So, The Senate Group Voting Tickets are in, and available on the AEC website. There are so many candidates and groups to go through, and it will take some time to really work out what the impact of all of this could be on the results in the senate, but there are already some obvious decisions to comment on (and if you’re a progressive voter, decisions to be very concerned about).
I’m going to start with the great state of Victoria, because it’s my home, and I’m a parochial Vic.
There are 97 candidates, and a veritable cup-field of Groups above the line.
The AEC has a copy of the Group Voting tickets
Probably the most astonishing event is the failure of 5 registered groups to lodge their group voting tickets, which means they forfeit their box above the line. With over 90% of voters in the larger states choosing to vote above the line, failing to get a box above the line because you didn’t get your group voting ticket can only be described as an absolutely epic fail (assuming that sheer incompetence is responsible of course).
I would be curious to find out if this has ever happened to a registered political party before. It is strange that it has not only happened in Victoria in 2013, but to 5 separate groups, and with no failures to lodge occurring in any other states or territories (as far as I’m aware, I haven’t seen the WA GVTs yet, because they weren’t on the AEC website when I last checked).
The groups who failed to lodge their tickets in Victoria were:
The Liberal Democrats (formerly known as the Liberty & Democracy party, and strong, seemingly US-style Libertarians)
Australian Republicans (this has nothing to so with the Australian Republic Movement, and is a party fronted by Peter Consandine)
The newly registered Smokers Rights Party
The Stop the Greens Group.
It is a basic responsibility of a political party’s Registered Officer, or Deputy Registered Officer for their state to lodge their party’s group voting ticket with the AEC, 24 hours after the declaration of the ballot for the senate. The deadline was 12pm yesterday. I was the DRO for the Australian Democrats in 2007, and so I had to lodge the party’s group voting tickets for Victoria, and I made sure I got there an hour before the AEC’s office opened so I could get the ticket in, and deal with any issues that may have arisen. I wasn’t the only one there that early either, there were people from the ALP already there.
The point is, that although the actual preference negotiations are hard and incredibly stressful, it’s actually dead easy to lodge the tickets.
Or is it? The National Registered Officer for the Liberal Democrats, claimed they were “overwhelmed”, which is why they failed to lodge their ticket in Victoria. (See the following capture that was tweeted to me when I got into a twitter debate about this), and his exact words were “There were GVTs for four parties to submit in each state and the task just overwhelmed us”.
Why the hell is the Registered Officer of the Liberal Democrats involved in submitting the GVTS of *four* other parties? WTF?! It would be easy to conclude from that statement that some of these parties may not be entirely genuine?
Following this, is the, quite frankly highly dubious decision of The Australian Sex Party, which portrays itself as a socially progressive, civil libertarian party, to preference the One Nation party ahead of the ALP, the Greens and the Liberal party in Victoria.
They seem to have done some cross-state preference swaps, as they’ve preferenced both the Liberal Democrats and One Nation ahead of the Greens and the major parties in NSW, too (where One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is now in with a real shot of getting re-elected after getting a huge number of preference flows – I will blog about this when I tackle NSW next), and could have understandably expected to receive preferences from these parties in return in Victoria, where they had the best chance of winning, if only these groups hadn’t failed to lodge their tickets. In fact, the Sex Party seemed to have expected, at the very least, Liberal Democrat preferences in Victoria, with their twitter account complaining:
— australian sex party (@aussexparty) August 18, 2013
This means the Sex Party have preferenced the far-right One Nation for absolutely nothing, and could end up helping Hanson get back in and potentially with the balance of power in the Senate.
What is left of my former political party, the Australian Democrats, has not covered themselves in glory, either, as they have given their preferences to fundamentalist, right-wing party Family First again ahead of the Greens and the major parties. The only small consolation is that their vote is unlikely to be high enough to make any difference in Victoria, and I expect they’ll poll less than 0.5%, given their lack or lower house candidates, already tarnished brand, and poor position on the senate ballot paper.
I think the most likely result in Victoria is 2 ALP candidates, 1 Green and 3 Coalition candidates. However, there could end up only being 2 Coalition candidates with the final spot going to one of the religious right candidates (most likely the DLP, as they get Group A Rise Up Australia’s preferences, although Family First may be able to outpoll DLP and Rise Up Australia’s combined vote due to the DLP’s poor spot on the ballot paper).
If you want to vote below the line, check out:
However, it may be better to be safe & not risk a small error making your vote informal and just vote for the Greens or the ALP in the senate in Victoria. The Drug Law Reform also have a safe ticket (and preference the Greens).