A new low in politics

March 18, 2016

It was predictable but disappointing that those opposing changes to Senate voting embarked on a campaign of lies about secret preference deals and accusations of Green self-interest.  The delaying tactics displayed by opponents brought politics to a new low, and congratulations to ALP retiring senator Gary Gray for calling it for what it was. As a result of these changes it is the voter who will have more power, rather than the smaller parties and the ALP; it was their secret deals that made the previous system so undemocratic and unreflective of voter intentions, allowing the election of people with a tiny proportion of the primary vote.

Part of their strategy was the ALP and Senator Leyonhelm colluding to bring forward the Marriage Equality Bill, a Bill which The Greens have brought forward themselves in the past, only to have it defeated by the ALP. This tactic was an utter disgrace, with its purpose being to not only delay debate on the Bill on the table but to put The Greens in an invidious position when they had to prioritise.

Under the old system, The Greens without exception directed preferences to candidates who were as close as possible in policy and action to The Greens. In contrast, the ALP had no qualms in directing preferences to anyone in return for preferences from them to gain power and/or as a way to keep The Greens out. The first Family First senator was elected that way, and voters in Monaro were encouraged to preference the Christian Democrats in NSW in at least one previous state election, to name just two examples of many.

Now that the new Senate voting laws have passed, the ALP and the others  who tried so hard to stop them need to think very carefully about how they proceed from here. If they are at all concerned about the greater good, they will not continue to denigrate The Greens and in many cases turn voters away from themselves as well. Otherwise, the result of a double dissolution election may indeed be a Senate with a majority of LNP members and other less progressive voices, and that will ensure little positive action on social justice and environmental issues of importance.

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