It may have escaped your notice, but News Ltd and their representatives in parliament, the Liberal/National Coalition, are not big fans of the “hung parliament”. Voters choosing other than the establishment parties? What about “stability”! What about the devastating ongoing imaginary consequences of those seventeen days when no-one could pass legislation except on an emergency basis if there’d been one?
It shouldn’t be allowed! The system’s come up with the wrong result – let’s change the system!
So we suddenly have pieces attacking compulsory voting (“coercion” is undemocratic, except for, say, taxes to fund roads, the military etc) and whinging about preference voting (it doesn’t completely ensure the big parties’ control!)
Basically, the powers-that-be have seen the rise of greater representative democracy in these results – more views represented in parliament than just two huge catch-all clumps – and are crying out NO MORE! Whatever lets voters be represented by other than the duopoly must be prevented! Whatever locks us in for all time must be preserved, or restored!
The sad thing is that all their noise is drowning out the call for actual necessary reform – reform not about the voters being wrong, but about results that don’t match how we actually voted.
The contrast between the members of parliament who won in August and the number of votes they actually received, certainly indicates that the system needs reform – to make it more democratic, not less. The biggest travesty of the last election was not that the Liberals didn’t win government (they may have got more votes together with the Nationals than the Greens and Labor did separately, but it’s also clear on the vote that many many more Australians preferred the progressive parties to the conservatives) but that the Greens, with 13% of the vote, received 0.75% of the seats in the House of Representatives. If their support for the community was represented in parliament, they’d have 17 seats. And why don’t they? Because single-member electorates split minor party votes and feed them back to the big parties.
That is undemocratic. (When conservatives whinge about the Greens having influence in this parliament, you’ll note that every time they disingenuously attack the unrepresentatively small number of lower house seats, instead of the actual number of votes the Greens received.) We could tackle that problem with multi-member electorates rather easily – fifteen ten-member electorates, ten fifteen-member electorates, thirty five-member electorates. The bigger the electorates, the more representative, although I think you’d want to try to pick a combination that means you don’t have them crossing state borders.
But that’s not the kind of reform the establishment wants. It’s expressly opposite the kind of reform they want. They don’t want reform to make parliament more answerable to voters: they want reform to make it much harder for voters to meaningfully change the people in parliament. Reform that in practice disenfranchises the already marginalised (non-compulsory voting), and reform that even more firmly locks in the existing big parties (first past the post).
It’s rather shameless – and insulting, that they think they can bully us into accepting something so clearly against our interests. They’re lucky that this whole issue is a bit too esoteric and confusing for most Australians so that many don’t realise in just how much contempt our daring to have different views is held by our lords and masters.
Imagine the outrage if more people cottoned onto just what this mob is trying to sell us.