sit on the fence and chuck rocks, but actually creating stuff (including legislation) is much harder to do. So let her come up with her plan, fully costed, of how she intends to put CCTV into every mosque in Australia, how it will be monitored and by whom (just where are we going to get all those people capable of translating Arabic, Indonesian, Pakistani, Malaysian etc, if not from the very communities that Pauline distrusts), and it won’t be long before people will recognise that all her ideas are just puff. The media love her, however, because she is perfect click bait for both supporters and detractors alike, and for them that is all that matters – the law of the market, no matter how dangerous it is for society, as long as they can sell advertising space. Unfortunately they won’t kill that golden goose although it would be extremely easy if they really had a mind to.

  34. nurses1968

    You have to hand it to Pauline,she knows how to play the electorate and most likely pick up more followers,
    Two items on MSM today
    Pauline Hanson + Cory Bernardi = Perfect Storm
    One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson says she would be willing to join forces with maverick Liberal Cory Bernardi if he goes through with a suspected plan
    A combined Hanson-Bernardi movement would be the perfect storm, giving disaffected conservatives a home away from home,

    Pauline Hanson attacks pension changes
    One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has criticised next year’s pension changes, saying the government should leave retirees alone.

    And giving her breathing space is the Cairns News

    ALP, LNP Greens have stolen your pensions {Cairns News headline}

    Of course the ALP had to unfairly get included even though this was a Greens/LNP deal

  35. Athena

    The Greens actually got an increase for the poorest pensioners. The LNP did not originally intend for that. But gee what pity I have for the poor bastards who cannot get by with their own home and over $700 Gs in assets. They’re really doing it tough.

  36. Zathras

    I really have to wonder at the political logic behind those pension changes.
    The only power pensioners have left is through the ballot box and they represent around 20% of eligible voters.

    There can be no extra votes gained by cutting pensions but there will certainly be a lot lost and the Government relies on the aged vote.
    Recent polling appears to validate this reaction.

    The business term for this is “pissing in the soup” and the government seem to be doing a lot of it lately and have left themselves no way out of this particular mess.

    It would have been easier to cancel a submarine order or two to get the same result.

    It will be an interesting 2017.

  37. Terry2

    I am hearing that there is a lot of concern among nursing home residents who don’t understand what is happening with their pension entitlements. It seems that those who have sold the family home to fund their nursing home residency and who rely on the pension for ongoing expenses are seeing their pensions reduced – something that would presumably have happened anyhow – so why the need for change ?.

    The problem that the government have created is that those who have all their lives assumed that the pension was a fundamental entitlement are now finding that a government committed to budget savings can tamper arbitrarily with what was previously considered sacrosanct.

    Whilst the government have said that their pension changes will mean that 90% of pensioners will either get an increase or their entitlement will remain unchanged from 1 January 2017, the facts, at least anecdotally, would seem to be at variance with this claim particularly when you consider that the motivation for the changes was to save money, so quite obviously there have to be large scale reductions to achieve the stated objective.

  38. Paul

    Thanks for the article Denis! It provides some important insight into the impact of preferences and voting for the minor parties.

    It’s important that voters opting for minor parties understand where their vote ultimately goes. It is not necessary to follow the how to vote card but important to understand what that second and third preference really means.

    Thanks for some great articles in 2016 and all the best for the new year. = )

  39. Boris

    Nice read, Thanks Denis

  40. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    your comment @ 1.42 am on 30/12 is spot on.

    We can’t wait for the LNP to self-destruct, as they inevitably will, because of the damage they will inflict on us until the end.

    In order to speed up the process of change for effective government, I wonder whether Labor will kiss and make up with the Greens and form a mutually beneficial ALLiance that will build the nation-building platforms for alternative and progressive reforms?

  41. Steve Laing -

    Jennifer – I wish they would. Labor and the Greens have more in common than not, and the diversity of opinions would actually help build better solutions overall. But I still see too much anti-Green sentiment in some corners of the Labor establishment based on where they campaign and historical disagreements on certain issues, despite the reality that without the preferences of Greens voters almost entirely going towards Labor candidates, they don’t give appropriate observance to the views of those voters, and they should.

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Very true, Steve.

    So, ‘It’s Time’ for the Labor establishment to stir out of its long, long, complacent and comfortable neoliberalist sleep.

  43. nurses1968

    Sorry Labor branches are now moving resolutions of no Greens alliances.
    Tasmanian rank and file started the ball rolling and now it is moving on to other States.
    The Greens have their own Party constitution that forbids members from membership of other parties as does the ALP and an ALLiance could under present circumstances be seen as that.
    How many Independents/members of other parties do you have on board signed up for the ALLiance or even any who have shown even the slightest interest or is it still only you?
    Does the Alliance hove some form of constitution or rules and regulations for members?
    Would individual Party MPs be banned from their Party if they signed on to the ALLIance?
    Many questions I’m sure the Lawyer in you has covered.
    Care to share?
    Have you considered the fact that both Labor and the Greens would vote on Legislation on merit anyhow,so what benefit an Alliance?

  44. Steve Laing -

    Nurses – I’m sure that Labor branches are. More divide, less unite. Our way or the highway. It is the problem with political parties – you get what those with the power dictate. Then the inordinate rules of what you can and can’t do. No wonder most people aren’t interested in political parties, and why democracy is dying. A formal alliance isn’t required, and I don’t think is what JMS is suggesting.

  45. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Steve.

    nurses1984 wrongly refuses to see the wisdom of bringing the Greens and Labor together to help win back a kinder, more caring, more innovative, flourishing Australia.

  46. nurses1968

    Jennifer Major-Smythe falis to see her idea will never happen.How many from your Greens branch have you signed up? and you didn’t answer a single question.What not thought through yet?
    What benefit for Labor? none
    Greens , yes

  47. Steve Laing -

    Nurses – instead of worrying about the benefits for Labor or the Greens, how about worrying about the benefits for the electorate for a change? What is actually best for them?

  48. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    for the record:

    The ALLiance I refer to, does not mean that Labor members have to become Greens members nor Greens become Labor.

    The ALLiance means a working arrangement where they identify their similarities (and differences); similar policy and political aims; strategic political planning in marginal and safe LNP seats; strategic election planning so the Public knows the Greens and Labor are working complimentary to each other in the best interests of the Australian People; and the possibilities are endless.

    By working together in The ALLiance, we can be sure to be rid of this loathsome LNP Government sooner than the 2019 mid-year election because an emboldened combined party Opposition would put insurmountable pressure on this already weakened LNP Degenerate Mal-governance.

  49. nurses1968

    Steve Laing –
    I’m not saying that the electorate are being ignored I’m just stating members of the ALP don’t want alliances with the Greens.
    I am not up to date on it all but the rank and file will be moving motions and letting MPs know that any formal ties with the Greens would mean withdrawal of financial contributions to campaigns and the likelihood that members would be unavailable for letterboxing prepolling or polling day duties.
    It was worded that if Head Office ever forced the issue members would unfortunately be unavailable for electoral duties .probably a lot would develop the flu or a headache :-} {61 to 8 in one branch}
    “how about worrying about the benefits for the electorate for a change? What is actually best for them?”
    That comes down to votes in Parliament and the issue was of a great enough concern the the Greens could vote with Labor

    Jennif MS why can’t just voting on issues without alliances do?

  50. Maria

    As a Labour Branch Secretary and veteran of many campaigns in a long- held LNP seat, I grow increasingly disappointed with Greens member behaviour. There was a time where we would assist Greens members on polling day with food, drinks, minding their stall when they were short of supporters. There was camaraderie.
    Now we deal with Greens tearing down our signs. We constantly preference Greens second but Greens do not preference Labour second. Greens candidates criticise Labour policy at public forums to try to win over disgruntled conservative voters. Greens lecture Labour about being just another “Old Party” while rarely acknowledging the bitter struggles of Unions and the Labour Party to build decent conditions for working people.
    On a more cheerful note, wouldn’t it be astounding if our media worked hard at making 2017 a year of increased scrutiny of how our representatives vote in the House and the Senate and the next election was a contest of facts and ideas!

  51. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    The short answer is that the Public would not see how the Greens and Labor are actually working together to ensure their combined efforts is intended to bring alternative and positive change to what the LNP are offering.

  52. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    I’m sad to hear that was how it was in your electorate.

    That was not my experience on Election Day 2016. Labor and me (the Greens htv distributor) got on fine and the Greens preferenced Labor.

    I made sure of that because it was my expectation. Obviously, the support must be two way.

  53. Matters Not

    Maria – Labour and not Labor ?

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