Isn’t a vote for the Greens a wasted vote?

Several of my friends are Labor voters, despite disagreeing with 90% of what the party actually does in office. “Why waste my vote by voting for the Greens?” they ask. “They’ll never be in power!”

For progressive ALP voters there’s a very simple answer to this question: because voting Greens will make the ALP a more compassionate, humanitarian party.

If you vote ALP regardless of how far to the right they lunge, then they know they can ignore you while they chase conservative votes. If you vote Greens and preference ALP, then you tell them that they need to represent progressive views or risk losing seats to the Greens. They’ll precisely two choices then: either adapt by paying attention to what you want and stopping emulating Tony Abbott – or you, along with other progressive voters, will eventually end up electing Greens MPs. (And they’ll hold the ALP accountable to your views in Parliament.)

The reason the ALP keeps lunging to the right is that it thinks its main competition is the Liberals, and it’s trying to appeal to their voters. For the same reason, the more serious the competition it gets from the Greens (by ALP voters abandoning it for the Greens, the same way swinging voters abandon it for the Liberals), the more it’s going to have to compete for progressive votes – which means the ALP starting to actually listen to you! It means the ALP proposing policies with which you might actually agree.

This will not happen if you just vote ALP regardless of what it actually does.

By voting 1 for the Greens and preferencing the ALP, your vote is just as strong at keeping Tony Abbott out – but you also, critically, make the ALP less like him. Julia Gillard emulating John Howard? That’s what you get when you let the ALP take you for granted.

Also, remember: whichever party you vote 1 for gets the funding for next time. By giving your first preference to a major party, you’re helping lock in more of the same policies. By giving it to the Greens, you’re helping to give them real competition.

PS As for “my vote’s not going to make a difference” – it’s going to make just as much difference as every other person’s. You have the same vote as Julia Gillard, or Tony Abbott, or Bob Brown. Pick the one you dislike the most: you can cancel theirs out. If you waste your vote, you’re in effect giving an extra vote to the people you like the least.

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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67 responses to “Isn’t a vote for the Greens a wasted vote?

  1. Well said. I had considered voting Green and giving preference to Liberal over Labor as a way of sending a message to Labor, but that option is certainly fraught with problems, not the least of which is that Abbott’s policy on border protection is likely to be worse.

    The funding issue is one that I had not realised before and I think knowing that will certainly influence my vote in the future.

  2. I don’t understand why people don’t understand this.

  3. confessions

    because voting Greens will make the ALP a more compassionate, humanitarian party.

    This assumes that we are in the majority, whereas I’d argue the opposite. Labor’s working class, socially conservative base are precisely the people who want a more inhumane AS policy, and the sort of people who would drift to the Libs if boats were left to become a festering election sore. Lefties in the party can always go to the Greens if Labor’s policies turn shit. I don’t think Labor cares really.

  4. “This assumes that we are in the majority”

    No, it doesn’t. Every vote for the Greens tells Labor there’s one more person whose vote they’re losing pandering to the socially conservative side. It pulls them back towards the left. The more people who do it, the stronger that pull.

    If you vote Labor regardless of how far to the right they drift, you are endorsing that move.

  5. confessions

    If that were the case we’d be seeing Gillard trying to get back and keep those voters who recently told pollsters they’d vote Greens first. She isn’t, the reason being that she knows we don’t matter in the overall scheme of things. She knows that even if we vote Greens first, we aren’t going to preference Liberal or some other rightwing party second.

    She also knows that with compulsory voting, the battle for government comes down to that 20% of swing voters who decide every election. You are overstating the significance of the progressive vote.

  6. @confessions: you’re probably right, 20% of swing voters probably do decide who wins the election.

    people voting green instead of labour decide what labour does after that election.

    voting for the greens, then preferencing labour above liberal re-enforces that people want more progressive social policy, and are willing to vote accordingly. as this post clearly explains, with any luck labour will realise this if they make it into power because of preferences from greens’ voters.

    also, in the senate voting green makes a huge difference, because 18% of the primary vote can translate into big numbers in the senate, capable of affecting real change. labour will have to attempt to secure their support, because if they create policy that makes the liberals vote with them, it will make it obvious that they’re practically the same party.

    polling indicates that 18% of australia currently plan on putting greens [1], but i don’t think that’s representative of the number of people that would align themselves with their positions on most policies. i feel (and i will admit i have no evidence to back this up) that there are a lot of people out there that agree far more with the greens than the labour and liberal parties, who still say they’re voting labour because they, like you, feel a vote for the greens is “wasted.”

    also, i like to believe that it’s more important to appeal to the 18% of the population that identifies as ‘greens’ voters (and those who agree with their policies), as opposed to the happy-clappy fundamentalist religious zealots of all types.

  7. “She isn’t, the reason being that she knows we don’t matter in the overall scheme of things. “

    She isn’t, because she thinks the big old parties can still kill the rise of the Greens through a mixture of voter apathy and ignorance, and outright ALP lies.

    The only way to counter her assumptions about those Lib/Lab swing voters being the important ones is to stand up to them and help build the Greens vote.

    Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  8. Blast Tyrant

    Confessions: Labor’s working class, socially conservative base are precisely the people who want a more inhumane AS policy

    I’m not sure exactly what is meant by that, but i get the feeling that most swinging voters are more middle class. That’s what they appeared to be on that Insite show a couple of months ago.

    Also, most unions and unionists, especially in blue collar industries really only begrudgingly stick with the ALP, they generally endorse better treatment of refugees and same sex marriage rights. Also, they’re against the current Work Choices Lite, so are hardly about to drift over to Abbott on this either.

  9. confessions

    BT: I don’t know what swinging voters are, but would assume they are a cross section of society, not just middle class.

    The working class went to Labor after Workchoices, but as i said, if AS were to become an election issue they could just as well drift back to the Libs. FWIW I don’t think AS have as much salience as the issue did in 2001 because of the terrorism then. Labor probably just want the issue off the table because it’s drowning out the issues it wants to fight on.

    If Labor sell out on climate change I’ll probably just vote independent.

  10. Just out of interest, Confessions, what would the Greens have to do to win your vote? (Since advocating almost all the principles and policies in which you believe apparently isn’t enough.)

  11. confessions

    As I’ve said before, I’ve voted Greens on past occaisions. As I’ve also said before I am very disappointed with the Greens since Labor won government.

    I am dissappointed that they voted against putting a price on GHGEs, I’m also disappointed that they chose to vote against the government’s means testing of PHI the first time around, because they think it should be scrapped altogether, and I’m disappointed with the cheap populism, esp by Bob Brown. If he was to go then I might think differently about them.

  12. “they voted against putting a price on GHGEs”

    You mean they voted against the ETS that wouldn’t actually have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions and would’ve sent vast sums of public money to our worst polluters to enable them to continue to pollute? The ETS that Labor drafted to appeal to the Liberals under Turnbull, but that Labor refused to even discuss with the Greens?

    Sadly, we’re better off with nothing than what Labor offered.

    Not sure what you mean by PHI.

  13. confessions

    Private health insurance – that 30% rebate you get for taking it out.

    Btw Essential poll out. Gillard is getting a pretty strong tick of approval from labor and greens voters. I can’t see that lasting long if she continues to play mini-me Howard.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/07/05/essential-report-gillard-attributes/

  14. Ah, that PHI. Well, it is ridiculous, I don’t blame them for opposing it full-stop. I expect that the reason they voted against the bill is that the ALP once again absolutely refused to negotiate with them.

    If you’re trying to negotiate policy and the government keeps flatly refusing to talk with you at all, why should you vote for their legislation?

  15. Blast Tyrant

    I don’t know what swinging voters are, but would assume they are a cross section of society, not just middle class.

    Well i certainly agree that it’s a good cross section, however based on the limited evidence I’ve seen, they are generally middle class.

    The working class went to Labor after Workchoices, but as i said, if AS were to become an election issue they could just as well drift back to the Libs.

    It’s hardly like the ALP vote ever collapsed completely during Howards reign. There was clearly SOME people voting for the ALP, and given that the unions have always been against the Liberals i think it’s a bit of a stretch to just write off the working class as people who only vote based on their rights at work.

    Fact is that blue collar unions have done a hell of a lot more for Aboriginal rights, refugee rights etc than any ALP stooges or the Greens have ever done.

  16. @BT: “Fact is that blue collar unions have done a hell of a lot more for Aboriginal rights, refugee rights etc than any ALP stooges or the Greens have ever done.”

    i’ll bite – what have blue collar unions done for aboriginal or refugee rights? (i’m not denying what you’re suggesting, i’m just completely unaware what specifics you’re talking about)

  17. confessions

    I don’t blame them for opposing it full-stop. I expect that the reason they voted against the bill is that the ALP once again absolutely refused to negotiate with them.

    The total inflexibility is another disappointment about the greens. I can’t remember them being like this during the Howard years.

    Thankfully, for the sake of common sense the Greens voted with the government the second time it was put to the Senate, leaving the coalition and Fundies First to oppose means testing the rebate.

  18. Pingback: Isn’t a vote for the Greens a wasted vote? (via An Onymous Lefty) « i am durdlin

  19. “The total inflexibility is another disappointment about the greens. “

    Um, who was being inflexible in the above situations? The party that wants to negotiate (the Greens) or the party that won’t even talk to them (the ALP)?

  20. I can’t see how we have any option but to vote Green. I use to vote ALP, but I don’t believe in that shit anymore – voting. That leaves several options: don’t vote, Vote informal, vote Green. Gillards Zionism just makes it easier for me to vote Green, since the other options don’t even have the insignificant, minute impact of actually voting for real, caring and feeling people.

  21. Blast Tyrant

    l2ts, for Aboriginal people there’s a fair bit of history from voting rights to equal pay. All that stuff came about because Shearers, Wharfies, Boiler Makers etc threatened or took industrial action unless the government caved in to such demands.

    It wasn’t just some benevolent PM that has come in and decided to be nice.

    And now the CFMEU, MUA, the sparkies and plumbers are trying to get houses built with their own time and materials. They started with the Ampilatwatja people I believe.

    It’s not like they can solve the whole issue on their own, but to say “hey, we can build a few houses with our own time and materials, the government after spending millions on police and soldiers and managers haven’t built shit” brings attention to the situation. Obviously not enough attention, but the Greens sure as hell aren’t helping with this.

    As for Refugees, I think the BLF and co were doing a lot to make noise about the issue back when it was the “yellow menace” and it was unionists that went to Baxtor and Woomera in the early part of last decade to give the detainees support and try and highlight this issue.

    Anytime there is a rally for either groups, or even same sex marriage rights, there are union banners there. The greens only show up near election time, and in fact Bant wont even promote a rally unless he’s specifically allowed to promote his candidacy for the seat of Melbourne on the rally platform.

  22. Yep pisses me off that people treat political parties as Football teams and back them in regardless. ALP are fucking up all over the country, both State and Federal.

  23. Pingback: An example of why voting Green will make the ALP more humane « An Onymous Lefty

  24. Pingback: Isn’t a vote for the Greens a wasted vote? | Tamils For Greens

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  26. heymanniceshot

    now you see this is where things get interesting.

    One of the reasons I don’t like the Greens much is simply and stupidly because I don’t know anything about them. They are not in the media enough.

    But – instead of saying why I should vote for them – I get a why I shouldn’t vote for the ALP or the Libs. Now how in the living hell would I know that I want the Greens in power? What would the Greens do on other issues such as the economy, education, defence – etc. (that’s a big etc.) – I dunno – they’d just stand around hugging trees.

    The Greens should form a coalition with the ALP and offer an left alternative to the Libs/Nats extreme right. That’s what I reckon. Unite against the tyranny.

    The ALP are tearing themselves apart. The ALP NOT the Greens – Kevin Rudd – NOT Julia Gillard – saved us from Howard and his mad plans to put the majority of the Australian public in chains.

    Now – tell us again why we should vote Green?

  27. First time you’ve visited this blog, I take it. I regularly discuss specific examples of how the Greens represent progressives like me – from a rational and humane refugee policy focused on processing claims promptly and fairly, to building better public transport infrastructure, to civil liberties issues like marriage equality, to better funding for public health and education funded by progressive taxation, to keeping the internet open – what issues are of concern to you? It’s not difficult to pull up the Greens’ policy page and see what they have to say about the things you consider most important.

  28. hey Jeremy, if you don’t mind, I’m doing some volunteer work for my local greens candidate, and am posting a link to this blog. I think it’s well written (and obviously) supportive of the greens. If it makes you uncomfortable, let me know, and I’ll take it down.

    cheers,

    Davidmessieh

  29. Pingback: Isn’t a vote for the Greens a wasted vote? « Greens for the Illawarra

  30. Hey, Jeremy, this post on your blog gets a mention here today at The Drum:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/12/2950655.htm?site=thedrum

  31. Can’t agree more with your article mate. The ALP has become a clown party that is more driven by news.com.au than the pressing needs of the country. Voting for a 3rd party will not change this straight away but in time……………

  32. Thanks for this article (I came here via Marieke on The Drum). As a lifelong Labor voter, I’ve been disillusioned and really worried by the behaviour of this government. I wrote to Senator Faulkner yesterday, asking him what a “True Believer” actually does now, when their beliefs have been abrogated by their leaders. I’ll be interested to get the reply.

    So, lost and confused, I find Marieke comforting in a “let’s remove this leg for your own good” manner, and this blog has given me hope. As a teacher, a volunteer refugee worker and someone who finds the Internet enormously useful and empowering, I am appalled by this government’s short-sighted policies and assaults on human rights. I was truly shocked when Julia Gillard threatened to gaol members of my union (Australian Education Union) for protesting the harm done to students by public NAPLAN comparisons. Individually and in concert wth parent groups, we’d tried for months to get her to listen on this issue, but she refused. What has happened to the Labor Party?

    I’ve also protested the Internet censorship policy, and again I can’t see the government listening. My first-time-voting younger daughter made a submission to the Senate committee on providing a rating for R18+ computer games. The rating was supported by well over 90% of submissions, but the government has refused to act on the results. After that, it’s hard to convince her that democracy actually works.

    I keep hoping it does. I’ve been particularly impressed by Senator Ludlam’s hard work in the Senate. He challenges the government, asks the hard questions (his work in Senate Estimates was effective and determined), and persists in the face of remarkable obstructionism. Conroy’s ad hominem attacks do not deter him. Senator Ludlam has engaged with the community over the filter issue: he’s the only politician I’ve seen doing so, apart from Kate Lundy trying to water the filter down (Labor didn’t listen to her, either).

    It’s not difficult to find the Greens’ policies: look at their website. Senator Ludlam, at least, works hard to represent us, and won’t let the government get away with lies, contradictory information or plans to abuse the electorate. This is the sort of person I want representing me. The contrast with Senator Conroy is stark.

    I have left the Labor party over the censorship filter, which violates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, wastes a great deal of our money on something that doesn’t work, doesn’t protect children from the very real dangers online (bullying, stalking, identity theft) and allows regimes like China to justify “editing” their people’s lives. I spent a lot of time writing to Labor ministers and senators about this prior to leaving the Party, and received only form letters in response, none of which answered any of my specific questions.

    My disillusioned daughter asked suddenly the other day, “How do we get a Green Prime Minister?” I’d never really thought that far, but as usual, she had a good question. I replied that the Greens didn’t have the numbers for that, but the more Greens we voted into Parliament, the more they could represent us. As long as they go on doing this, they deserve our vote.

    I had intended to vote Green at the election, then preference all the independents ahead of the ALP and the oddly-named Liberals (deeply regretting that I don’t live in Victoria and thus can’t preference Senator “you’re a child abuser if you question the filter”) Conroy last). However, I take your point in this article. I don’t want to give any part of my vote to loonies who’ve got onto the ballot paper (including Tony Abbott), so voting Green first and then Labor is a more effective way to use my vote.

    However, to anyone reading this, if you live in Victoria, please vote beneath the line and preference Conroy last. This will send a strong message to the government that we object to Conroy “editing” our lives (and we don’t much care for his rude and ignorant manner, either).

  33. jordanrastrick

    Another reader here via the Drum.

    As a soon to be somewhat reluctant Labor voter, who cannot in good conscience vote Green or Liberal at the forthcoming election, I nonetheless have to agree completely with your advice to voters.

    If you honestly prefer the Greens to Labor on most issues important to you, you should definitely preference them higher. In the Senate, this can potentially make a real difference. In the Lower House, only a few Greens candidates have even a slim hope of election, but the ALP will certainly pay attention to falls in their primary vote as an important measure of electoral sentiment. An election where the greens poll 15% of the primary vote versus one where they poll 7%, even with all preferences going to Labor in both cases, will make a big difference to Labor’s post election policies – particularly on issues that are more marginal to average voters, like the Internet Filter.

    This really should be a no-brainer – the whole reason we have preferential voting is to enable you to express your full democratic opinion about all the parties, not just your choice between the two biggest ones.

  34. ELSEWHERE: Antony Green explains the rules.

    Jordan – just out of interest, why do you feel you couldn’t you vote Green “in good conscience”?

  35. jordanrastrick

    Well, I’m again going to be forced to vote below the line to ensure my preferences go to the Greens ahead of the likes of Family First. But the Greens have lost any chance to get my primary senate vote over a few major issues.

    First, the degree of their anti-nuclear policy and rhetoric is simply hysterical. I’ve heard Greens spokespeople argue we should import all our medical radi0isoptopes from overseas – presumably, from poorer countries that don’t have environmentalist parties to campaign against the reactors. In other words, Nimby sentiment taken to the scale of colonialism.

    Likewise, I could support a ban on nuclear armed warships; but to destroy the American alliance, not over a disagreement on foreign policy or military action, but for the sake of preventing submarines with conventional weapons and nuclear engines entering Australian ports, is ludicrous.

    Its impossible to have a rational debate about whether the substantial risks of Nuclear power outweigh its potential in reducing carbon emissions in light of such an ingrained mentality of opposition to any technology remotely associated with radioactivity.

    Second, I unequivocally support the immigration of people fleeing poverty as well as persecution, so I am radically at odds with their stance on population – although their increasing equivocation that “the issue is complex” without clearly stating exactly how much they seek to reduce net migration by, shows they are perhaps gradually shifting closer to my own views.

    We are easily capable of sustaining 35 million people by 2050, provided we invest adequately in infrastructure and duly internalise environmental costs – a hard but by no means impossible political task. We need to save the planet by making wealthy economies structurally sustainable, not by keeping poor people out of them.

    Third, the Greens performance (as opposed to posturing) with respect to climate change, the defining environmental issue of the century, has been utterly atrocious, a point I am about to publish a somewhat vitriolic post about on my blog.

    These are the real deal killers. As for the rest of their policies as summarised on their website, it is often a mixture of the very good with the very bad. For example pursuing a multilateral approach to trade relations and advocating for poor nations over trade issues is great, but blanket withdrawal from all existing bilateral Free Trade agreements (as opposed to seeking to correct flaws in them) is a patently stupid idea.

    Likewise, their page about constitutional reform and democracy is full of sensible notions – until you get to the point “public funding of elections to eliminate private funding”. Measures to control any possible undue influence of private donations, perhaps including public funding, are clearly necessary and should be debated; but this sounds like they propose to outright ban anyone putting any of their own money towards political causes in any form, which is far more scary in its implications for free speech than Conroy’s Internet filter.

    And so on, and so forth.

  36. Interesting issues. Why those things won’t stop me voting Green:
    1. I’m not sold on nuclear technology – it creates large amounts of dangerous waste and there are better alternatives available. I doubt very much the Greens in parliament would actually send non-nuclear US warships away. I suspect that part of their policy platform will change as more moderate lefties like us, moving from the Democrats, join the party (they’re not the Nuclear Disarmament party, after all).

    2. I agree we should be taking more refugees (our intake is pitifully small compared with the size of our country and population) but I do agree with them that we need to make sure we build the infrastructure first, and make sure we don’t have more people here than the country’s natural resources can support.

    Their only problem with immigration is the fact that a large chunk of Australia is uninhabitable desert and we need to be careful with the limited resources. In terms of those fleeing poverty, we should be doing more to help improve conditions in those countries.

    As for three – I’ll be curious to see what you argue on that. The real shameless politicking and posturing was the ALP, determined to get a deal that the Liberals were happy with, and absolutely refusing to talk at all with the Greens. And then chucking a wobbly when the Greens voted no to the proposal they’d been locked out of negotiating, a proposal that transferred taxpayers’ dollars to the country’s worst polluters.

    The Greens are in the process, I understand, of reviewing their policy document – although whether that will be complete before the election who knows. The thing about a small party is that there’s still stuff in there from when they were tiny, that most of their members won’t have realised is still there – and when it comes up, the majority of members would undoubtedly insist on change. I can’t imagine them ever proposing an outright ban on any political contributions at all, or insisting on withdrawal from all free trade agreements without bothering to see if they can be fixed.

    But I can see on all those issues that we need to move away from the status quo in the Greens’ direction, which is why I’ll be voting Greens and preferencing Labor. Voting straight Labor just gives them carte blanche to continue squabbling with the Liberals for right-wing votes.

  37. jordanrastrick

    1. “Nuclear technology” is too vague a term to meaningfully have a discussion about, covering everything from radioactive dyes used in medical diagnosis to Hydrogen bombs. The problem is precisely that the Greens are reflexively against all of it. Its akin to a blanket opposition to the element lead, because it can be used to make bullets, or poisonous paints.

    Waste is of course an issue, although there is now serious and promising research being done into reactors that would use existing spent fuel rods to generate energy. As for the submarines, well, I can only judge the Greens on their stated policies, not what they might end up with if they moderated the objectionable ones.

    2. Most resources are limited only in the economic sense that people are reluctant to pay more to have them sustainably. Our entire water supply, for example, could easily be desalinated using purely renewable and clean sources of energy; it would just be more expensive. We’re rich, and we can afford it.

    As for helping poor people by making their countries better, that’s highly desirable, but very hard to do. A lot of poverty is caused by entrenched problems in the political, legal and social systems. Someone who moves from Somalia to Australia instantly benefits from the rule of law, freedom from violence, a free press, the absence of corruption, etc. Of course we need to work towards a world where every citizen of every country enjoys these things, but in the meantime, why shouldn’t we welcome people seeking to better their circumstances at no expense to our own?

    3. I disagree with this analysis; I’ll be sure to post the link to my blog once I’ve finalised my own.

    With regards to their other policies, well, if the ALP or Liberal party had published on their official site that they would “remove Australia from existing bilateral Free Trade Agreements, where possible”, I guarantee you they would face incredibly intense media scrutiny over the issue, and the stance would be retracted lightning fast, not when the membership gets around to reviewing it. This is the kind of thing Penbo was talking about. If they’re struggling to keep their policies updated due to being a small party, fine. I’ll vote for them once they’ve got around to doing so.

  38. jordanrastrick

    OK, well, apologies for the double post, but I’ve posted my case against the Greens on climate change:

    http://withrespect2x.posterous.com/the-main-reason-im-not-voting-for-the-greens

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  42. I heard that both Labour and Liberal were backing internet censorship!? So I’m voting Green in the hope that they can help keep us from being blindfolded with internet censorship. Internet censorship won’t stop pedaphiles, and it won’t stop children from accessing innapropriate content, but it will limit our engagement with the world as it is now. If the bathtub is overflowing, do you turn off the tap, or do you turn off the light? Shouldn’t pedaphiles be dealt with directly?

  43. oh and by the way, that’s not the only reason I’m voting Green!

  44. Well there is a choice – VOTE SOL for the senate

    http://www.senatoronline.org.au

    Democracy is not a spectator sport.

    Now you can have a direct say into the parliment- contact me (kellyjsargent@gmail.com) for more info –

    Give Democracy a real chance – because whatever the election result the GREENS will have power in the Senate – go read their policies ( http://greens.org.au/policies ) to see how dangerous this will be !

  45. The SOL idea seems very dangerous to me – say you got a Senator, what happens with that vote would be down to whichever lobby group can muster the most online activists.

    I’d rather that I knew how my representatives in parliament were going to vote on issues ahead of time.

    And I’m even more wary of it now I see that they’re concentrating on attacking the Greens rather than all the parties.

  46. Good point Jeremy – however to get SOL Senator’s into the Senate ultimately we’ll need thousands, perhaps hundreds thousands of votes, and for a minority group to ‘hijack’ that many votes is highly unlikely , in Australia anyhow.

    Research the Green party, read there policies, which are great- where are their methods to implement such things?

    We leave attacking the other parties to everyone else because no matter who ‘wins’ the election, it is the GREENS who will have control of the Senate.

    Attacking the Greens is not out of malice, more just to highlight their incompentence, and to get media for ourselves, because unfortunetly bad news sells more than good – however, the Greens have been in politics for 14 years with their first priority to combat climate change- they said NO to the ETS – well what do they propose? where’s their climate change method, something practical that can be implemented?

    You’ll see their ideas are great, policies are vague but positive- I agree with all of them, I think you’l find it hard to find someone who doesn’t- we ALL want better enviromental awareness and such, yet in 14 years they haven’t even drafted policy to practically acheive this- and they havn’t had too, they’ve been riding the good ‘green publicity’ forever, try think what they’ve actually done, if they planned to practice what they preached they’d also have my vote too.

    Another concern we get from thinking people is that ordinary folk wont understand all the ramifications of the legislation they’ll vote on –

    Answer- they don’t have too, People will vote online ONLY on legislation labor and liberal cannot agree ON – like Climate Change, Work choices , abortion whatever, the big things – and this may only happen 3 times a year.

    Jeremy we need people like you – would you ever consider standing? Desperately need more people like you.

  47. “Good point Jeremy – however to get SOL Senator’s into the Senate ultimately we’ll need thousands, perhaps hundreds thousands of votes, and for a minority group to ‘hijack’ that many votes is highly unlikely , in Australia anyhow. “

    But that’s the point. Say you got those hundreds of thousands of votes to get the Senator in there: the way that Senator votes on each individual issue, after the election, when voters are no longer actively engaged, may well be hijacked by far fewer votes than a Senate quota.

    Such a Senator would be an unpredictable, inconsistent wild-card.

    The election is about electing representatives, not ciphers. Part of the problem with the big old parties is that they blow with the wind and their voters never know which lobby group will be in their ear at crunch time.

    Although I appreciate what you’re trying to do, it seems to me that SOL would be even more subject to those whims, and that a voter would never know in advance what their vote will be used for. You’re pitching at both leftwing and rightwing voters: lefties might find their SOL candidate voting for rightwing policies, and vice versa.

    As opposed to the Greens, where voters know perfectly well what their vote will do – support progressive legislation and bring Australia back from the right.

    The more Greens MPs, the more strongly we’ll be able to do that.

    As for “control of the senate” – unless one party has more than 50% of the seats, nobody “controls” the Senate. Since I doubt 50% of the population agrees with me on all issues, I don’t expect my representatives to hold a majority on their own. I do, however, expect them to try to find common ground on various issues to get legislation through that I would support. EG I expect the Greens to work with Labor to keep WorkChoices out; and I expect them to work with the Liberals to kill the filter.

    Thanks for the offer, but I honestly think that our democracy needs genuine representatives, not ciphers. As a senator, I could never vote for rightwing legislation just because a bunch of lobbyists had managed to get over the line on a web poll.

  48. “the way that Senator votes on each individual issue, after the election, when voters are no longer actively engaged, may well be hijacked by far fewer votes than a Senate quota.”

    SOL Senators are bound by legal contract to vote in accordance with the online majority (US) via the SOL site, hence the SOL Senators themselves are just a conductive tool for the population of Australia to voice what WE want, a computer could suffice, but legally only a person can sit in the senate to put their hand up.

    And just like the Electoral Commission now has information on peoples details (your address, name/citizenship) to prevent electoral fraud – so too this information will work to prevent online electoral fraud, only people on the electoral roll will have their SOL account (one email address).

    And that’s the point- voters, the population, the people WILL be actively engaged after the election, by voting their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the SOL site on legislation that liberal or labour can’t agree on in the Senate. These issues tend to be things like the ETS, climate change/ abortion, refugees ect – and people will need only cast their vote on these hot issues when they come up- 3 times a year if that.

    Hence nothing can be ‘hijacked’ as such then- the major problem then is peoples apathy on these issues AFTER election time- that not enough people will get online and vote on the legislation that effects them. I think your concern is that majority people voted for SOL but then failed to cast their vote on say, refugees – to that I say I believe they will, and if they don’t, if it’s the small active and interested individuals who vote on these issues because the majority didn’t care enough too well then you get what you deserve, like Margate Thatcher said, ‘there’s no such thing as justice, only the law- if you don’t like the law, change it’

    Considering people are generally interested in these topics and generally have an opinion – I do believe they’ll vote on the topics, only apathy is standing in their way- and if the MAJORITY of Australians don’t like something I suspect they’ll find the energy to go online and vote on it.

    To vote for SOL is voting for a say in parliament on issues – you can be labour, liberal, green – or a free thinker – it’s not about a political party as such, there’s no party policy to publicly defend or deny, and simply what the people want the people get.

    It’s about using the internet us a medium to get the result on issues that politicians screw up- about giving ordinary Australians a direct voice in parliament – even after the election.

    “The election is about electing representatives, not ciphers.”

    People will be representing themselves via their vote on issues – how can you get more representative than that?

    “It seems to me that SOL would be even more subject to those whims, and that a voter would never know in advance what their vote will be used for. ”

    SOL is the People- perhaps the most influential whim on the people is, and will continue to be, the media. In essence it’s public engagement in the extreme.
    And as described above the voter will know what their vote is used for BECAUSE they did it, they actively went online and click a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

    For too long the Senate hasn’t been working the way our founding fathers intended it, as a house of ‘review’ , the peoples house – when the coalition is in power it’s simply a ‘rubber stamp’ passing everything they send up from the house of Reps, when it’s the opposition, nothing gets done- it’s a ‘no’ to everything – when it’ll be the Greens, nothing will be done – why not give it to the people, use the net to bring true democracy and restore the Senate as a full working, ‘house of review’ as voted for by me, you, the dude on your left- everyone- wait the whole population.

    “I could never vote for rightwing legislation just because a bunch of lobbyists had managed to get over the line on a web poll.”

    Don’t vote for it then- click NO- because you’d have the choice – and that bunch of lobbyists must’ve had majority vote, and if enough people like yourself are unhappy with that – it’ll change.

  49. To get to the point quickly: if I vote for the Greens, I know that my Senator will vote for progressive policies 100% of the time. If I were to vote for SOL, obviously the percentage would be far lower, because the SOL vote would include conservatives who – at least more than “never” – would get SOL to vote for some of their legislation.

    It’s 100% progressive (the Greens) vs who knows?

    However, you at least have some potential for a progressive vote, as opposed to/ none for the conservatives, so I’ll put you above them.

  50. Haha cheers thanks – yes my essay got somewhere! I’ll let you be in peace now –

    But really what makes you think the Greens are progressive? Besides saying ‘no’ to everything and having no real alternative implementive method of their own – just a thought- read their stuff it’s completely idealist, not realist –
    Cheers anyhoo – got to get on with ranting someone else’s blog !

  51. They clearly don’t say “no” to everything at all – they consistently vote for the progressive side of issues. For civil liberties – net filter, marriage equality. For public services – public transport infrastructure, public health, public education. For accountability.

    Much more consistently than any other party in the parliament.

    Check out their voting record – I just wish there were more of them.

  52. jordanrastrick

    The idea of a party like SOL is one I’ve toyed with myself for the last few years – I’m happy to see people putting the resources into having a real attempt at it.

    However, there are serious concerns in any shift away from a representative to direct model of democracy – whether via constitutional reform or technological hack – and SOL does not currently address all of them.

    First, direct democracy can lead to substantial instability in critical matters. For example, I would like to see SOL adopt a policy of supporting all supply bills, so that we don’t end up like California and go bankrupt because the legislature can neither raise taxes nor cut spending without popular approval.

    Second, direct democracy can lead to “tyranny of the majority”, where individual rights can be trampled by anyone who commands 51% of the vote. See for example what’s happened with Switzerland and minarets. This is particularly of concern in Australia where, unlike America and much of Europe, we don’t have strong constitutional protections of individual liberty from government interference.

    Moving on to specifics, this is highly worrying:

    “Contribute, as a SOL executive, in deciding if a clear majority view can be determined where a poll does not present a clear majority view, i.e. not more than 70% of the vote or less than 100,000 votes”

    In the absence of fraud or poll stacking, 70% majorities of a 100,000+ voter sample should be extremely hard to come by. Look at e.g. opinion polling on any major issue, and just how rare majorities of that size occur.

    How does the SOL executive propose to determine a “clear majority view” when its online polling fails to reveal one? Does this mean the senators will feel free to vote yes or no instead of abstaining when the vote is only 55%, provided they all feel like it?

    Finally, if the deciding vote for an act of legislation is the SOL one, how is the government supposed to negotiate its passage?

    “Well, we’ll amend sections 5 a), 16 b) ii, and 32 d), and wait to see if that shifts your online membership support from 68% to 71%.”

    Yeah; not going to work.

    There is real potential for a lasting contribution to Australian democracy here. But the concept is not quite ready for prime time yet.

    Bit like the Greens, really…

  53. Not really – the Greens are exactly the sort of group that representative democracy is supposed to involve.

    The real problem is the big parties that try to get around parliamentary democracy by pretending to be all things to all people and then just resolving issues internally between elections.

  54. Well Jeremy, if you research like you write- we want you- but please read carefully-

    SOL wont make Policy – leave the policy to the experts, SOL will actively engage ordinary Australians into the passing, or rejecting of policy in the Senate- there are no party politics, party policy or power plays to speak of – it’s ordinary folk jumping online voting a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things such as an ETS.

    “First, direct democracy can lead to substantial instability in critical matters. ”

    Really, How so?

    “ For example, I would like to see SOL adopt a policy of supporting all supply bills, so that we don’t end up like California and go bankrupt because the legislature can neither raise taxes nor cut spending without popular approval.”

    Your example is not an example- give me one.

    Should the legislation of ‘supporting supply bills’ ever come into the senate, and should the two major parties disagree on it – and should SOL be in the Senate, you could jump online and vote ‘YES’ for that – have your direct vote into the senate, if online majority also voted yes, SOL senates would have too vote in accordance, namely the people are making the choice.

    “Second, direct democracy can lead to “tyranny of the majority”, where individual rights can be trampled by anyone who commands 51% of the vote.”

    That happens in ANY democracy anywhere – yet you’ll find in democratic countries individual rights are still well and alive, yet majority rules.

    “Australia where, unlike America and much of Europe, we don’t have strong constitutional protections of individual liberty from government interference.”

    Find me Australians who feel their individual liberties are trampled by Gov interference, 1/5th of Australians are not enrolled to vote because they don’t care.
    Australians have ample individual liberties that don’t need constitutional protection, and it’s not a matter of we can’t be stuffed- laws are made for what people CAN’T do- if you write a LAW saying what people CAN do – you then have to counter EVERYTHING they can’t – there’s a reason laws are ‘you can’t rob your neighbour’ and not ‘you can say hello to your neighbour, you can share sugar with the neighbour’ listing everything you CAN do and omitting murder, assault, robbery ect.
    Further have you not noticed all the trouble such written rights cause in America, trigger happy country of the world where kids shoot their classmates?

    Although if you want constitutional protection of individual liberities- VOTE SOL for Senate and you may get the chance.

    Yes 70% of a vote is difficult to come by – it assures you REALLY get the majority and don’t so much trumple on individual liberities as was your earlier concern – and yes if the vote were less than 70% or less than 100,000 people then the SOL senator would have to contribute – what alternative is there, can you suggest a better?

  55. Time is short, we acknowledge SOL may not make this election, but mark my words by 2013 it’s be here, and it’l be the norm – the idea of using the net as democratic medium into parliment is a grassroots one occuring simultaneously ALL OVER the world- as youths from Denmark enlightend me too this morning, they found us on the web and having similar great success with their organisation WeDecide.com – adious

  56. “Find me Australians who feel their individual liberties are trampled by Gov interference”

    Gay and lesbian Australians?

    “Further have you not noticed all the trouble such written rights cause in America, trigger happy country of the world where kids shoot their classmates?”

    That’s because they’ve codified a very stupid right. The other ones – freedom of speech, freedom from self-incrimination, those are fantastic protections.

    I just don’t think we should give up on representative democracy quite yet. I think we should give up on the big parties that have been squashing it, though.

  57. ok this going tit for tatt-

    TRUTH- 24 hours a day, 365 days a year every Australian gets to do/say whatever the hell they like- so long as they abide by the law – if you don’t like the law, change it.

    You want bill of rights – go for it, SOL can help you there.
    Gay and Lesbian couples want marriage rights- go for it, SOL can help them there.

    There’s no such thing as justice – only the law. Don’t like it, change it.

    You, like many others feel the ‘big parties’ are no longer representing your interests – do something about it.

    SOL can help you there.

    Currently 60% of Australians (I believe more) support gay marriage – if we had SOL senators and one party brought the legislation to Senate, they’d be many more happily married same sex couples by dinner time that same day.

  58. Ahhh so it just occurred to me to check out whose blog I’d been graffiting all day- Jeremy Sears, I take it you’re a young journo – like myself-
    I’ll admit I had (and still have) no idea who you are or what you do – a google search of ‘don’t vote Greens’ came up with your blog – so thought I’d start there for the day – you won best response for having a brain – it’s not often you don’ t just get twats – even if I did have to start up a blog page to comment to your article –
    In conclusion – in case you missed it, and because repetition seems to work so incredibly well – vote SOL for Senate in this coming election, or I’ll sabotage your Green vote and poke you in the eye with my pencil.
    Good luck – over and out

  59. Cheers.

    I’ll stick with my vote for the Greens where I know 100% how they’re going to vote, though.

    PS What legal advice have you got about the SOL candidates’ “contract” to vote as told by their online poll? I doubt very much that it is enforceable, given that you’d be talking about trying to use the courts to force an MP to vote in one particular way.

    Also – accountability?

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  64. The premise that “If you vote Greens and preference ALP, then you tell them that they need to represent progressive views,” is nonsense. The ALP will simply continue as it has, making minimal compromise to its centre-right commitment to apparently accommodate ‘green’ voters. Logically, where else are ‘green’ informed preferences going to go? Coalition? I’m afraid this is the ‘preferential trap’; one is… er was pink, t’other is blue; neither are green.

  65. The premise that “The reason the ALP keeps lunging to the right is that it thinks its main competition is the Liberals, and it’s trying to appeal to their voters,” is nonsense. The ALP has rejected socialism as unworkable in this post-industrial consumer society of ours. The secret of political success is not winning over sectors the electorate directly, but rather enlisting the support and trust of those faceless individuals and groups with real power and influence by pandering to their needs (eg those entities that make sizeable contributions to campaign coffers)… and it’s about getting the media onside (or at least not offside).

  66. The ALP will simply continue as it has, making minimal compromise to its centre-right commitment to apparently accommodate ‘green’ voters. Logically, where else are ‘green’ informed preferences going to go? Coalition?

    A Green vote is doing precisely one vote’s worth of push in the direction of progressive policy. As opposed to informal voting, which is no vote, or voting ALP, which is one vote’s worth for them to keep doing what they’re doing.

    At least then you’re part of the solution, not part of the problem. You’ve done as much with your vote as anyone possibly can.

    And if others do it as well, then the ALP may well start losing seats (like Melbourne) to the Greens. The more that happens, the harder it will find ignoring progressives.

  67. The ALP has rejected socialism as unworkable in this post-industrial consumer society of ours.

    Public services, public infrastructure are now “unworkable”? When did we reach that conclusion?

    The secret of political success is not winning over sectors the electorate directly, but rather enlisting the support and trust of those faceless individuals and groups with real power and influence by pandering to their needs

    Yes, pandering to the powerful at the expense of ordinary people is indeed one way to achieve political power. But it’s not a very fruitful one for the ALP, because those people are already represented by the LNP. What can it offer them that the LNP can’t or won’t?

    And of course it’s devastating for the rest of us.

    At least as voters we can make it clear that we want MPs who represent the interests of ordinary people, even those who don’t own newspapers.

    By voting against those who’ve sold us out.

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