Friday, November 23, 2007

Balancing the senate

It's a bit late to be talking about how we could vote tomorrow, but I think this is important so I'll write it anyway. I don't want to be politically partisan here. All I want to do is talk about how you COULD vote in the upper house.

As we know, the senate is currently unbalanced. The Liberal party has enough senators (38 out of 76) to block any bill they desire. This is downright dangerous if the Liberals win the lower house and a serious annoyance that could cause a double dissolution if Labor is elected to the lower house. The senate is meant to be a house of review not a rubber stamp. The most harmonious and sensible state for the senate to be in is to have at least 2 independents or minor party senators who hold the balance of power, and hopefully who are distributed equally between the left and right hand sides of the house.

Given the current right-wing bias of the senate, even Liberal voters should seriously consider an alternative to the Liberal party or something even further right – perhaps something centrist like the Democrats.

So here's a summary of the most common South Australian above-the-line votes that are likely to occur and what they'd mean. ABC election analyst Antony Green has a Senate Calculator to help predict the likely senate outcomes in each state, which is well worth checking out.

Liberal party
Antony Green estimates the Liberal primary vote at 47% in SA, which would likely see three Liberal and two Labor senators elected with the remaining place being fought between the Greens, Nick Xenophon and Family First. That will do absolutely nothing to help balance the senate.

Labor party
At the very least you'd help restore some balance.

Colin Endian (CCC)Climate Change Coalition (CCC)
This just happens to be my favourite choice. Their published preferences[source: pp. 24-25] are in almost exactly the order I would choose, except that they listed Senator Online after the Labor party, effectively excluding them. Because it's a minor party, The most likely outcome if CCC fails to pick up enough votes or preferences to get a place, is that the vote would be transferred to the Greens, Democrats or Labor, in that order.

Joel Clark (SOL)Senator Online (SOL)
I've already written about this already, because it's a fascinating possibility. A SOL senator doesn't offer any promise to balance the senate, but it does offer the prospect of the lower house having to carefully plan their bills to suit the majority view, not just the senators. It would likely strengthen the senate as a house of review.

If SOL fails to get enough votes to fill a senate spot, their registered preferences are likely to make your vote end up electing either the third Labor senator on the Labor ticket (most likely) or the first Greens senator on the Greens ticket (second most likely). See their preferences[source: pp. 28-29] and if you don't like them in that order you can always vote below the line...

Nick Xenophon (IND)Xenophon
Independent Nick Xenophon is hoping to reproduce his state government senate result in the federal senate. I'd recommend voting for him below the line or not at all unless you fancy having a Family First senator, because that's precisely where his preferences flow.[source: pp. 40-44] In the state election Nick had enough primary votes left over to elect the second person on his ticket. That's unlikely to happen at the federal level and his leftover primary votes will most likely end up with the Family First or the Greens, in that order.

Sarah Hanson-Young (GRN)Greens
Like the Climate Change Coalition, a Greens senator will be good news for the environment but also simply a less rightwing option and an ideal party to hold the balance of power. If the Greens miss out on a senate place their votes will be transferred to most likely result in a CCC, Democrat, SOL or Labor senator in that order.[source: pp. 12-13]

Ruth Russell (DEM)Democrats
The Democrats are similarly a less rightwing option and an ideal party to hold the balance of power. If the Democrats miss out on a senate place their votes will be transferred to most likely result in a CCC, SOL, Greens or Liberal senator in that order.[source: pp. 32-33]

Happy ballot-casting!

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