Going Global with NATO

Regional alliances should, for the most part, remain regional. Areas of the…

Whatever it takes

By 2353NM Some years ago, a plumber was telling me when they came…

Australian War Memorial needs to own Australian frontier…

By David Stephens Proper recognition and commemoration of the Australian Frontier Wars at…

Chegg, Cheating and Australian Universities

The note on Radio National’s Background Briefing on the morning of July…

By the People and for the People: a…

By Max Ogden and John Lord One of Australia's most vexing questions is…

We Are In Total Agreement With The 43%…

Good morning, today we have a representative from the government-in-exile, Shadow Minister…

Fire, Flood and Famine

Sounds Biblical? As it should. Man's inhumanity to man also features. Talking to a close…

Whither Constitutional Change?

Within a very short space of time, we are going to be…

«
»
Facebook

Your vote: what’s it really worth?

It’s a federal election year – and although a date hasn’t yet been set, all the political ducks are starting to line up in rows as the triennial wooing of the Australian voter begins.

They aren’t really wooing ‘us’ of course – what they actually want is our votes. And with the focus put on polls by both politicians and the media, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your vote is a valuable commodity. But exactly how valuable is it?

How much say do we really have?

Voting is arguably the most prominent cornerstone of democracy – the means by which we each get to participate in the democratic process. Your vote is supposed to represent ‘your say’, and collectively the outcome of the voting process should represent ‘our say’ in how this country is run – the will of the Australian people as it were.

But what is your vote worth? When you trot along to the polling booths later this year, run the gauntlet of ‘How to vote pamphlet’ pushers, enjoy your democracy sausage and cast your vote – what exactly are you getting a say in?

The following are some common expectations people have about the power of their vote:

  1. Elections are about picking which party you want to vote for
  2. The election outcome represents the will of the Australian people
  3. All votes are equal
  4. We determine which policies will be used to guide the direction of the country
  5. The Australian people elect a Prime Minister
  6. Your vote determines who will represent your individual electorate

Let’s take a look at each of these, and see exactly how well our expectations about what our vote is worth match up with reality…

1. Are elections about picking a political party?

When people talk about who will win an election, they are typically referring to which party will win. Election results (and polls) are framed in terms of what percentage of the vote each of the two major parties received. And if people talk about how they are going to vote in an election, they will typically express it in party terms “I voted Labor/Liberal/Greens Etc”.

So certainly, there’s an expectation that our vote gives us a say in which political party is in charge of governing the country.

But here’s the problem with this…

You can’t actually vote for a party

Even though many people do cast their vote for whoever happens to be representing the political party they support, that individual isn’t bound to stay in that party. Most do of course – but they certainly aren’t obliged to. There have been plenty of examples of individuals who have resigned from their party during their term and subsequently become an independent. Notable recent examples (albeit in the Senate) include Clive Palmer’s PUPs: Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus.

Theoretically, the person you voted for can even align themselves with a party that you would be least likely to vote for. That’s probably unlikely, but it’s not impossible. Whilst not quite a defection from one party to another – when National-Party-turned-Independent member Tony Windsor sided with the Labor government in 2010 to enable Julia Gillard to take the reigns of government, it was considered by much of his largely conservative New England electorate to be an act of betrayal. In fact he was arguably acting as a true independent in selecting the option that he believed would best serve his electorate. However because people are so focused on which political party is in power, many didn’t see it that way. But there wasn’t anything disenchanted voters in the New England electorate could do about it – not for at least three years in any event.

So you can’t technically vote for a political party, only for an individual. That said, defections don’t happen that often. If we assume for a moment that all elected candidates continue to dance with the party that ‘brung’ them, that brings us to the next question….

2. Does the election outcome represent the will of the Australian people?

Politicians love to talk about ‘the will of the Australian people’ as though somehow all 24 million of us think exactly the same way, and that they – and only they – know what our singular will is. This is particularly the case after an election, when the winning pollies love to claim that they have a ‘mandate’ from the Australian people for any policy they ever dreamed of. In putting forward his repeal of the Carbon Tax shortly after his election in 2013, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament:

“The Australian people have already voted upon this bill” (Tony Abbott, November 2013)

This claim to a mandate from the Australian people is based on the assumption that the make-up of the House of Representatives is – as its name suggests – ‘representative’ of the Australian voters’ will.

But is it?

Perhaps it would be better named the House of ‘Representish’

If you look at the primary vote from the last Federal Election, the LNP got only 45% of the votes in the House of Representatives. And yet, despite the fact that they were first choice for less than half the country, they still claimed a ‘resounding victory’, ending up with 88 seats – or 59% of the 150 seats in that House.

The Labor party got only 33% of the primary vote, but still claimed 57 seats (38%) in the House of Representatives. Combined, the two major parties were first choice for just under 79% of Australian voters – and yet they claimed 97% of the seats.

Conversely, the Green party got 9% of the primary vote – but only one seat (0.7%). In fact, more than one in five Australians (21%) cast their primary vote in the House of Reprentatives for a candidate who was neither in the Liberal nor the Labor party – and yet those candidates won only 3% of seats.

Put bluntly, our House of Representatives is more ‘representish’ than representative – when you look at the Australian population as a whole. This is due to the now arguably outdated tradition of assuming that people who live in the same area – or electorate – have similar views and needs, and that therefore Representatives in the House should be allocated by the physical location of the voter, rather than by their political persuasion.

3. Are all votes equal?

‘Political equality’ – the notion that all citizens get to vote and everyone’s vote is equal – is critical to democracy. It is a key part of what makes a democracy:

“government of the people, by the people, for the people”
(Abraham Lincoln)

However, in reality…

All votes are equal. But some are more equal than others.

As we just saw, Australia’s political power is primarily divvied up between the two major parties, whittling down the Australian voter’s choice of government to one of two options – the LNP or Labor. But in practice, because a large portion of voters don’t change the way they vote from one election to another, around 41% of seats are considered to be ‘safe’ seats (which means it would take a swing of more than 10% for them to change hands, making it highly unlikely). Another 25% of seats are considered ‘fairly safe’, and therefore reasonably unlikely to change. The remaining 51 seats (34%) are considered to be the swinging (or marginal) seats – which can change hands at any election.

If you live in a ‘safe seat’, the political parties will not really be wooing you in the upcoming federal election for the simple reason that unless there are exceptional circumstances in your particular electorate – such as a high profile independent member running, or you live in Tony Abbott’s electorate – your individual vote in the House of Representatives will have no impact whatsoever on which party ends up winning government. If you live in a ‘fairly safe’ seat, you might get the odd political sweetener thrown your way – just in case. But it’s really the voters in marginal seats who get all the political love.

This means that while in theory we all have an equal vote as to who is in government, in practice, it’s primarily the one in three voters who live in the 51 marginal seats whose vote actually determines the outcome of our federal election. If you’re a voter who lives in a safe seat, your vote – to determine who is in government in the House of Representatives – is really just a formality.

4. Do we get to determine what policies will guide the country for the next three years?

In arguing their case at election time, politicians put forward the policies they say they will govern by if elected. Voters are encouraged to make their choice of who to vote for on the basis of a party’s policies.

Who can forget the following policy promises from Tony Abbott the night before the 2013 federal election:

However…

Political parties are in no way, shape or form bound by the policies and promises they make at election time

You need look no further than the video of Tony Abbott above to prove that politicians are not bound by their pre-election promises. There’s not a single promise made in that video which hasn’t either been broken or put on the table for discussion. Further, according to the ABC promise tracker, if you look at all the promises made by the LNP prior to the last election, and compare the number of promises kept with those that have been broken, the ratio is nearly one to one.

While I personally believe that politicians should be given some leeway to change policies in response to new circumstances, that should be the exception and not the rule. It’s completely incongruent with our broader legal system that voters are not able to hold politicians accountable for the promises they used to convince you to vote for them.

If a company were to entice you to buy something from them by lying to you, you have protection under the law and can hold that company to account for that promise.

And yet, if politicians entice you to vote for them with blatant lies, nobody bats an eyelid. As Australian columnist Niki Savva said last year on Insiders:

“pretty much everyone assumes that once they see a politician’s lips move, that means that…you’re not necessarily going to hear the truth”

5. Do we get to decide who gets to be Prime Minister?

If ever you needed proof that there is a group of people who cast their vote based on who they think should be Prime Minister, the improvement in LNP’s fortunes in the polls following Abbott’s replacement by Malcolm Turnbull should convince you. Changing Prime Minister had a significant impact on the way a percentage of the population said they would vote at the next election. Clearly, at least a proportion of the population believe that their vote gives them a say in this decision.

But you can’t actually vote for a Prime Minister

The irony of course is that the sheer volume of Prime Ministers we’ve had leading the country over the past five years illustrates that there is no guarantee that if you cast your vote at election time on the basis of a particular person becoming Prime Minister, that he or she will remain Prime Minister for any length of time.

In the words of Malcolm Turnbull:

it’s very important to remember that the leadership of the Liberal Party is, as John Howard said, in the unique gift of the party room” (Malcolm Turnbull, February 2015)

6. An individual to represent your electorate

In his farewell speech about Warren Truss last week in parliament, Malcolm Turnbull said of Truss that he was a ‘formidable advocate’ for his electorate:

“That is our primary obligation – to the people who actually put the No. 1 against our name on the ballot paper—the citizens of our electorate.”
(Malcolm Turnbull, 11 February 2016)

And that is definitely the theory. As I’ve written previously, it’s called the House of Representatives, not the House of Rulers. In Ancient Athens, their democratic model meant that every citizen had the right to attend monthly sessions where issues and laws were discussed and voted on. Of course this type of direct democracy is impractical on a large scale or for those who lived a fair distance away. So it wasn’t too long before a form of ‘representative’ democracy was developed – the theory being that rather than everyone voting individually, each district sent someone to represent them and vote on their behalf.

It is this model of ‘representative’ democracy that our political system is loosely based on today. The individual that the people in your electorate decide will represent you in parliament – your Member of Parliament (or MP) – takes their seat in the House of Representatives (or House of Representish) in Canberra. And in theory, their ‘primary obligation’ is to be the voice of the people in their electorate.

Sounds great – but in practice…

It’s party first, electorate second

Unless you are represented by an Independent, your MP in the House of Representatives will typically vote the way their party tells them to. As a member of one the major political parties, MPs can’t vote in a manner that represents their electorate if doing so would go against the way their party wants them to vote – at least not without risking censure and even expulsion.

Put simply – it’s party first, electorate second.

All MPs are equal. But some are more equal than others.

Malcolm Turnbull has made much of the fact that he runs a truly consultative style of government:

“We have a Cabinet system of government. It’s a collective form of decision making.”
(Malcolm Turnbull, 20 September 2015)

Sounds good – at least on the surface. But what this means in reality is that decisions about our country’s future are not really debated on the floor of parliament with every elected MP getting the opportunity to put forward the views of their electorate and vote on their behalf. These debates happen – but by the time they do, the outcome is a forgone conclusion. Instead, decisions about the future of this country are made behind closed doors in Cabinet meetings. There aren’t public minutes to Cabinet meetings, which means that we only hear what happens in these meetings if there is a leak – which, while reasonably frequent, is actually illegal.

And since Cabinet is only made up of the Senior Ministers of a party, even if your MP happens to be on the governing side of parliament, they really only get a deciding vote on matters of major policy if they happen to be a Senior Minister.

Even worse – if your MP is in opposition or is an independent, unless they happen to hold the balance of power, they don’t get a voice in the policy development process – not in any meaningful way at least.

This leads to a situation where instead of parliament being a time for Australians to be represented by their MP on issues being discussed, it becomes a time of name calling and political point scoring. But let’s face it, if all policy decisions are made behind closed doors, there’s really nothing else left for them to do.

Many MPs don’t really know what their constituents want

Even if your local MP is a Senior Minister in Cabinet, many of them don’t interact regularly with their constituents. The recent debate around marriage equality was a good example of this. Despite the fact that poll after poll shows that a majority of Australians are in favour of marriage equality, many MPs talked of their personal position on this rather than their constituents’ position. (There was one notable exception in Queensland where the local MP actually took a poll of his constituents – but he was the exception and not the rule.)

And many constituents don’t even know who their MP is

On the flip side, many people don’t actually know who their local member of Parliament is either. In a recent poll done in the UK, only 22% of people knew who their elected representative of parliament was. I suspect the situation is similar here. So clearly, if many people don’t even know who their local MP is, they haven’t spent a lot of time interacting with them or even caring about who they are.

So what does your vote count for then?

Let’s do a quick recap.

  • If you cast your vote for a particular party, there’s nothing that says the candidate you elect must continue to represent that party – it’s completely up to them.
  • The House of Representatives should be renamed the House of Representish – since politicians who do end up as Members of the House of Representatives are not a particularly accurate representation of the primary vote of Australians as a whole.
  • All votes are equal, but some are more equal than others – the decision as to which of two parties gets to govern the country is primarily made by only a third of voters.
  • All our elected representatives are equal, but some are more equal than othersfor your MP to have a voice in parliament, they really need to be in government. And for it to count, they really need to be in Cabinet.
  • When voting in parliament, your MP will typically put their party first and their electorate secondunless they are an independent of course.
  • Your vote doesn’t determine who is Prime Minister – that is the ‘gift of the party room’.
  • Your vote doesn’t even guarantee you that the government will follow a specific set of policies – as there’s absolutely nothing that requires the party that was voted in on a particular policy platform to govern according to that platform.

Ok – so who really gets the deciding vote on all these issues?

WhoseVoteCounts

I guess Mark Twain was mostly right…

Mark Twain famously said “if voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it” – and to a certain extent, he’s right. He’s not entirely correct of course, we do get some say – just not quite as much as we might think we do.

The thing is that our vote used to count.

Our current democratic model and conventions were largely adopted from the UK model at the time of Australian Federation in 1901. At that point, the UK model of democracy had been evolving since the 13th century. And when the basics of democracy were put into place in Britain back then, every man’s vote was equal – every man, not woman, but that’s another story. Further, back in the 13th century, the King needed the vote of the people in order to collect taxes – no vote, no tax. There were no political parties, so each electorate’s representatives (they had two) actually represented the people who sent them.

Voting – it’s all about the Money

But that was back then. Since democracy was introduced to Britain in the 13th centurty, the power of each individual’s vote had diminished significantly. And it’s all because of – yep, you guessed it – the money. In my next article – Voting: it’s all about the Money – I’ll outline how this happened, and how money continues to drain the power of our vote today.

Now for some good news….

It’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that a lot of the problems with our democracy are there by convention rather than law – the bones of a truly representative democracy are still enshrined within our constitution. But it’s up to us to decide that we want to claim it back.

I spoke a little about this in my first article on this topic – Democracy: The Genie is out of the bottle – and there’s more to come. So stay tuned!

This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 155 total views,  1 views today

30 comments

Login here Register here
  1. Shaun Newman

    1. We, much like the USA, have 2 right wing major parties to choose from. I thought democracy was about choosing one of at least two competing ideologies. The Labor Party has been dragged so far to the right by weak anti-member right wing unions that is is now only “tory lite” and doesn’t fight for the worker any more, though they are preferable to the ultra right wing LNP.

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    If many of the problems with our democracy are by convention and not law, there are legal ways to improve what you aptly describe as ‘representish’. Even where the LNP Degenerates impose unjust laws on us, an incoming progressive Alliance can reverse the harms inflicted.

    This is especially possible if political donations are outlawed, as Bernie Sanders is advocating in the US. The Greens were arguing this under Christine Milne and I would hope Di Natale is following suit.

  3. cornlegend

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    The Greens argue for outlawing political donations because they don’t get any .
    When they do, it’s a different matter .
    Remember when they accepted the largest single political donation in Australian political history at the time ?

    “Greens leader Bob Brown says he expects criticism after his party received the biggest political donation in Australian history.

    The Greens are continuing to campaign for political donations from individuals to be capped at $1,000, despite Wotif founder Graeme Wood’s $1.6 million donation before the last federal election.

    “While the big parties block [us], the Greens are going to continue to get a disproportionate increase in funding,” he said.” 8 Jan 2011

  4. Florence nee Fedup

    What is being said, having a say, being heard is more than lodging a vote for local member every three years.

    It is about being knowledgeable local MP is doing. Hold them to scrutiny at all times.

    About not being backward in letting them know what you want. What is and isn’t acceptable.

    Making them accountable to voters in the electorate that gave them the mandate to sit in parliament.

    Ensuring they understand their first loyalty is to voter and electorate. Not to the government, not to the party.

    If we work at this, our votes do count.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    If Dutton has enough locals sitting outside his office, flooding his email & phone, he will reconsider. Have no choice not to.

  6. Kate M

    Hi all. Thanks for your comments. I think the most important thing about democracy is that we start engaging with it again. I read a great article earlier today that someone sent me via twitter on the rise of the ‘silent state’. The best way to counteract that is to keep talking about these issues – so thanks for participating 🙂

    Florence – Good points. Agree that it’s more than our vote. That was the premise of my first article in this rather long-winded series 🙂 – Democracy, the genie is out of the bottle ( https://theaimn.com/democracy-the-genie-is-out-of-the-bottle/ )

    Jennifer – yes, I think it’s positive that the underpinnings of a far more representative democracy than we currently experience are actually enshirined in our constitution. The question is how we start the shift back to that…

    Jennifer/Cornlegend – I shall hold my comments on the topic of political donations, as I’m mid-article on this, so look forward to your comments on that when it’s done 🙂

    Shaun – agree that two parties is not really choice. I actually wrote more on that in an earlier version of this article, but some judicious culling to attempt to shorten it meant that I pulled that out. But I will write more on that later. Look forward to your thoughts 🙂

  7. Jan Dobson

    This is an excellent article. It should be given to every new voter and reissued every five years or so.

    It never fails to confound me that so many of us don’t realise that our power lies only in electing the best local person, regardless of party. Only by doing so, shall we improve the standard of our politicians.

    The “that is our primary obligation – to the people who actually put the No. 1 against our name on the ballot paper—the citizens of our electorate” (Malcolm Turnbull, 11 February 2016) quote, especially, reminds us why we’re in so much trouble. No, Mr Turnbull, your primary obligation is equally to ALL residents of your electorate and ALL residents of our country REGARDLESS of for whom they voted or, indeed, whether they voted.

    btw, Would you be prepared to add your Twitter account to your bio? I’d like to hear more of your opinions.

  8. Mechboyblu

    One man one vote. Excuse one person one vote. So true Kate. Democracy is in a hail storm right now with only one way out.

  9. Kate M

    Jan – agree totally re electing the best person to represent us, and yet many miss that. What happened with both Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott seemed to bring that home. When they were tasked with making a decision in 2010, they made a call to go with the option that they believed was best for their electorate rather than to just go down their traditional voting roots. And yet their electorates eventually punished them for it!

    Mech boy – it is in a hailstorm. But so few realise this and the true threat that this places to their freedom.

  10. Kyran

    “if voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it”
    The instances you have cited, Oakeshott and Windsor, whilst worthy of comment, pale into insignificance when compared to ‘the Indi experiment’, in my opine. When a group, within their electorate, advertise a job and request input from constituents as to the job criteria, they got a candidate like Ms McGowan. Ok, Ms Mirabella wasn’t much competition and was, ironically, appointed to overlook submarines.
    “a lot of the problems with our democracy are there by convention rather than law”
    One of the commenter’s here (Sir Scotch? Happy to be corrected) extols the virtue of a 30% independence in parliament. Imagine we had a 100% Indi Independence. Yeah, ok. Not so good for the ‘major’s’. Thank you, Ms Kate M. Take care

  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Kyran,

    usually I think you explain your good sense really well. This time however, you find fault everywhere. If you seek electoral reform like any of us other sane citizens, then please tell Kate M and us what you really mean with examples.

  12. Tim

    I find it remarkable that comments produced by this article do not mention reforming our federation? We live in a completely different world than when our federation was designed. We can now communicate with anyone in the country in real time, and we can even do it face to face via HD video if we want.
    The first step to refining our democracy it to eliminate the multiple levels of governance that we entertain. They serve no purpose that cannot be handled by our federal members.
    Why do we need more than one person representing our interests? This may seem like a loaded question, but with the power of todays technology, representation from a single entity may be far more efficient than our current system and is far more democratic than multiple levels of incompetent governments thinking they are somehow more attuned to our needs. The fallacy of multiple governments is politics. If people think politics will save us, we should stick with our current system, alternatively if people think politics is a waste of money, we should seriously consider getting rid of most of them…

  13. Möbius Ecko

    Newspoll Coalition ​50​ (-3​)​, Labor 50 (+3)

  14. Michael Taylor

    Time to ramp up the scare campaigns, Mobius.

  15. Kyran

    It’s a bit late to be doing homework, so I will go off recollection, which is also problematic. My recollection is that the seat of Indi was occupied by Ms Mirabella. Concerned constituents set about having meetings. From that, they devised a charter. Ms McGowan won their candidature and, subsequently, the seat.
    It was not my intention to detract from the likes of Oakeshott or Windsor, who are more than worthy of mention.
    I wasn’t trying to ‘find fault’. I need look no further than our current government, if that was my intent.
    There are good models for representation. As the article suggests, voting for the ‘majors’ merely gives you ‘representish’. Indi used the law to redefine the convention. I thought that was optimistic. My bad. Take care, Ms Meyer-Smith

  16. Backyard Bob

    Jennifer,

    Word to the wise: stop using “sane” in your posts to describe those who agree with you. It’s a habit you ought to avoid because it makes you look anything but … just sayin’…

  17. Kyran

    Well said, Tim. We have a population of 24mil, which ranks us near Ghana, North Korea, Yemen, Taiwan, Mozambique and Syria.
    Syria doesn’t really count. Everyone (like us) is blowing the crappers out of it.
    We have seven different legal/political jurisdictions. Excluding local government. None of the abovementioned countries have that level of governance!
    “with the power of todays technology.”
    We can’t afford Fttp NBN, but we can afford twice the price for half the service.
    The federation was formed in 1901. Just checked the calendar, it’s 2016. Take care

  18. JeffJL

    Tony Windsor was never a National Party representative in parliament. State or Federal.

    Thanks for a good, accurate and thoughtful article. I do think though that you thought of the article and then posed the questions to highlight the points. Much like a lawyer not asking questions that they do not know the answers to.

  19. margcal

    Kyran refers to the election of Cathy McGowan in Indi. If only that happened more often.
    But starting from scratch is such hard work, not impossible but ….. I recall Rob Oakshott saying (Australian Story?) that an independent starts something like 20,000 votes behind.
    However, there is a situation which would make electing an independent easier. I’ve said it before but (‘I’ think!) bears repeating.
    Where a candidate is parachuted into an electorate against the wishes of the local party members, they should resign en masse and support the candidate of their choice. They’ve got the local infrastructure already and they’ll get a kick start with the publicity about their displeasure at what’s happened.
    If only …..

  20. Kate M

    Hi Jeff. Thanks for the fact check on Tony Windsor. You’re right, Tony was never a capital ‘M’ Member of Parliament for the Nationals, but he was a small ‘m’ member of the NSW National party when he first considered running NSW legislature in the early 90s – at least as far as I know. As I understand it, he was going to be the National Party’s candidate in that seat for the NSW election, when a scandal made them decide to pick someone else. Windsor ran as an independent and won anyway. But in the eyes of his electorate, he was still very much aligned with the ‘right’ side of politics. K

  21. Kate M

    Tim – agree completely that our model of government across all spectrums needs reforming. Last time I checked, Australia had the highest number of politicians per capita of any country in the world. We are ridiculously extravagant in the number of politicians we agree to fund with our tax dollar. And yet you don’t hear ScoMo or any of his mates talking about cuts to the number of pollies the tax payer has to support. K

  22. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    @Kate M @6.06am,

    funny that, isn’t it?

    ByB,

    thanks again for your ‘constructive’ criticism. Unfortunately, I don’t agree. If I was naming Leyonhjelm as one of those sane Independents, then you’d have a point.

    I choose to use the word ‘sane’ because it helps to express my appreciation of their values and political choices. Would you prefer I use ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ like rabid Abbott?

  23. John Kelly

    There was a time long ago in a galaxy far far away, where you voted for your local candidate believing that he/she would represent you. I think it was on a now extinct planet called Greece. But, as time always proves, once capital is introduced into politics, representation for the local area becomes superfluous to the influence and the wishes of the minority.

  24. Jan Dobson

    While I understand, and even agree to some extent, with the comments about over governance, I have reservations. Tasmania, which on initial glance, is a prime example of the concept, made the very popular decision to reduce the number of state MPs and Councillors.

    The unfortunate side effect was a government and an opposition overwhelmed by both the complexity and the number of issues with which they had to grapple. http://www.tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/the-need-to-increase-tasmanian-parliamentary-numbers for more information.

  25. cornlegend

    Kate M
    We may have a large number of politicians, but a lot of that has to do with geography .
    People want representation and a visible member [well, visible at times }
    As an example of the size of Electorates, which people tend to overlook,
    Imagine driving from London to Istanbul or from San Francisco to Dallas, that’s about how long it would take to get from one end of the West Australian seat of Durack to the other.

    Stretching 2,905 kilometres from Geraldton in the south to Kununurra in the north and covering almost 1.6 million square kilometres, the seat of Durack is the biggest electorate, by area, in Australia.

  26. JeffJL

    I have to admit Kate that the only way I knew that was that I have just read Tony’s book “Windsors Way” available from ……

    He has a bit of a different take as to the split with the National Party. Somewhere between the two the truth will lie.

  27. corvus boreus

    What is my vote worth?

    My vote in the lower house has the value of a diddly-squat, since the incumbent ‘representative’ (a tourist park operator who wears a cowboy hat and a dopey-smug leer, a bit like a randy sloth on cocaine) will remain the local member in perpetuity.

    My upper house vote is worth a little more since some of the people I vote for here for might actually get into parliament, but filling the ballot sheet out properly (below the line) is an infected hemorrhoid of a task, made all the more more arduous by the knowledge that (due to disproportionate state senate allocations), as a NSW resident, my senate vote hits with less than 1/15 the impact of a Tasmanian voter’s.

    I often feel like I might as well vote by colouring-in using crayons.

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    cb,

    I love the description of your HoR mis-rep. I’d love to know who the degenerate is with the leer like a randy sloth on cocaine! My commiserations anyway for having that imposed on you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: