How I’m voting

I’m one of those swinging voters who cop so much flak for being selfish, apathetic, ill-informed and so on. In quite a few elections, I haven’t finally made up my mind until I was inside the polling booth. Admittedly, I’ve usually been pretty sure about the order in which I would put the major parties, so changes in my first preference haven’t made any real difference to the outcome. But then, most of the time, I’ve lived in seats that have been fairly safe, one way or the other, so my vote has been essentially expressive.

This time, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and make a decision ahead of polling day. The decision is a significant departure for me. For the first time in a Federal election since the 1980s, I’ll be giving Labor my first preference vote. I haven’t been satisfied with everything Latham has done as leader, but this is the first time in more than a decade that I haven’t felt that Labor is merely the lesser of two evils. Given that the Greens are obviously going to do well anyway[1], I’m happy to vote Labor.

In view of the generally disappointing poll results over the weekend, I’m less optimistic than I was last week, but Labor’s chances are still close to 50-50. And regardless of the electoral outcome, there’s no doubt that the election marks the end of economic rationalism/neoliberalism as the dominant force in Australian politics. The tide has been running against economic rationalism ever since ‘the recession we had to have’. But Howard’s explicit repudiation of this ideology is as clear an endpoint as we’re ever likely to see.

fn1. I’ve occasionally supported the Democrats in the past, but there’s no point in considering them any more.

27 thoughts on “How I’m voting

  1. And Social Democracy will be the winner on the day. The best – or least worst – system and one that delivers for the majority.

  2. I am proud to have voted for JWH as a war-time PM. He has achieved all that he set out to do in mattters military. I still think will win the election.
    I have a niggling doubt about Howards electoral chances if the major issues are economic effciency and social equity. Applying Pr Q’s “we are all social democrats” now principle to mumbles “Why-vote-for-the-Major Party-Leader-lite-when-the-real-thing-is-on offer” principle will then generate a revulsion to Howard-LN/P pork-barelling and a Latham-ALP preference on polling day.
    On the issue of Latham I find myself, not for the first time, in agreement with Pr Q. Jack Strocchi at October 7, 2003 04:12 PM included this comment:

    Latham has built up a reasonably coherent set of ideological policies. He also has a vision of the ALP’s social base, wired workers etc. And he has at least made a reasonable stand against organisational factionalism.
    I conclude that Latham would be the best alternative leader of the ALP, so long as he could channel his considerable personal energy into professionally responsible directions. The best proof of that would be if he could break the factional grip on ministerial portfolio allocation.

    I shall be voting for Latham because I largely agree with his social democratic economic policies and because he is a satisfactory legatee to the Man of Steel on cultural policies.
    PS. I was only teasing about the Greens.

  3. I’ve been wondering if we can harness the power of the internet to make every seat in Australia a marginal seat. Yes, it means voting against your party of choice, but if only to register a protest vote, but in such a way that doesn’t affect the outcome of the election.

    Having more marginal seats mean that politicians will find it harder to pork barrell certain electorates, or particular industries in the hope of winning, and will have to resort back to whats good for all.

    Hope in vain?

  4. JQ,

    I’m surprised to hear that you’ve voted for the minor parties in the past. In a two-party preferential system, you must have known that you were simply delegating your vote to others. Why not make a more decisive vote for one of the two (well, three, if you count the Nationals as a separate option) options?


    The Tin Man as “war-time PM”? I can’t say that out loud without laughing.

    Son: “What did you do in the war, dadddy?”

    Father: “Um, went to work, paid the mortgage…but I voted for Howard and watched a lot of CNN!”

    I believe Australia has drifted off into a dangerous complacency about our economy, our defence and our cultural values under nine years of Howard. Ironically, we’ve become a less liberal country under the Liberal Party’s most (electorally) successful PM since Menzies.

    I’m voting ALP because Latham offers a much greater chance of economic reform and more effective foreign policy. [Disclosure] Oh, and I also hate the Rodent.

  5. I think this election is strategic, deciding the type of Australia for the next 20 years. Howard has spent the past nine years developing a selfish class in Australia, hoping it would acquire a critical size that would become self-sustaining for his reign.

    The selfish class is driven by the real estate boom and negative gearing rorts. It is just at a borderline size now, but will become self-sustaining over the next three years. It will push the Australia of the 21st century into patterns of 3rd world inequality in health care, access to education, corruption, incidence of poverty and mistreatment of workers.

    In defence, there are four decisions that seem to imply a decision to become a part of a larger (US) force, with concomitant sacrifice of our independence. Probably this will be associated with the establishment of large US bases in Australia. While it lasts, that will protect Howard’s selfish Australia.

  6. Jack
    You’re loopy. You’ve ended up as one of the most trenchant critics of the war on Iraq and yet you say: ‘I am proud to have voted for JWH as a war-time PM. He has achieved all that he set out to do in mattters military’.

    But at least you’re not voting for ratty this time.

  7. It’s always tempting to be apocalyptic a few days before an election. In Australia only very infrequently do the fondest hopes or the direst fears come true. The tepid nature of our politics is largely determined by the absence of religious passion and the absence of oil under our desert sand. Australia is on the way to nowhere. Therefore we neither generate our own madness nor do we excite the greed of great powers.

    Howard has encouraged an asset bubble and has taken the aspirational classes hostage to their private nightmare of negative equity. Negative equity is likely become a major political issue in the near future. Whichever party is in power in about eighteen months will be punished by the unsuccessfully aspirational.

    Howard should be punished, but won’t be, at least not yet.

    My tip: the Coalition by 8 seats, no thanks to my support.

  8. I’ll be voting for Labor in the House of Representatives and the Greens in the Senate.

    I live in the seat of Melbourne and I would like to see Lindsay Tanner retain his seat (and it looks like he shouldn’t have a problem).

    Traditionally I would be a Liberal voter but Howard has completely the wrong balance for me. Socially conservative and fiscally…irresponsible. Turn that around to socially progressive and fiscally responsible and you’ve got my vote.

    Unfortunately I think the coalition will win on Saturday…

  9. Labor and they didn’t get my first preference last time because of Beazley’s cigarette paper. If Labor wins it sends a good message on what the Australian people will put up with. If they lose, I’d be happier if their lost because of some political principles on the other side – not because of ecomonically illiterate fear mongering and candy bags.

  10. Labor. I got odds of $3.95 about them winning last night on betfair, which is never mentioned when journos discuss their newfound belief in the wisdom of bookies, but consistently offers better odds on both sides. I think Labor is a better chance than the 25% that these odds imply.

  11. Being in Bennelong I am quite tempted by Wendell wilkie.

    He is highly approachable, is quite logical in why he support or desn’t support various policies and seems quite intelligent.

    My only problem is that he is standing for the Greens who in their owwn way are as loopy as One Nation.

    I am hopeful of a substantiaal swing agaainst the sittimg member.
    I can’t get over the number of people who want the Liberals to win but Howard to lose his seat.

  12. Remember – you can vote for a minor party or independent in the House and if the candidate doesn’t get elected, your vote passes at full value to your subsequent choices. To preference one major party above the other just put that party ahead of the other – the major doesn’t have to be first.

    When you vote this way, you can express your support for a minor party like the Greens while still giving your vote for the major party you wish to win.

    Some people on this blog don’t seem to grasp these simple electoral mechanics of our wonderful system of democracy here in Australia

  13. Yep – I agree with Mark. Vote 1 Green and then every other tryer then in the two last spots your choice of Lib or Lab. Lib or Lab will win anyway but if enough 1st preferences go to Green it makes ’em nervous and may influence policies.

  14. And not forgetting that a first preference has a cash value – if you vote for the Greens first, they’ll get a few cents (or whatever) for their next campaign.

    I think in a certain sense the comparison between the Greens and One Nation is apt: both harness emotional forces to drive policy – at least, more than the other parties do. But the difference is crucial: One Nation harnesses generally negative emotions (fear, racism, etc) while the Greens harness generally positive ones (social justice, empathy, etc). I see a vote for a Greens as an injection of those emotions into the legislature, which is badly needed. It might be a different story if the Greens were likely to form government, but they’re not.

  15. “the idea that globalisation is the result of technological change is nonsense”…..”the world economy was just as globalised in 1913”
    id just like to congratulate you on your well chosen words as printed in the australian financial review and VCE Economics text book.

  16. Fyodor at October 6, 2004 08:36 AM includes a comment that is diagnostic of the Lefts intellectual disablities in recognising that, so far as security is concerned, “things change”:

    Jack, The Tin Man as “war-time PM”? I can’t say that out loud without laughing.

    On September 14, 2001 the Federal Government Invoked the ANZUS Treaty. That was an effective declaration of war. Howard was PM during this period. Therefore “Howard is a war-time PM”. QED
    Since 1999 Howard has involved the ADF in three shooting conflicts (Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq) and at least ten peace-keeping and law-enforcing Operations. Many of these were regional hangovers from the glory days of the Lefts “Asian Engagement” gab fests. Athough law-law is preferable, it is the case that war-war sometimes has to take the place of jaw-jaw.
    What is remarkable about Howards national security achievements is the the high benefits: regional stabilisation, alliance consolidation, democracy promotion. These have been bought at cheap costs: low Awayland-military casualites and weak Homeland-civilian blowback. So far. It is Howard, not Bush, who should have hung out the “Mission Accomplished” sign.
    Fyodor can either deal with this or not. As John Lennon would say, “that’s reality”.

  17. For what it’s worth I’ve always thought that the practical outcome of your vote is always the most important factor in deciding it.

    If we had a first past the post system I would of course vote labour, but I can effectively vote for them while voting green.

    The real competition on my ballot paper is for last place, and living in Deakin that is no small race with Family first, the CEC and the liberals vying for the final spot.

  18. Jason Soon at October 6, 2004 09:21 AM makes a feeble attempt at gotcha commenting:

    Jack, You’re loopy. You’ve ended up as one of the most trenchant critics of the war on Iraq and yet you say: ‘I am proud to have voted for JWH as a war-time PM. He has achieved all that he set out to do in mattters military’.

    No Jason, you are not paying attention.
    It is true that Iraq-attack was a huge strategic catastrophe for the US. And it may turn into a moral catastrophe for Iraq if civil war ensues.
    But Howard does not have real causal responsibility for these global outcomes, although he might share some nominal moral culpability. You can make him the scapegoat but he will not be the fall-guy.
    Howard’s ADF did not launch Op. Iraqi Freedom. Nor did it make a material difference to the outcome.
    Howards committment of the ADF to Op IF was for political, not martial, purposes. It was to consolidate the ANZUS alliance, payback for the USMC in Timor and payforward for the USMC in [fill in the regional blank].We have a extra US-AUS military facilities to show for it.
    The fact I have to repeatedly state the bleeding obvious about these affairs of state to, normally high-powered, intellectual pundits is diagnostic of certain cognitive disabilities amongst Howard-hat- er…vocal critics of JWH. The more instinctual punters do not have to be told.

  19. I’ll put up a new post shortly for war-related issues, and I request that people leave this topic until that post comes up.

    Meanwhile, I’ll claim the last word with the observation that on Jack’s account, JWH has been a great war leader in much the same way as Svejk was a good soldier. I must say I have some sympathy with this view.

  20. You raise an interesting point Jack

    Here are the critical documents concerning Australia’s war footing.

    Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.

    Howard, 14 Sept 2001

    Well ladies and gentlemen the federal cabinet had a special meeting today primarily to consider the consequences of the awful events that have occurred in the United States in recent days. We came very quickly to the view that the provisions of the ANZUS Treaty should be invoked in relation to the attack upon the United States. Quite clearly these are circumstances to which Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty applies. We have discussed this matter with the United States and I would expect that this is a view with which the Administration will concur.

    NATO Treaty ARTICLE 5
    The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all, and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective selfdefence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually, and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

    As you can see, the ANZUS Treaty is invoked only after each signatory acts “in accordance with its constitutional processes”.

    Now, in the case of the United States that requires a vote by Congress. (You can see that the NATO Treaty on the other hand has automatic provisions built into the Treaty).

    As far as I’m aware, the US has not enacted it “constitutional processes”.

    This is a rather embarrassing oversight. Howard has declared himself captain of a non-existant team.

    On the other hand the United States can still dub Australia a member of the Coalition of the Willing unencumbered by the prospect of the irksome task of being forced by ANZUS Treaty provision to come to the aid of its Deputy Sheriff in the Region should one of our obstreperous neighbours attack us unilaterally.

  21. [Apologies, JQ, but I’d already written this by the time you made your last post]

    You’re caricaturing yourself again, Jack. Australia has made some minor contributions to a couple of conflicts, and this makes Howard a “war-time PM”? Get a grip.

    Incidentally, invoking the ANZUS treaty is not an “effective declaration of war”. In fact, I’m not even sure that Howard has ever declared Australia to be at war with anybody. Howard was therefore not a “war-time PM”. QED.

    And when is Iraq (or Afghanistan, for that matter) going to receive the benefits of “regional stabilisation, alliance consolidation, democracy promotion” that you cite? And if we’re the beneficiaries of “regional stability”, why is it that our embassy gets bombed in our near neighbour?

    Could you please also stop citing the US bases in Australia as offering some form of defence for Australia? They do not involve the permanent stationing of troops here, and are intended for training, not Australian defence.

    On your final point, Jack: keep shovelling it. We’ll be here when you admit you were wrong about this, too.

  22. You can decide to vote the major two parties last, but there are always a few kooks that make them look good. As an overseas voter, I’ve chosen to vote pre-poll. I just wish I’d opted to vote Family First last. Even Pauline Hanson didn’t want lesbians to be burnt to death.

    But apart from that: no regrets: first place for the Greens in the senate, among other things.

  23. ‘Given that the Greens are obviously going to do well anyway, I’m happy to vote Labor.’

    This would only make sense if: (1) there were some threshold number of votes the Greens need to make their point without needing yours as well; and (2) by giving Labor your first preference you could signal to them that you’re satisfied that they have differentiated themselves enough.

    As these premises both seem self-evidently false, I will follow your advice of the last few weeks and vote 1 Green.

    I’ll put Ross Cameron last, but probably in vain.

  24. The greens totally rely on the income from 1st prefs – so don’t be stingy – they are continaully flat out broke – remember they take no corp money.

  25. I agree with James Farrell. I’m in a marginal seat, Hindmarsh. Greens first then Labor primarily because of the relative strength and coherence of Greens’s policies opposing the war, on the environment, Telstra and some aspects of its economic policy (especially on spending, taxation and surpluses during the business cycle).

    Also importantly as a signal that the ALP haven’t done enough and for some silliness about fiscal “responsibility”, interest rates and surpluses.

    I’m not sure about the death of eco rationalism either. It is too much like Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”. The “conversion” to a putative social democracy is only expediency to do what it takes to win. Once nestled in power again, the real programme of undermining Medicare and access to tertiary education, privatising Telstra, broadcasting law reform etc. can continue apace. A “fourth way” if you will.

    The election billions are merely the price of three more years to pursue the Coalition’s true agenda, and only of concern to purists (or fanatics).

  26. Voting Labor – in the seat of Brisbane which is a Labor marginal. Last election I voted Demos #1 in Ryan – because of Beazley’s me-tooism on Tampa. I’m voting Demos in the Senate in the hope that John Cherry gets in again.

    Peter – re – Family First – I hope they crash and burn tomorrow. The audacity of a party of religious right fanatics trying to throw their weight around while concealing their hate filled views has been appalling. For my mind, they also almost beat the Libs for the most blatantly deceptive advertising. Yeah right, Bob Brown is going to force my kids to smoke marijuana. Does anyone know how the Greens’ complaint to the AEC about these ads went?

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