17 August 2010

How-to-vote cards (Keeping your member "local" part the last)

I have been amazed by some things this election. I was rendered speechless when I heard that Family First, the not-yet-militant Christian extremists, had been attempting to do a preference deal in the Senate with the Australian Sex Party. Laugh? I nearly spontaneously combusted!

I still hear staunch Liberal voters who claim that economic management will be better off with them than the ALP. That would be worth voting for, if it wasn't for the fact that the current bunch of Libs have promised spending out of control and the leadership sees economics as a tedious footnote to political administration.

More hilarious still, is the fact that the ALP really don't get how they got it right on economic management during the global financial crisis, whether by fluke or design. Why not make this an election issue? It's a guaranteed vote winner, although it might be evidence that the ALP isn't really interested in economics either. I would think it amazing if the ALP felt that voters were turned off by stuff as mundane as economics.

One of my first year economics lecturers, by the way, said that politics is merely applied economics. He was, of course 100% right. He then went on to crack a joke about the professor of the Animal Husbandry Department who was caught doing exactly that, which had us lewd first years rolling in the aisles. Those were the days. He now pops up on ABC Breakfast News occasionally to read the newspaper headlines.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about voters in Australia is their inability to think for themselves. Voting has become a popularity contest in Australia, where if you like a political party, or even just a political leader, people just blindly follow how-to-vote cards. I've already blogged at length about this, but the number of people who's opinions and thought processes that I respect who seem so blasé about the whole thing is really annoying.

So this last part of my series looks at how much impact that these have. And why you should pay absolutely no interest to them whatsoever.

It has been said by some that we have an electoral process similar to the US electoral college. You elect your local candidate according to who you'd like to see in power. Someone suggested to me that the local member should really not give two shits about their local electorate, because they are there for "the greater good" of this nation. Now this is all well and good, except that in the US electoral college, they pack up and go home as soon as a president is chosen. They don't stick their neck into voting on legislation and can't put forward private member bills. Nor do they do this for a full electoral term.

So how important are these?

Obviously, they're pretty important. Unlike tobacco companies, political parties have no pretence about why the pretty pictures, slogans, branding and colours are displayed so prominently: If they didn't work, then the question should be asked, why bother spending the money?

So with that in mind, let's look a little closer at them. And a final look at Jagajaga in the process, going into the election.

How-to-vote cards are designed to captivate one's attention, focussing on the party putting them out and relegating the local candidate to "incidental". It's even worse in the Senate, where by voting above the line, one doesn't even need to see the names of the candidates being put forward.

Parties and candidates do deals to get up the preference ladder on each others' how-to-vote cards. It is here that I will focus today, because some of these deals simply should not be being done.

Let's look at Jagajaga.

Joe Sgarlata, Family First

Family First have not put their how-to-vote cards online. I'm tipping that theirs reads 1 Sgarlata, 2 Bauch, 3 Macklin, 4 Kearney, 5 Harris.

So I'll regale you with this rather informative video that Family First put out. It looks all rather good, until they poke in a gobsmackingly scurrilous lie about heroin injecting rooms:

Family First: 0 stars.

Jenny Macklin, Australian Labor Party

Big picture of Julia Gillard on Macklin's how-to-vote card and right up the top, too. Disappointingly, Macklin has gone for Family First over the Liberal Party.

This is something that I hate about preference deals. While it may be expeditious to do a preference deal with wingnuts like Family First, you're effectively saying that the policies of wackos are preferable to those of the relatively more balanced Liberal Party:


Joh Bauch, Liberal Party

Bauch has preferenced Family First second. He is a DISGRACE!!!:


Chris Kearney, Australian Greens

The Greens also haven't uploaded their how-to-vote cards. They might surprise Macklin with 1 Kearney, 2 Harris, 3 Macklin, 4 Bauch, 5 Sgarlata. Although I doubt it. The Greens and the ALP sew up preferences tighter than Bornwyn Bishop's hair.

So I'm putting a video in for them, too. The Greens advertising has been pretty boring, but on Gruen Nation, a contestant in The Pitch did this:

Much better than their advertising. A classic, in fact: 5 stars.

Peter Harris, Secular Party

Harris has almost gone for the reverse donkey vote. No real surprises:

Expected outcome.

Well that's it from me on Jagajaga. Enjoy your electioneering, think before you vote and tune into my next post which will be on the Senate.


Sean Wright said...

I have found the vote below the line site most helpful for senate voting choices, also digging through some of the information on the AEC site it interesting to see deals done between climate skeptics and right wing Christians.

But yes its sad to see it reduced to a popularity contest - which is of course in the interests of the big players as the can through the money required at the electorate

Dikkii said...

I still haven't checked out the vote below the line website, yet. I hear that it's pretty good.

I didn't really notice it at the time I was blogging this post, but it is very much a slick commoditisation of a product where you inadvertently choose your local salesperson along the way.

The preference deals in the Senate are always interesting. I'm actually probably more interested in these than in the House. And is there any depth that FF (or even the CDs) won't stoop to? The attempted Australian Sex Party one certainly made me stand up and take notice, even if I found it unbelievable.