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Forget gender and ethnicity, our parliament isn’t even representative of our vote

In the last federal House of Representatives election, the Coalition collectively got 42.04% of the first preference vote, Labor got 34.73% and the Greens got 10.23%.

If we had proportional representation, that would equate to 63 seats for the Coalition, 52 for Labor and 15 for the Greens, instead of which we got 76 for the Coalition, 69 for Labor and just 1 for the Greens.

Of particular note is the Nationals Party who, with just 4.61% of first preference votes, got 10 seats.

This disproportionate representation might go a long way towards explaining why we spend so much time talking about the plight of coal miners and irrigators rather than the catastrophic effects of climate change.

People who care about the environment are disparaged as virtue-signalling latte-sipping smashed-avocado-eating inner-city-dwelling dilettantes who don’t understand that milk comes from a cow and that coal is responsible for their prosperity.

This derision usually comes from people with an eye to their profits rather than long-term solutions for what is an increasingly urgent problem.

I do understand that, for some, it is genuine concern about their livelihood, but if your job puts at risk the livelihood of many others, and further, the actual health of the planet, then we need to find you a new job.

It is true that the Greens vote is somewhat inflated comparatively because they run candidates in every seat while the Nationals just target those they think they will win, but over 10% of the country voted for a party that was not going to form government which shows the wider concern in the community for environmental and social justice issues.

The way things are, we have two opponents with a winner-takes-all result.  This makes them timid.  They are too scared to ever open up an avenue for political attack.  We can’t even say we want to help sick refugees without the hysterical hyperbole unleashing followed by ignominious backpedalling.

Tax cuts are used as sweeteners with both sides feeling they must outdo the other.  Surpluses are presented as the Holy Grail.  Responsible fiscal management is auctioned off.

They make announcements to appease certain voting groups rather than to prosecute good policy, with no guarantee then that they will follow through after the election.  After promising to match Paul Keating on superannuation, it took John Howard less than 6 months to abandon that promise.  Or Tony’s infamous “no cuts” election eve lie.

Richard Marles was very keen to assure everyone that Labor would match the Coalition promise to spend 2% of GDP on defence as well as committing to continue the massive spend on war machinery that will likely be obsolete before it ever arrives.

As pointed out today in the SMH, the future will be challenged by entirely new forms of war.

“Cyber, space and media conflicts are equally implicated in upending the established order.”

What use will our fighter jets and submarines and frigates and patrol boats be in defending us against the real dangers of the 21st century and the realities of modern warfare and influence peddling?

The only solution to this endless game of “me too” that I can see is if we have a multi-party executive that proportionally represents the community.  Perhaps if we did that they might start working together to actually find solutions rather than telling lies, making false promises. and matching the other side in a race to the bottom just to pick up votes.

They might start being leaders rather than followers of popularity polls.

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13 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    If we still had the Joh gerrymander in Queensland state politics we would have trouble.

    The decline in regional town economies due to the continuing failure of governments of both major parties to decentralise government jobs to regional centres, especially cities, is partly responsible for this voting distortion.

    The Nat$ represent the big end of foreign owned multinational corporate mining with agriculture accounting for about only 4% of the voting population across Australia. This makes the above statistics even more of a gerrymander; 4% of (agriculture) population representing 4.61% of national population controlling 10 Parliamentary seats in Canberra. Hardly democratic, but still better than alternative voting systems like “first past the post” voluntary voting that gave us Maggie Thatcher, Tony Blah and Donald Trumpery.

  2. Yvonne Robertson

    The situation with the Nats is untenable to be sure. Beyond that however, I’d like to know how many members of parliament are private school tie, how many Roman Catholics too – seems like a disproportionate number of them and then let us consider those with deep, deep pockets – how many lobbed in Canberra with a silver spoon? What of those with parliamentary backgrounds so that the system just becomes a self perpetuating machine – from staffer to candidate? How many of us are lawyers or bankers as part of the general population compared to the hallowed halls of the fenced off “People’s Parliament”? How can they possibly know the plight of the less privileged when they’ve never known what it is not to be rescued from the perils of poverty by the bank of Mumsy and Dads? And just for a final thought – what about a Senate that is NOT aligned with parliamentary parties but votes upon State lines as a buffer against the party politics in the lower house as was intended – now I’d like to see that!

  3. Kaye Lee

    Yvonne,

    In my verandah dreaming about proportional representation, I have a new seating arrangement for the HoR where there aren’t treasury, opposition and cross benches – where we make them sit next to a person from another party. It’s harder to catcall and be nasty when they are all mixed up. And those who do persistently interrupt shouldn’t be given an early mark to get to the canteen early, they would be made to sit single file in the naughty kids chairs in a row in front of the speaker.

    Oh and I would make it an alcohol free zone.

  4. Kronomex

    And now the Scummo gubmint has decided we’re going to pay more for their corruption of “government advertising”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/feb/27/coalition-changes-rules-to-let-mps-spend-millions-more-taxpayer-dollars-on-ads

    Their desperation is really starting to come out and it seems that being very short of party funds has led them to decide to basically rob/defraud us to prop themselves up in the coming election. Bastards! If this was a person doing the same thing they would be swung from the yardarm.

  5. whatever

    They are spending public money on advertising on the crappy old MSM that nobody watches or listens to. Life-support, in other words, to their faithful old retainers in the legacy Media.
    Maybe we will see Shouty Scotty himself “Save up to %50 off on your power bills if you vote LNP!”

  6. Ibn Al Khatib.

    This a very good essay that gets to its real point in those last deadly accurate paragraphs.

    What if we knew the truth about what goes in the nation’s capital, who makes the real decisions and for what real reasons?

  7. Kaye Lee

    Ibn Al Khatib,

    Even the stuff we do know is shocking. We must continue to make people aware so they demand better. The secrecy and cronyism must stop. Government must not be about bestowing gifts that you think will advantage you politically or make lots of money for your backers in the hope of securing a future for yourself after politics, but that, sadly, is what it has descended to..

  8. Yvonne Robertson

    Kaye Lee

    Love the idea of making them sit next to someone of another party but then wonder if the precious darlings mightn’t get a bit confused about which side of the house they needed to be standing on when divisions were called. The whips may need real ones or cattle prods to help the confused find the correct side. Of course if you’re serious about the ‘no alcohol rule’ then perhaps the confusion would be limited. I also like the idea of a sin bin – you know a little glassed box where we can see them but can’t hear them if they decide to continue with their unruly ways!

  9. Andreas Bimba

    I agree Kaye that we would be better served by multiparty democracy rather than our current winner takes all (but with preferencing) single member per seat electoral system that inevitably favours a duopoly based political system.

    Tasmania’s lower house and the ACT’s Hare-Clark proportional representation electoral system that consists of larger seats each with 5 elected members seems to produce better results with independents and minor party representatives getting a much fairer chance to get elected. It works in practice and the Tasmanians like this system.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZA6xT0a5kgg

    The Labor party in my opinion would be better off splitting into a traditional working class – Labor party and a centre right party as quite frankly this party hasn’t in general acted in the best interests of workers and much of the middle class for the last 40 years of the neoliberal era.

    Similarly the hard right servants of capital in the Liberal and National parties would be better off breaking free from the more moderate segments so all are able to present their platforms more honestly to the electorates and without constant in fighting.

    Such a multiparty system will inevitably mean that coalition negotiations will occur after elections so as to decide who forms government, who fills key positions and what policies are actioned. A bit more chaotic than our duopoly but most continental European nations manage quite well with such an approach.

    Our democracy is sick in many other ways for example most of our mass media has become a tool for those that control capital, money and lobbying exert undue influence and corruption remains hidden and unpunished. Our democracy is also far too aggressive, centralised and unjust which discourages many otherwise suitable people from getting involved.

  10. David Bruce

    Whitlam was a brilliant constitutional lawyer who had clearly studied Lincolns’ fraud in America. He knew exactly what to do.

    By using the Australian dollar (the product of a private agreement between the previous prime ministers back to Holt and the corresponding state premiers) he offered the newly elected members an increase in wages, pending they enter a new contract through the Ministers of State act. In other words, the newly elected members of the Federal Parliament all quit their jobs and moved to a new position under Whitlam’s private business – the Australian Government.

    Given that we the people have not had a de jure Parliament since 1972, and were not told that, then NO piece of legislation created by the Australian Government, a body operating under deception – has ANY validity whatsoever over you and I – even if we contracted in some capacity without the full disclosure.

    Understand the Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth November 14 at 7:10 PM Written by Sue Maynes
    https://dbudimir.com/2018/12/28/understand-the-constitution-of-the-australian-commonwealth-by-sue-maynes/

    Apparently the Australia Act (1986) is “unlawful”, although many will argue it is “legal”.

    “The High Court says it gets its power from the unlawful Australia Act 1986 which was introduced two years after a referendum of Australian people said they did not want the Commonwealth to give its powers to the States.

    “This referendum failed but here we have the High Court using powers the states should not have such as the denial of juries.”

    The senate should be dealing with the validity of the Australia Act 1986 and this would result in Western Australia getting its fair share of GST revenue and preventing the sale of Australian freehold land to foreign governments.

    “The people continue to say no to foreign buyers but the Liberals and Labor keep selling off our land,” he said.

    “There is a huge cloud over the judicial system and my matter should be used as an example in the senate to clean it up.”

    https://cairnsnews.org/2017/03/08/culleton-warns-of-the-biggest-constitutional-correction-since-federation/?fbclid=IwAR23exbKiRD52RZy2_LUfrRjRHPV7HmZingDpn45jvmPpj6lIhfRZLGLTtI

    See more at:

    Understand the Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth – Public group (Facebook)

  11. Kronomex

    Test post.

    Well that was weird, for the last hours or so every post kept coming back with “Can’t find that page” error.

    So I’m going to post the post that I’ve been trying to post here:

    I call crap on this, Scummo wanted a male and him being an ex-soldier is so much more exciting than some woman who might have done some things outside of politics. “”incredibly democratic”” what a load of garbage.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-28/liberal-stirling-candidate-defends-selection-against-gender-bias/10859466?section=politics

    And the next bits from his Liberal party page (https://www.waliberal.org.au/your-members/your-electorate/vince-connelly/)

    “He has extensive experience with WA’s mining, oil and gas industries, including roles in emergency and crisis management.”
    “Vince understands public service, having managed the risk program at the City of Swan and been a staff member for Julie Bishop, who he considers a role model.”

    He is the very model of a modern LNPeral. With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan.

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