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Patterson: Labor 7, Liberal 6, Greens 4 in ACT

The Canberra Times has published a poll of voting intention for the October 18 Australian Capital Territory election, covering 400 respondents in each of the three multi-member regions. The poll appears to confirm what might have been ascertained from anecdotal evidence and recent elections elsewhere: that Labor’s primary vote is down by as much as 10 per cent since the last election; that it has no chance of retaining its majority; and that the dividend from its decline is set to be reaped by the Greens, who have a quota in their own right in each electorate and are looking good for a second seat in the seven-seat Molonglo region. The table below shows results from both the poll and the 2004 election, with the number of quotas indicated in brackets.

Patterson
2004 Election
ALP LIB GRN OTH ALP LIB GRN OTH
Molonglo (7) 33% (2.6) 29% (2.3) 23% (1.8) 16% (1.3) 45.3% (3.6) 32.6% (2.6) 11.5% (0.9) 10.6% (0.9)
Brindabella (5) 38% (2.3) 37% (2.2) 18% (1.1) 7% (0.4) 45.7% (2.7) 40.0% (2.4) 7.3% (0.4) 6.6% (0.4)
Ginninderra (5) 34% (2.0) 34% (2.0) 16% (1.0) 16% (1.0) 50.1% (3.4) 32.4% (2.2) 8.2% (0.6) 7.6% (0.6)

Labor and Liberal seem assured of two seats in Molonglo and the Greens of one, but the remaining two are hard to pick. With seven seats on offer, the electorate has proved attractive to independent candidates including Liberal-turned-independents Richard Mulcahy (an incumbent) and Helen Cross (defeated in 2004), along with high-profile Queanbeyan mayor Frank Pangallo. The poll respectively has them on 2 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent, meaning there would need to be tight mutual preference flows if any of them are to be in the hunt (for what it’s worth, Pangallo has been approached by Labor in the past to run in Eden-Monaro). If the figures are accurate, the most likely result would be that the minor candidates’ preferences would spray around enough to deliver one of the final seats to Labor and another to the Greens. The figures from the five-member electorates point to straightforward results of two Labor, two Liberal and one Greens. That means the most likely outcome of the election is that Labor will survive as a minority government with Greens support (assuming a coalition of some description isn’t on the cards). The current numbers are Labor nine, Liberal seven and Greens one.

Further discussion at The-RiotACT.

UPDATE: Remiss of me not to have noticed the accompanying Canberra Times article which reports: “The Greens have made no secret that they would consider forming a coalition with either side of the political equation”. Hat tip to Oz in comments.

UPDATE 2 (5/10/08): The Sunday edition of the Canberra Times provides further figures on leadership perceptions, finding Jon Stanhope is preferred as leader by 41.6 per cent against 40.0 per cent for Zed Seselja. This compares with Stanhope’s 63 per cent to 19 per cent lead over then-Liberal leader Brendan Smyth shortly before the 2004 election. “Just over half” reckon Stanhope suffers from the foible du jour, arrogance.

UPDATE 3 (6/10/08): Adam Carr has some lovely maps at his Psephos website with colour-coded booth results for Labor, Liberal and the Greens.

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  • 1
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    This confirms the trend we are seeing all over the country. As it sinks in that Rudd meant what he said, that he is an economic conservative, and that the ALP under Rudd is a party of the centre and not of the left, a slab of Labor voters have defected to the left, ie to the Greens. In a PR system like the ACT, that will lead to minority ALP government dependent on the Greens. Elsewhere it will mean ALP governments re-elected by Green preferences. The next Tasmanian election will be very interesting, since Labor insists it will not do a deal with the Greens again. But the Libs are not profiting because Rudd’s monopoly of the centre leaves them bottled up on the right.

  • 2
    Jimbo Cool
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Wowee! First post on pollbludger – even if it is for the little old ACT election…Enough celebrating, to business:
    While on the one hand celebrating the early appearance of a poll with a decent sample size in the ACT, I’m pretty lairy about relying on it. The main problem is that there aint a pollster alive that can accurately predict the way preferences flow in Hare Clark. There’s no above the line voting, so the pollster who did this poll lost a lot of cred with me when he said “unless all the independents band together in preference swaps, it is unlikely that there would be an independent member holding the balance of power”. There’s no way they can band together as it’s not possible to do preference swaps in the ACT!
    The pollster also uses a unique method of distributing the undecided vote which at 9% is not insignificant.
    While I’ll concede that it is eminently possible for the Greens to win a seat in Ginninderra now that the Captain Underpants effect has worn off for Chief Minister Jon Stanhope (who hoovered up all left leaning votes in 2004), and theoretically possible to win one in Brindabella (although they’re a hard-bitten lot down there, I fancy it’s more likely that a third Liberal would win the fifth seat), I draw the line at two Greens in Molonglo.
    To win two seats they’d need to double their vote from 2004 (admittedly the poll gives them this) to around 22,000 first preference votes – given that they got around 24,000 FP votes for the Senate for the whole ACT in 2007, I’d say it’s unlikely. Even if they get a great big swag of votes, the problem they have is that they don’t have preferences coming from anywhere. Greens preferences go all over the place, but who preferences the Greens? This is particularly critical in Molonglo where the erstwhile leader of the Liberals, Zed Seselja, was only elected in 2004 due to a lucky split of votes between two Labor candidates. By rights in 2004 Labor should have had four members elected in Molonglo (they got 3.62 quotas on first prefs, the Libs 2.7 – both ended up with 3 members elected). Had the vote between Mr Barr and Mr Hettinger split 60/40 instead of 50/50 one of them would’ve got elected. Instead, Hettinger stalled in about the 15th count, Barr’s pref’s exhauseted and Seselja, by dint of about 200 votes, stayed ahead long enough to be elected on Hettinger’s preferences. Not sure what Democracy@work would say about that, but there you go.
    Even though I appear to have the floor, I’ll stop there – nonetheless if the Greens do win two seats in Molonlgo, I’ll eat my hat.
    My call for the election – 8 Libs (3 in Brindabella and Molonglo and 2 in Ginninderra), 7 Labour (2 in Brindabella, 3 in Molonglo and 2 in Ginninderra) and two Greens (Molonglo and Ginninderra) which equals a Labor minority government. Outside chance is independent Mark Parton rides his luck in Ginninderra and gets up ahead of the Green – in this scenario I’d back a Liberal minority government (but it’s a long shot)

  • 3
    Jimbo Cool
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Bugger! Beaten by Adam (not really) In Canberra and moderation!.I was really first!

  • 4
    Oz
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Well by definition being an “economic conservative” puts Rudd and Labor on the right, where they’ve been for a while. The only way you can call them “centrist” is if you shift the scale across.

    Weird thing about The Greens is that whilst most Green voters would be what you would call typical lefties and more recently those lefties who’ve defected from Labor, but there’s also a decent proportion who might not agree with their economic policies but want to erode some of their middle/upper-class guilt.

  • 5
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Oz, you can debate the semantics, but the political consequence is the same. Labor leaks votes to the Greens, but doesn’t leak to the Libs = Labor stays in office, but increasingly dependent on Green votes either directly or indirectly.

  • 6
    Oz
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    And the circle of life* continues…

    *Read as “ridiculous FPP system”.

  • 7
    Winston
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the Canberra Times are using WA company Patterson Research to do their polling. Keith Patterson must have some good connections.

  • 8
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    no-one in Australia has a FPP (if you first past the post) system.

  • 9
    Oz
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    *IRV.

    FPP doesn’t even make sense in that context, my bad.

  • 10
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    what’s IRV?

  • 11
    J-D
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    IRV stands for ‘instant run-off voting’. It’s common US terminology for what Australians call ‘preferential voting’. (Common UK terminology is ‘AV’ for ‘alternative vote’.)

  • 12
    Gusface
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    william
    thanx for the link to the riotact-great site eh what! I love their newbie to seasoned rioter poster ranking BTW

    as an ex forrest primary (I used to play on capital hill-now the site of the new parl house) kid i have a deep fondness for toytown :)

    that said this election will see the greens increase their footprint in the political scene at the expense of the libs.A lot of my public circus mates have expressed an almost evangelical belief in the greens-pure as the driven snow and all that.I expect some solid gains from this demographic

    the rot stops here, as the electorate federally probably has bigger issues like the WEC to worry about.

  • 13
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I see. Well since we’re in Australia, let’s stick to Australian usage, shall we?
    So why does Oz consider preferential voting to be “ridiculous”?

  • 14
    Oz
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Well you gave a good example. Labor can be leaking votes to The Greens all over the place be in WA, NSW, federally or where-ever else but they’re unlikely to actually get representation.

    Multi-member proportionality is far more democratic and representative as it doesn’t simply sideline the first preference votes of, in most electorates, the majority of voters.

  • 15
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    That’s got nothing to do with preferential voting. That’s to do with single-member constituencies. You can have preferential or non-preferential single-member constituency voting, or you can have preferential or non-preferential PR.

  • 16
    Oz
    Posted Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I was under the impression that IRV/preferential voting were only applicable in single-member electorates.

    When talking about multi-member constiuencies it’s called a single transferable vote.

    But this is all academic and some what pointless? It’s pretty clear what I was talking, the current electoral system for the lower house in Australia and its states.

  • 17
    Brian Walters
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Dear Jimbo Cool and others,
    I just checked, and the Greens vote for the whole of the ACT at the 2007 Federal election was not “around 24,000″, but 48,384 (going off the ABC Senate figures, rather than the AEC figures). This amounts to just under 22% of the ACT wide vote.
    Jimbo asks (rhetorically) “who preferences the Greens?” Generally they do very well (better than any other party) on second preference votes – although most of the time that’s cold comfort. Most Labor and Liberal voters, after preferencing their own party, put the Greens ahead of their traditional political foes.
    There are many vagaries in an election campaign, and 2 weeks is a very long time in politics, but these figures from the Canberra Times suggest that it will be an interesting night on 18th October.
    Cheers.

  • 18
    Oz
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/poll-results-no-comfort-to-labor-or-liberals/1325259.aspx

    “The Greens have made no secret that they would consider forming a coalition with either side of the political equation.

    However, Mr Rattenbury says he is ”willing to work with a party that shared [Greens'] values and visions and is willing to work with us on our program as well as theirs,” but he will not make a decision on whom to support as chief minister before the election.”

  • 19
    mexicanbeemer
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    I’m becoming a little tried with Greens complaining about single member TPP voting, it has worked for years and just because some countries do things differently does not mean we need to follow, what next since America has elected an Idiot twice should we!

    This is looking a close result, I’m curious to know if the management of the Bushfires a few years ago are still an issue or has the community moverd onto other matters.

  • 20
    Oz
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Indeed, just because we’ve done something for years does not mean we should continue in that same fashion forever. The global trend is towards proportionality, I see it only as a matter of time before there’s enough momentum for it here.

  • 21
    mexicanbeemer
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    But does it produce better Government

  • 22
    Oz
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    “Better” is subjective. It produces more representative government, which I thought was the point of “democracy”.

  • 23
    Fagin
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    It won’t be long before the ALP is delivering seats – via ITS preferences – to the Greens seats in parliaments across Oz.

    It’s not so much “green” issues driving the Greens forward; it’s the fact that both parties couldn’t give a toss about Joe Average and his community. They’ve completely lost the plot.

    Gillard’s fine impersonation of Margaret Thatcher hasn’t help matters for the ALP. Smash them teacher unions, sister. Iron Julie seems to be just as keen as Howard was in forking out buckets of public shekels to the Exclusive Brethren sect.

    The ALP is on the same slow boat to nowhere as the Libnats.

  • 24
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Oz, if you avoided using other people’s political vocabularies in a discussion of Australian politics, you would be less confused. In Australia we use *preferential voting* for both single-member constituencies (eg the House of Reps) and in multi-member constituencies (eg the Senate and the ACT Assembly). It works perfectly well for both. At the federal level and in NSW, Vic, SA and WA, we have single-member constituencies for the lower house and PR for the upper house. In Tas we have it the other way round. In Qld and NT we have single-member constituencies for the lower house and no upper house. In the ACT we have PR for the lower house and no upper house.

    My preference is for what we have at the federal level: single-member constituencies for the lower house and PR for the upper house, both elected preferentially. This usually gives us stable governments with majority support in the lower house, and an opportunity for minor parties to gain representation in the upper house. This avoids the excesses of PR as seen in places like Belgium and Israel, and the unrepresentative parliament and one-party monopoly produced by non-preferential single-member constituency elections in the UK. The only changes I would make would be:

    * fixed four year terms for all lower houses
    * fixed eight-year terms for all upper houses, with half elected every four years
    * an upper house for Qld
    * swapping the electoral system for Tas’s two houses so they are the same as the other states
    * an Australian head of state

    Our system gives minor parties opportunities proportionate to their strength. The DLP, the Democrats and the Greens have all in their time held the balance of power in the Senate, and in some of the state upper houses. It is much harder for minor parties (except the Nats) to win lower house seats, but that is appropriate because the main function of lower houses is to provide stable majority government.

  • 25
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Oh, I would also abolish the territories. The NT should chose between statehood and annexation by Qld or WA. The ACT should be re-incorporated into NSW. The original rationale for the ACT was to prevent the national capital being under the control of parochial NSW politicians, on the model of DC in the US. That made some sense, though not much. But self-government has now placed the national capital under the control of parochial ACT politicians, which makes no sense at all. Why does Canberra merit self-government when Newcastle does not?

  • 26
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    It’s not so much “green” issues driving the Greens forward; it’s the fact that both parties couldn’t give a toss about Joe Average and his community. They’ve completely lost the plot.

    What tosh. The major parties totally obsessed with “Joe Average and his community”. That’s why they’ve relentlessly moved to the centre, which is where Joe Average and his community actually live. This fantasy that the community is really wildly left-wing but that major-party politicians are “out of touch” is absurd. In fact they are far too “in touch” most of the time – driven by polls and focus groups, terrified of alienating Joe Average and the marginal seats where he lives. All the ALP has done is followed the voters to the centre. That’s how Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd won their elections. If Fagin would rather stay in opposition for ever, he’s welcome to it.

  • 27
    David Walsh
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Oh, I would also abolish the territories. The NT should chose between statehood and annexation by Qld or WA.

    I believe Adelaide is closer to Darwin than Brisbane or Perth.

  • 28
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Fine, they can join SA then. Actually I think everything north of the Tropic of Capricorn should become a new state called North Australia.

  • 29
    Glen
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Adam if ACT is put into NSW then Melbourne should become the Capital City again.

  • 30
    Oz
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    People like Keating can bleat about moving the capital around but the people and infrastructure are way too entrenched to move it all simply on hubris.

  • 31
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    No Glen I like APH where it is. Where would it fit in Melbourne?

  • 32
    Glen
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Point is Melbourne was the Capital and would have been had those stupid Sydney people not got the picture that Melbourne was and still is the main hub of Australia but especially so back in those days and so we had to have Canberra!!

    I dislike Canberra!

  • 33
    steve
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    31 Where would it fit in Melbourne?

    Perhaps they could construct the new APH on the site of the MCG then it would certainly become a place of interest to all Australians.

  • 34
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Strictly speaking Melbourne was never the capital of Australia anyway. S125 says “Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it meet at the Seat of Government.” So from 1901 to 1913 there was no Seat of Government, just an interim site where Parliament sat. From 1913 to 1928 there was officially a Seat of Government at Canberra, but Parliament didn’t meet there because nothing was built.

  • 35
    Tom the first and best
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    If the ACT Legislative Assembly was expanded to 21 seats (3×7) would the resulting shrink in Molonglo be likely to make it more Green by losing less green areas?

  • 36
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    That would depend on how the boundaries are drawn. Does anyone have a map of the ACT showing the strength of the Green vote by polling place?

  • 37
    pokelyle
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    So the Greens are a) almost certain to hold the balance of power (given that the Liberals need an impossible swing for a majority), and b) are open to forming a coalition.

    So we could see the first Green cabinet minister in Australia by the end of October. That would be, I think, the first time a nationwide third party (that is, not Labor or Coalition) has ever held a ministry in any government. Neato.

    And, of course, the Canberra Times article says that the Greens COULD get as many as five or six seats, although that’s unlikely. But that the possibility exists at all is exciting…it’s psephologically possible that the Greens could become the second-largest party in the Assembly. Descending into wishful thinking, given that the Greens draw their votes disproportionately from Labor, any increase in Greens representation would take seats away from Labor to a greater extent…so, while it’s very unlikely, it’s not outside the bounds of possibility, as mapped out by that esteemed journal, the Canberra Times, that we could have six Greens, six Liberals and five Labor, the results of which should be obvious.

    Of course, as I said: very unlikely.

  • 38
    juliem
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Adam @ 25,

    Oh, I would also abolish the territories. The ACT should be re-incorporated into NSW. The original rationale for the ACT was to prevent the national capital being under the control of parochial NSW politicians, on the model of DC in the US. That made some sense, though not much. But self-government has now placed the national capital under the control of parochial ACT politicians, which makes no sense at all. Why does Canberra merit self-government when Newcastle does not?

    & Glen @ 29,

    Glen
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink
    Adam if ACT is put into NSW then Melbourne should become the Capital City again.

    I couldn’t get rid of my NSW rego on my car fast enough when we moved into the ACT in January this year. If I were a long term Canberra resident and this ever happened, I would be spitting bricks. Cheers, Glen, something we can agree upon :) …….

  • 39
    juliem
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Adam @ 28,

    Adam in Canberra
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink
    Fine, they can join SA then. Actually I think everything north of the Tropic of Capricorn should become a new state called North Australia.

    You are in fine form this morning ;-) …. something gotten under your skin today? ;-)

  • 40
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    The Sunday edition of the Canberra Times provides further figures on leadership perceptions, finding Jon Stanhope is preferred as leader by 41.6 per cent against 40.0 per cent for Zed Seselja. This compares with Stanhope’s 63 per cent to 19 per cent lead over then-Liberal leader Brendan Smyth shortly before the 2004 election. “Just over half” reckon Stanhope suffers from the foible du jour, arrogance.

  • 41
    juliem
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Steve @ 33,

    steve
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:00 am |

    31 Where would it fit in Melbourne?

    Perhaps they could construct the new APH on the site of the MCG then it would certainly become a place of interest to all Australians.

    The MCG is already hallowed ground and considered a holy shrine by some of us :) ….. add the capital into the mix in Melbourne and yes, there would be truely no reason at all to bother with anything north of Albury ;-)

  • 42
    juliem
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Adam @ 36,

    Adam in Canberra
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink
    That would depend on how the boundaries are drawn. Does anyone have a map of the ACT showing the strength of the Green vote by polling place?

    Maybe Anthony has this? Just guessing, that seems like the sort of thing that the ABC would have in their files …..

  • 43
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Julie I don’t know if you were in Australia when self-government was introduced in the ACT. Canberra people hated it, since they knew it was just a ploy by the federal government to end their privileged status as wards of the Commonwealth and make them pay for their own services. My question stands: what’s so special about Canberra that it deserves self-government, when other regional centres are ruled from the state capitals? The only thing special about Canberra is that the federal parliament sits there. But there’s no logical connection between that and giving Canberrans their own toy parliament, with its own layer of redundant administration. Ottawa, Wellington and Pretoria get by fine just being ordinary cities, so would Canberra.

  • 44
    Glen
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    But there is no logical reason for having Canberra as the Capital city!

    Look at Europe did any of those countries make small and obscure cities their capitals?

    NO!

    London
    Berlin
    Rome
    Paris

    Now the fact is Melbourne would have been had those fools in Sydney have known their place, Melbourne is the culture capital of Australia and the sports capital and it was the seat of Parliament for decades and the prime city of Australia well into the 60/70s! Its only Tourism that has made Sydney popular but Melbourne was and is a hub and it should be the Capital.

    Anyway if Melbourne couldnt have been to please the Sydney siders they should have picked Albury instead of Canberra because then they wouldnt have had to waste money on a whole new city.

  • 45
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    That’s because those countries grew up organically over the centuries and coalesced around their royal capitals. Australia, like the US, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa, is a country of fairly recent white settlement. All have either built new capitals (Washington, Canberra, Brasilia) and used smaller cities (Ottawa, Wellington, Pretoria). They didn’t want their largest city to be their new capital, because (a) they couldn’t build new national government edifices in the middle of existing cities (b) they didn’t want their capitals to be sites of mob violence, like Paris and (c) they didn’t want to cause intercity rivalries by choosing an existing city (like New York or Philadelphia) as their capital. India and Pakistan built new capitals at New Delhi and Islamabad for the same reasons, and now Nigeria has done the same at Abuja, and Malaysia is moving most of its capital city functions out to Putrajaya for the same reasons.

  • 46
    juliem
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Adam @ 43, No, I wasn’t in Australia when self government was introduced. As for Pretoria et. al., the problem in this instance is that Canberrans and other ACT residents would have to bloody put up with a NSW postcode if that bridge were crossed. [ Can you tell I am a VIC at heart? ;-) ]

  • 47
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Such cruel oppression…

  • 48
    mrodowicz
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Adam@24 & 26

    It’s in fact the combination of flawed ideologies and a poll driven mentality, that puts the major parties out of touch with the electorate. It is the blind faith in free-market forces, coupled with token populist policies designed to appease sections of the electorate, which usually results in a distorted policy platform riddled with inconsistency and deprived of any vision. Both the major parties are guilty of this.

    As regards, the SM electorate system in the Australian lower house and most states, the system does not work as fine as you make out. The dichotomy between safe and marginal seats, disenfranchises sizeable potions of the electorate, and leads to re-enforce and promote cynical vote-buying policies. Take for example, the dismal public transport system in the North-West area of Sydney. Were the areas of Castle Hill and Baulkham Hills marginal seats, half-decent public transport would have arrived years ago. PR would deliver a certain equality, that Single Member electorates cannot.

    As regards electoral reform, why would you want to see upper house politicians in the whole country elected to 8 year terms (as in NSW and SA)? Why should anyone be elected for a tenure of 8 years? The upper houses don’t needs any special consideration – 4 year terms are quite sufficient, and the public should equally have the right to toss out upper house MP’s if they’re not performing within a reasonable timeframe. Further to this, the Senate is not proportionally representative, but usually only semi-proportional in its representation. Fixed 4 year terms for both houses would reduce the 14.3% Senate quota to 7.7%, and therefore allow for more proportional outcomes. A PR system should deliver proportionally representative outcomes.

  • 49
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    mrodowicz

    Para 1: So when you say politicians are “out of touch”, you really mean they are out of touch with you and people who think like you, and with the policies you think they ought to be following, rather than out of touch with the majority of voters, who are ignorant yokels easily fooled by token populist gestures. Well that may be so, but I think the elites can generally look after themselves – it’s the yokels who need the things that government can do. Politicians who want to hold their seats and stay on the government benches have a professional and personal interest in being “in touch” with what voters want, and my observation (from up fairly close) is that most of them are unhealthily preoccupied with what the voters are thinking on any given day. That’s one of the arguments for 4-year terms. We might get at least 2 years in which governments are not driven by polls and the media cycle.

    Para 2: Yes, that is a weakness of single-member systems. I’m not altogether opposed to the German / NZ mixed-member system, where you have some SM members and some PR members in the same house, provided there are more of the former than the latter and the threshhold is set fairly high – at say 5%. It’s a matter of trading representation against stability.

    Para 3: I think there are merits in having an upper house with longer and overlapping mandates compared to the lower house. They have more independence and function better as a house of review. I don’t see any sign that voters in NSW and SA resent their Leg Councils having 8-year terms. I doubt many people know or care much about their upper houses.

  • 50
    Ryan
    Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    SNIP: Off-topic comment deleted. See Article 1 in Comment Moderation Guidelines – The Management.

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