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In praise of our unique democracy and its sausage

At 6pm on Saturday, the polling booths for the Federal Election closed and vote counting started. By 11pm on the east coast, we knew who would be Australia's 31st Prime Minister. By early Monday morning, he was sworn into the top job and by midday, with the new Foreign Minister, he was on his way to Tokyo to attend the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the most powerful heads of the United States, India and Japan.

All in less than two days. Anthony Albanese even had time on Sunday morning to sit with family and supporters at Marrickville Library. He held his dog and smiled for selfies as cars tooted and passers-by shouted "We love you Albo."

You gotta love our process

In the US, the election takes place in early November and inauguration is delayed until 20 January.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the result in the 2022 election, and the subsequent recriminations within the Liberal Party, sit back and consider how Australia is blessed by the best electoral process:

  • We have the right to decide who leads us, a privilege denied to most people in the world.
  • We completely trust the independence and integrity of the Australian Electoral Commission, the agency responsible for organising the election.
  • We are 100% sure that our vote was counted, and one person, one vote.
  • The only threat at the voting booths was enthusiastic and well-meaning volunteers in colourful t-shirts thrusting how-to-vote cards into our hands. Or choking on a sausage.
  • Compulsory attendance ensures maximum participation and forces many people to think about the decision who would otherwise be totally disengaged.

As the former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said in his concession speech on Saturday night:

"In this country, at a time like this, when we look around the world, and particularly when we see those in the Ukraine fighting for their very freedom and liberty, I think on a night like tonight we can reflect on the greatness of our democracy.”

No questioning the result. No incitement to storm the capital. No protests on the street. Just some mad commentary on Sky After Dark which few people watch.

At the polling booths, there's almost an obligation, certainly among politicians casting their own vote, to eat a democracy sausage. It's a fine and unique Australian tradition, notwithstanding that it is usually a money-raising exercise for an underfunded public school. It's an amusing nod to an equal and classless society and an acknowledgement of our fine democracy. Social media posts fill with photographs and reports on the best sausages, and the country joins in a national institution as a juxtaposition to the far-reaching and earnest act of voting.

There's no place like home

After his acceptance speech around midnight on Saturday, Anthony Albanese was driven to his home, also in Marrickville. He bought the 1920s house in 2006 for $997,000, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pool and sitting on 519 square metres. It's not in Vaucluse or Toorak or Peppermint Grove, or overlooking the ocean or the harbour. It's in the same street he moved to when he left his mother's council house in 1990, paying $146,000 for his first home.

It's relatively easy to find where the new Prime Minister lives among neighbours he has known for 30 years. Although Federal Police are now stationed nearby, it looks like any other couple and their dog when they leave the house, although Kirribilli beckons (and he needs a decent front fence). 

(Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

We have heard about Albanese's humble, poor upbringing with a single mother on a disability pension. While a country such as the US boasts of its 'Anyone can be President' image, Albanese is an example of how it can really happen in Australia.

The rise of community-based independents

A highlight of the 2022 campaign was the rise of independents, gaining an incredible 12 seats in the Lower House. It's not only the 'teal' candidates who arose from local dissatisfaction with the major parties, especially the Liberal Party and its dysfunctional policies on climate, integrity and gender issues. It included Dai Le, Fairfield's Deputy Mayor, and former Wallaby, David Pocock, who looks like gaining a Senate seat in the ACT.

Cathy McGowan defeated Liberal Sophie Mirabella in 2013 based on local issues, long before the label 'teal' was invented. McGowan now gives lectures to independent candidates on how to manage their campaigns. Andrew Wilkie in Hobart controls 70% of the two-party vote, Rebekha Sharkie in Adelaide Hills has 63% and both Helen Haines and Zali Steggal increased their margins.

The teals and others are no grab-bag of amateurs. Their campaigns were sophisticated and well-funded and they help each other while firmly representing their own constituents. Although Climate 200 provided an average of around 30% of teal funding, all winning candidates demonstrated significant community support and attracted volunteers by the thousand. In total, Climate 200 raised about $12 million from 11,000 donors. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's successful opponent, Monique Ryan, ran with the Zen Buddhism phrase, 'Chop Wood Carry Water', signifying there's always another vote to win.

The major parties hate it but it is democracy at work. Most of the volunteers had never participated in a political event before, yet they spent their evenings and weekends door knocking, armed with talking points that supported the policies of this new wave of politicians. As Zali Steggal showed, once an independent is in power, they can be difficult to dislodge if they stay close to their community. Money struggles to match this level of grass roots enthusiasm, as Clive Palmer and his $100 million found.

In my own seat of North Sydney, the swing away from the sitting Liberal, Trent Zimmerman, himself a moderate, was about 14%. Here are the Tink volunteers waiting for the results at the Kirribilli Club after spending the day on the booths.

Let's not take democracy for granted

In his final letter to shareholders in 2021 before stepping down, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon wrote:

"Democracies are not normal. Tyranny is the historical norm. If we stopped doing all of the continuous hard work that is needed to maintain our distinctiveness in that regard, we would quickly come into equilibrium with tyranny."

I have previously mentioned the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) in Old Parliament House which is now open again following the fire at the front doors. It's an important reminder of how we need to work to retain the values and features of our democracy.

MoAD includes a terrific exhibition called Truth, Power and a Free Press on the role of the media in exposing corporate crime and government scandals. The exhibition includes this explanation, which large sections of our mainstream media overlooked in the election campaign in favour of trivial, gotcha moments:

"News needs to be trustworthy. Facts need to be reported as accurately as possible ... sometimes it means confronting those who wish to prevent the publication of facts that are in the public interest. Without a shared basis of fact, trust declines and democratic debate withers."

Daryl Karp, a Director of MoAD wrote about an exhibition called Democracy DNA:

"Australia’s democracy is a unique amalgam of institutions and practice adapted from the UK, USA and elsewhere. It’s something we’ve built. It is not innate, nor simply inherited, nor is it fixed in time. It reflects our pragmatism, our mistrust of authority and our willingness to work together. When completed, Democracy DNA will occupy the core, three central spaces in Old Parliament House, encouraging Australians to value our democracy, to understand how it works, see themselves as part of the story; consider how they engage with it, and what they expect from their representative and government." (my bolding)

Where will Albanese take us?

In our Reader Survey on the election a few weeks ago, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is terrible, two-thirds of our readers rated the quality of political debate at 3 or less. Readers disliked 'lies and deceit', 'scare tactics about policies of other parties', 'media bias' and 'too much focus on gaffes'. Only 1% of respondents accepted nothing is wrong and 'It’s all the ‘cut and thrust’ of a democracy'.

Voters wanted a move from toxic politics. While promises are easy to make on the election trail, Anthony Albanese spoke about the need to change throughout the campaign including in his victory speech. He wants to "change the country and change the way politics operates in this country".

Two surprising statistics about our elections:

  • No Prime Minister has won consecutive elections since John Howard in 2004, and
  • The last time a major party served only one term in government was in 1929.

For all the strengths of our election process, our politicians have divided more than united for at least two decades. As a result, we have a third force in Australian politics as the model for running an independent campaign is now established. 

Time will tell if the country and its politics really changed over the weekend. Regardless of whether Albanese hits a snag, our electoral process and the democracy sausage are welcome again in 2025.

 

Graham Hand is Editor-at-Large for Firstlinks.

 

47 Comments
Chris
May 30, 2022

First past the post!!!!!! Smaller ballot papers and easier for all .Who invented preferences????

stefy
May 31, 2022

Chris, you stole my comment. This preferential voting system is a gerrymander (?). No matter how you vote, it ends up as a vote for either red or blue.
I would also like to add that I have never ever seen or heard one real legitimate reason in favour of compulsory voting,
and that I am totally sick of hearing about Albo's ever so humble upbringing. Yada yada.

Greg W
May 29, 2022

Fascinating how an election result not to one's preference,...er...liking, stimulates interest in alternative electoral systems. Some here and elsewhere obviously aren't aware or have conveniently forgotten the good old DLP whose preferences routinely performed miracles for the Coalition, or that John Howard failed to win a majority of the vote at the '98 election (after just one term), but still went on to give us his 'never ever' GST anyway.

mark
May 29, 2022

System is straight forward enough for both the lower and upper houses. You just need to spend five minutes reading the rules to understand them.

AlanB
May 27, 2022

We can do better. How can the electoral process be satisfactory if a week after the election there are still undecided seats and preferences are still being distributed in the world's most complicated preference distribution system? It is archaic to still have voting by pencil and manual counting. It is a fair system but it is an inefficient system that needs improvement with much quicker results, particularly for the Senate. Electronic voting is overdue. If we can do the census electronically there should also be the systems and security capability to record, count and distribute preferences electronically.

SMSF Trustee
May 28, 2022

Disagree AlanB.

Why does getting the count finished quickly matter? Getting it right is the most important thing, surely.

Especially when we've got a new PM in place, we know which Party is forming government and, even if we didn't, our great country would keep going without a new government while they counted. Don't make a big deal out of something that isn't.

Besides, electronic voting would be an invitation for doubters to doubt and haters to hate (the system). With pencil voting on pieces of paper, Party scrutineers watch the counting and make sure that everyone's vote is counted as they mark it. It might take time, but there's no doubt about the accuracy.

And given that, we have to allow everyone to vote, which means postal and absentee votes have to be part of the system. That's what's taking the time, as they continue to arrive and get counted.

Like I said, we'll get the right results in every seat within a couple of weeks and we'll all be confident in the outcome. THAT's what makes our system perfectly acceptable.

AlanB
May 31, 2022

I agree with you that accuracy is critical. However we must also aim for efficiency. Efficiency does not mean we sacrifice accuracy. Public confidence in the electoral process depends on accuracy, efficiency and transparency. Counting delays and convoluted, if not incomprehensible, 2nd, 3rd and 4th round preference allocations undermine confidence. Who exactly understands how prefences determine the winning candidate? We can do better without giving up what is good but not best about voting now. Imagine people receiving a unique identifier before the election (to confirm identity and prevent multiple voting using other names, say their neighbours), stand-alone terminals (to prevent internet hacking) to record electronic votes with a few finger taps against your own electorate wherever you are and allowing instant counting and preference allocations to cut out days or possibly even weeks of inefficient manual counting. We trust and have advanced so far with technology in banking, GPS travel, share trading etc but seem too fearful to apply it to voting. Only yesterday does the Government know it has a majority and there are still seats and Senate counts to be determined. Not Good Enough.

Nina H
May 29, 2022

And the number of people out of work if we adopted electronic voting? Not concerned that someone could hack a computer program?

Paul B
May 30, 2022

Totally agree with you AlanB (and Chris) and totally disagree with the naysayers that say the voting system is simple and highly risky if we go electronic.

SMSF Trustee
May 30, 2022

I don't think it's risky,. What I said was that it will open the door for sceptics who don't trust technology to question outcomes, when what we have now is scrutinised and delivers results that are reliable. From that, I then ask - wtf does it matter if a couple of seats are still in doubt? Parliament isn't sitting yet and no legislation is sitting there unparsed because we are still waiting.

It's not broken. So why fix it?

Kevin
May 27, 2022

Elections are such good fun.
If my team lost then the system should be changed.People don't understand what they voted for etc etc.
If my team won then this is a victory for common sense.
Great fun

Tony
May 26, 2022

Yes it's good, but it could be even better. A couple of things to improve:
- the rise of postal voting is a worry. Who knows who is really voting before the slip goes in the envelope. The AEC needs to pull the reins on this.
- on election day, don't start counting votes until all polls have closed. That WA continues voting for a whole two hours (three hours in summer elections) while counting goes on in the east when trends are quickly established, is concerning. WA voting closely followed the early trend in the east at the last two elections.

Georgina Cane
May 27, 2022

Tony, I agree with your points and I would add to it the need to look at compulsory (as opposed to optional) preferential voting. It truly is a travesty but I know the ALP and the Greens would block a change to the system. The Coalition secured 500k more primary votes but lost the election (I am not saying they deserved to win). I am sick of seeing a candidate securing a 10% or so lead on primary votes and be beaten by someone with support from a quarter of the electorate because every man and his dog issue preferences against him or her and people were forced to give a ‘pick’ to some maniac they would never want to see in parliament. Let people pick the number of people they would like to give a true preference to with a requirement for, say, the casting of 1 to 3 with the option to leave the other squares blank.

Jono
May 28, 2022

You clearly don't understand preferential voting. Your point is the same as saying the Liberal Party shouldn't be allowed to govern because they have to form a Coalition with the Nationals to have enough members to form a majority

Jack
May 26, 2022

Imagine how truly representative of the community our democracy would be if more people actually understood how our preferential voting system works.

Graeme Riley
May 26, 2022

Couldn't agree more. It frustrates me when I hear people say "I'm not going to vote for either major party I'm going to vote for so and so", when in fact in the majority of cases their first preference, assuming its labor or coalition, is who they end up voting for. I reckon about 20% of voters at best realise this!!

Jay
May 27, 2022

Couldn't disagree more. Virtually all options outside of the major parties are clearly on the left or right (Greens, One Nation, UAP etc). I'm pretty sure preferences for a vast majority of people voting for those parties end up exactly where those voters want them to. And teal voters from wealthier electorates had to make a choice as those candidates didn't direct them. To imply we end up with the government most people don't actually want due to the preference system is simply wrong.

SMSF Trustee
May 29, 2022

I'm with you Jay.

The point of preference voting is to eliminate those who get the least support, then have another vote without them on the ticket. But it does it in one poll on one day rather than dragging it out.

In the end we get the majority decision. It's a great way of doing it.

Paul Coghlan
May 26, 2022

You are not just an economist Graham! A well nuanced piece.

Graham Hand
May 26, 2022

Thanks, Paul, only my former economics teacher would call me that, even if you did influence me and I went on to study economics at uni. Cheers, Graham

Malcolm S
May 29, 2022

Excellent could not have said it better. We are so blessed with our system, let’s not talk about the difference between the USA and us with the gun laws….. Paul Coghlan from RBHS was a great Teacher and mentor.

Joey
May 26, 2022

Agree AEC does a great job but how did they guide anyone voting by phone who wanted to vote all numbers below the line for the senate? With no ballot paper in front of them. I'd like to listen to those one hour conversations.

John
May 26, 2022

"We completely trust the independence and integrity of the Australian Electoral Commission". Why should we? I no longer trust the AEC. The AEC allowed the Teals to pretend that they are not a party, despite common policies, primary source of funding, targets, uniform, signage and messaging, enabling Teals to not have to abide by rules applying to parties. In my polling booth, the AEC allowed Zali (but not Deves) to breach the legislated 6m exclusion zone, ensuring every voter came within 1 metre of her in the queue inside the polling station, providing her with an opportunity to engage and canvas for votes.

Mart
May 26, 2022

John - I can't comment on your electorate, but I can on mine in Melbourne and the (losing high profile) Liberal candidate was doing the same in 'walking the line' (with no exclusion zone) and spruiking to the last. Even more bizarrely, his mother was at the end of the line saying her son was wonderful! No great drama from my perspectove, but two serious questions to you ... what could the AEC really do about this short of policing each line, and how many votes would such behaviour really influence anyway ? What I witnessed was our incumbent Liberal MP either being told 'you have my vote' or 'go forth and multiply'. Given the teal results across Victoria / NSW I'd respectfully suggest that the Liberal party might have somewhat bigger issues with their 'blue ribbon' electorates than whether an exclusion zone was breached at polling stations....

Stella
May 29, 2022

Agree, John.
When I was handed my senate voting paper I was given an inaccurate instruction, "Number 1 to 6 above the line or 1 to 12 below the line." Surely the AEC should have had training to enable them to give an accurate instruction! I took issue with the clerk over this, and also with the supervisor.

David Wilson
May 26, 2022

Thank you Graham for an excellent, even handed article.
Developments in Australia over the past week have definitely captured international attention. Two examples:
- The Economist stated that "Australia's election sets a heartening precedent on climate change";
- Germany's Die Spiegel has described the election result as "a win for the whole planet".

It is also worth noting that the modus operandi of the 'teal' independents, who followed the model established by Cathy McGowan in Indi, was to engage with their electorates by holding large numbers of 'kitchen table conversations' in people's homes to determine the issues that were most important to voters. The outcomes of these conversations then formed the platform of key policies that these independents took to the election. An example of widespread grass roots engagement that gave voice to these communities, which was followed up at the ballot boxes.

Steve
May 26, 2022

I heard Malcom Turnbull on the radio after his return from the US when he lost the PM-ship. He made a very insightful comment on the merits of compulsory voting when comparing Aust with the US. Of course voting is not compulsory in the US so parties have to "energise" their "base" to get off their bums and vote (on a Tuesday, in the cold & wet of winter). So what do they do? The Democrats go harder left and the Republicans go harder right. The middle? Who cares? In Aust with compulsory voting as Malcolm noted if you go too far left or right, you lose more votes in the centre than you gain on the hard edges. This is a magnificant stabilizer. Look how much less socialist Labor was this time compared to their very left wing agenda last election. They moved back to the centre and won. The Libs need to take note - moving further right, away from the centre might work in the US, but not here. And of course the beauty of preferential voting is also a great asset. Many of the independent may not have received the no. 1 vote in the initial count, but preferences made the difference.
I lived in the US for 10 years and saw their disaster of an election process first hand. It's a total joke. We should be bloody proud of our system.

Neil Hampson
May 26, 2022

Excellent article Graham, thank you.

John Preuss
May 26, 2022

I agree- a most excellent article. Two quick points on your first two dot points
First, someone once reminded me that an election is a two edged sword - not only can a new government be appointed but it also gives the parallel right to throw the incumbents out - something sadly impossible in so many countries.
Second I agree the AEC does a great job with a voting system that is complex to say the least.
Having again worked on a booth this election I can see further changes are needed to the senate paper. Too many people asked me how to vote and why at least 6 numbers had to be filled in when before a "1" would suffice. It will be interesting if the informals for the senate on a per booth basis are greater than the House of Representatives

Paul
May 26, 2022

Hi Graham!
I really enjoyed your well nuanced piece on democracy and the sausage eaters of Australia. On election night, my mind went back fifty years ago to when I was handing out IT’S TIME dodgers for the Great Gough outside Coogee PS where I attended as a kid. The euphoria of celebrations that night (Don’s Party but three years later and with a better result) and the palpable need for change came back to me so vividly. Let’s hope the new government can move us forward in so many areas. Meanwhile the Libs will lick their wounds and most likely will continue their self defeating civil war. They have six years to lift their gazes beyond their own navels. A vibrant Australian democracy requires it
Congratulations once again on your excellent article.

George Hamor
May 26, 2022

Hi Paul
I also recall handing out how to vote cards in 1972.
I was a Resident Medical Officer at Prince Henry Hospital in La Perouse, a strong working class suburb in south-east Sydney.
A fellow Resident's brother, a Liberal Party member, urged us to hand out the cards for the Libs as there were no volunteers.
The PM, Billy McMahon, was dreadful, the campaign was dreadful - sounds familiar - and there we were in our white coats, outside the hospital trying to cajole burly huge guys in their Stubbies and blue singlets "to vote Liberal for your health's sake"!
The response invariably was along the line of: "Get Fu....d".
Fond memories...

Michael O'Hara
May 26, 2022

That is an excellent and balance piece of writing, Graham. Well done.

Our version of democracy is both admired and reviled across the globe, and even within our own borders. A core element of contention is the compulsion to vote. My own anarchist philosophy does not like compulsion - yet Australia's version of democracy is our own, and the compulsion merely extends to the need to get off your rear-end and attend a polling station. That's it. The donkey vote exists as a real thing, and it allows those who abhor the system to make that protest.

Our system started from such unequal and biased foundations (just look at WA's objections to supporting universal voting leading up to Federation), yet we've ended up with something that has somehow managed to keep our country intact and operable in a modernist world where such institutions are being pulled apart elsewhere.

Your article is a welcome read after enduring the torrid pre-election material we've all had to struggle to digest.

john F
May 26, 2022

We don't have compulsory voting, what we have is compulsory attendance at the polling station.

You cannot have compulsory voting and secret ballots.

It is not compulsory to vote, you can put in a blank ballot paper

Graham Hand
May 26, 2022

Hi John, fair point, I've changed the article. Graham

Michael O'Hara
May 26, 2022

As per Wittgenstein, language is a problem. Australia does have "compulsory voting". But it's a soft version, as per many of our institutions, and nobody checks that you have actually marked the paper.

https://www.aec.gov.au/about_aec/publications/voting/

Paul B
May 26, 2022

It would be quite interesting if they went to electronic voting if you wanted to vote informal!

Allan
May 26, 2022

john F says: "[...] what we have is compulsory attendance at the polling station. [...]"

Scratch me, john...I'm 'compelled' to simply say that, like myriad other things granted one in this life and of course in this great country, as a true-blue Aussie, methinks it's far better to look upon one's attendance at the polling station as being but facultative rather than compulsory.

Bruce Alexander
May 27, 2022

We actually *do* have compulsory voting. Section 245 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act says "It shall be the duty of every elector to vote at each election". Just because it's easy to cast an informal vote does not negate the claim that we have compulsory voting.

I don't share Graham's 100% certainty that we have a one person, one vote in every case. If photo id was required to vote then I would be closer to having that certainty. At the moment it's a laughable claim.

Peter
May 26, 2022

I worked in a polling booth last Saturday and early in the afternoon got to sit and just watch for a short while. It was truely a thing of beauty to see people and families coming in and voting in a calm, peaceful, trusting and relaxed manner. It was a memory that I will hold onto for a long time. The immediate transfer of power to the incoming government is also another impressive feature of our democracy. We need to ensure we do not take our democracy for granted and continue to work here and elsewhere for these freedoms.

Cam
May 26, 2022

We are a pretty lucky country when it comes to our democracy. If only the media followed the MoAD Truth, Power and Free Press message we'd be a much better democracy though. I'm concerned about the Teals. Most of us get acting on climate change. I'm not sure the Teals get that closing a coal fired power station sees a lot of lost jobs and a significant economic impact for the local community, or the concerns of lower and middle classes that action could push up power prices. The Teals and supporters, in our wealthiest suburbs, aren't affected by lost mining jobs and won't notice an increase in power costs. If everyone is brought along and looked after we'll be a better country for the experience. If not, well that's what's pushed the divide in the US and the people ignored decided Trump was the solution. And correct Geoff - solving cost of living and real wage growth is a lot easier in Opposition. Labor may find that its Fair Work which sets wages, but that they can impact take home pay by changing tax rates and the low income tax offset.

Bill
May 26, 2022

For my sins, I have followed politics for at least 70 years. My formative years were in the Menzies period, where in some ways Australia, relaxing after WW2, went to sleep, with the occasional intrusion of the Communist referendum and the great Labour Party split. Politics were frequently the subject of discussion, if not dispute, around our home. At a personal level, politics became real when the Menzies government decided to conscript 20-year-olds in 1965 to go off and fight some other buggers war. I never forgave Menzies for that attack on people who could not respond with a contrary vote (not until Whitlam) or for that matter drink in a pub, without risk of offending the local Sargent. In the mid-60s I migrated to Canberra to work in the public service. I spent nine years in PM's Department observing politicians up close – generally not a pleasant experience, because once in power they exhibited all their previously hidden nasty tendencies. I was part of the machinery of government, albeit a small part. I prepared option papers for prime ministers and cabinet meetings and watched them take individual points out of a series of options to generate policy disasters. Anyone remember the paperboy tax from the 70s? I became totally disillusioned with politics after the Dismissal in 1975. I could not rationalise why the Governor General did not insist that the Senate actually vote on Supply, rather than engaging in a farce by deferring the decision to a series of committees. Those wavering Senators needed to be tested in terms of their support of Malcolm Fraser's strategy. Of course the Palace Letters have now explained why Kerr acted as he did and it's one of our few cases of democracy in Australia losing its spirit, regardless of the political arguments against the Whitlam Government. From my point of view confidence was restored under the consultative model of the Hawke Government, who dragged the Australian economy kicking and screaming out of the doldrums of the 1950s. A consultative Prime Minister, who could be robust in debate but never went across the line of personal abuse, provided us with a government of considerable integrity and genuine policy development. The Howard Government had its good and bad points but began the process of belting the public service, favoring the big consultancy firms, who we now know today (thank you AEC) were always large contributors to the Liberal party re-election funding. Rudd came like a cyclone and crashed at the hands of the right wing warriors from New South Wales and South Australia, who lacked the guts to confront the only real economic issue then facing Australia – climate change. But Rudd, like Keating with Mabo, did re-activate the process of reconciliation with the first people who lived in this country, and hopefully Albanese will now carry on what Malcolm Turnbull started, but was unable to complete, because of people like Peter Dutton and his hard Right mates. Last Saturday convinced me that the great majority of Australians understand our democracy and have been continuously underrated by the political operatives. It seems that all the money spent by Clive Palmer failed to get more than 3% of the national vote, and not a senator or MP. It also seems that the vitriol heaped on Albanese by the Murdoch press, and in particular Sky-After-Dark, were effectively to no avail, and now perhaps the Seven and Nine media outlets will return to balanced news. The election result will not stop News spending the next three years mindlessly attacking everything that Albo proposes, but one senses they will ultimately fail in that strategy because the demographic target group they seek to influence is slowly going off into the night, as Alan Jones has now discovered. A good proportion of our Australian population no longer reads newspapers! Australia was founded without a revolution but the remnants of our colonial past and the inherent powers of our States are still to be seen, as Scott Morrison discovered when he sought to run the health agenda of Covid. While I've always been a centralist, the very thought of a Scott Morrison having not only the powers of the Commonwealth but also the powers of the States, frightens the hell out of me . The Federal system provides balance and that's a good thing, regardless of the politics, which as Josh Freydenberg discovered, should not involve criticizing state governments for matters largely beyond their control in a national crisis. From where I sit, Australian democracy has spoken. That old adage about fooling some of the people for some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time, has once again been proven as true, viz David Pocock in the ACT. There is now an opportunity for us to replace the political mushroom-cloud of the last decade with a kinder, gentler polity, and for the major political parties to re-engineer themselves.

Brian
May 27, 2022

Thanks for a great read, Bill. Re David Pocock, having lived in Canberra I never quite understood why Zed Seselja was an ACT senator, far right politician representing a Labor town.

Selwyn
May 26, 2022

Well said Graham

Paul R
May 26, 2022

Excellent article Graham, highlighting our ‘better than most’ system.

Geoff
May 26, 2022

I always find it interesting, that, the day after the election, the parties (irrespective of how the victory falls) immediately distance themselves from the lies, deceit, threats, scare tactics and other downright nastiness of the pre-election period as though it never happened. We won, so on with business... the end always justifies the means, apparently.

The media stick a knife into the entrails and dig around in search of copy. Mark McGowan in WA gives it a twist, once again reinforcing the feelings a lot in the east have about him - it was the LNP federal government who changed the GST arrangement in WA's favour, I thought. And the commentariat start writing opinion pieces about why the new opposition leader will inevitably fail.

Nobody likes a sore winner.

Yet the "fringe" (according to McGowan) LNP recorded 10% more "1" votes than the new government so they're still easily the most voted for single party in the land. I've always thought the full carry through of preferences to be one of the less ideologically sound parts of our system - one should have a choice at least, in the matter. That will never change, however.

I hope Labor now find their way to 76 seats in the House of Reps, dealing with the Senate will be hard enough. And I look forward, once everyone calms down a little, to them easily solving all the problems for which the answers seem so simple in opposition.

Jay
May 26, 2022

The LNP is a single party is it? News to me. And how long are we going to have to put up with meaningless line that combined Liberals and Nationals received the most 1 votes? I didn't vote 1 for the ALP but wanted them to form government and certainly would have given them my 1 vote if it was a straight choice between the two.

Paul B
May 26, 2022

I'm not a fan of the preference system at all and I would be interested to know what percentage of voters understand how their candidates trade their preferences. Don't get me started on the table cloth they give you to fill in for the senate!

 

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