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Back October 14th, 2007 Forward
Now he tells us...

Our beloved Prime Minister has gone to the Governor General and got an election declared.  Yup, that's right, Australians will be going to the polls on 24 November, and we're now in for the legally mandated six weeks of serious political campaigning which goes before it.  As opposed, one presumes, to the last six months of political campaigning which has been going on, which was obviously just preliminary skirmishes. 

At present, I'm not enrolled to vote.  I'm going to be altering that tomorrow.  However, for any other Aussies who are reading this, and who aren't sure of the circumstances, the actual writs for the election are going to be published on the 17th of this month (ie Wednesday coming up) which means you have until 8pm Wednesday night to get your name onto the roll (unless you're a new voter or a young voter, in which case the deadline has already passed, and you should write a nasty letter to Meester Howard instead). 

Now, before declaring this journal an election free zone (if I'm going to write political stuff, I'll shove it in my Livejournal  or over on Blogger) I'll just explain my standard voting procedure.  Firstly, given the Australian voting system insists on preferential voting, I tend to exploit this.  I vote against.  So my first trick is to count the boxes, and then start with the candidate I least want to see again.  Usually this is the Liberal candidate [1], although this can change - if, for example, Family First[2] runs someone in my electorate, or if there's someone from One Nation[3] or the Australian Nationalist Movement[4] in there as well.  Next last is the ALP candidate (if there is one - at present I'm living in a blue-ribbon Liberal seat, and the ALP tends not to bother attempting to win people over in these).  Then I start looking at the minor parties.

Now, a quick note as to why I place the two major parties last and second last: it's all to do with the preferential voting.  In order to win a house of representatives seat, a candidate has to achieve 50% of the vote plus one vote.  If nobody gets that amount of votes in the first count, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and the counters look at the second preferences, which are divided up among the rest of the candidates.  Lather, rinse, repeat until one candidate has 50% +1 vote.  Usually it turns into a run off between the major parties, so I figure voting for the minors and the independents first keeps the whole count interesting.

So, now on to the minor parties.  Some of these I've already covered in the footnotes.  The others to look at are the National party (formerly known as the National Country Party), which tends historically to wind up in a coalition government with the Liberals whenever the Libs get into power; the Greens, who tend to lean toward the ALP, but can be somewhat maverick if they fancy the notion (and who are subject to smear campaigns from the Exclusive Brethren, just to add to the fun and games of the Australian political scene); the Natural Law Party (yogic flying and meditation as the solution to the world's problems), my chosen pick whenever they supply a candidate - I figure they can't do any worse than some of the serious ones; the Christian Democrats (god-botherers who are vocal about it); and whichever other interest groups crawl out of the woodwork to field a candidate.  I'll tend to rank them in order of obnoxiousness: the more annoying their policies, the less likely they are to get a high preference from me.  Usually by the time I've figured out who I like least, the choice of who I'm placing first is a no-brainer.

So, that's my vote sorted.  Technically Australia has a secret ballot, and I probably shouldn't be saying this in public.  Nuts to that.  I haven't given any candidate names, and who knows, the gods may be kind to me and offer up a decent joke candidate in my electorate (this has happened before - back in the late 1980s, one of the members of the Doug Anthony Allstars decided to run against Andrew Peacock (former Liberal leader, blue ribbon Liberal seat) as an independent candidate for a joke - he wound up garnering a fairly substantial chunk of the vote, and gave Peacock the first, last and only challenge to the seat the man had ever had). 

Now, if you'll all excuse me, I have to go and deal with the barrage of how-to-vote cards which I'm expecting to start arriving in the letterbox.

[1] Quick note for those who are new to Australian politics: the Liberal Party of Australia is actually the leading conservative party.  The party which is supposed to be socially radical and left-wing is the Australian Labor Party (or ALP) and the Australian Democrats are supposed to be somewhere between the two, "keeping the bastards honest".  In the current political configuration, the Liberals are right wing, the ALP are centre-right, and the Dems are vaguely centre-leftish (if that won't offend anyone). 
[2] Family First are a front party for the Assemblies of God group of megachurches, and they appear to be strongly in favour of theocracy.  I'm not.
[3] Pauline Hanson's One Nation party - White Australia Policy racism and back-to-the-fifties political nostalgia dressed up in hyperconservative suits.  Mostly a threat in rural areas, as in the cities most people are aware that people who aren't Caucasian don't eat babies for breakfast.
[4] Even more racist and conservative than One Nation.  Neo-nazi supremacism wrapped up in idiocy and attempting to disguise itself as patriotism.

Current Mood: cynical cynical
Back October 14th, 2007 Forward