This election’s Senate ballot is over a metre long and requires a magnifying glass to read, with candidates sprawling from “A” to “ZZZ”. A lot of folk will use this as an excuse to vote above the line in the Senate like the freedom-hating reprobates that they are and end up unwittingly preferencing the Al Quaeda Alliance or Kony’s Australia Party because they don’t know the Faustian deals their party has made. Perhaps inspired by the power of the Independents in the last parliament a menagerie of candidates are also overwhelming the House of Reps, scrambling like seagulls for the discarded chiplets of democracy. But although most people seem to be frustrated with the Coles/Safeway duocracy of the two major parties, they’re going to preference them first anyway. This is largely because a lot of punters don’t understand that you can’t waste your vote by voting for minor parties in the Australian system.
If anything, putting smaller parties first essentially gives you more votes because your major-party preference will still count in full. Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, there’s a good chance that one of the other multifareous candidates will be a closer fit for your view than Abbott or Rudd. The snag, of course, is that there are so many peripheral microparties that no-one has the time to research what they’re actually on about. So I, unencumbered by a life and being a s.n.a.g myself have decided to caringly do it for you, so that you can enjoy your free snag on election day in the knowledge that you haven’t accidentally aided Adam Lanza’s push for Eden-Monaro.
I won’t be going into detail about middle-sized parties like the Nats or the Greens, as everybody already knows their schtick. To make comparison easier, at the end of this I’m thinking of attempting to plot the microparties with the excellent Political Compass, based on their websites, histories and media releases. As a point of reference, the Political Compass folks have already charted the relative positions of the more well known parties for the 2013 election, which I’ve posted above. I’d really recommend doing the test yourself to see where you fit, it’s much more accurate than the ABC one. I’ll be updating this party guide in segments throughout the week in order to break it up a bit.
† GODBOTHERERS †
Australia has its fair share of religious parties, and it’s difficult to say whether the Mad Monk’s successful leadership has spurred them on into apostolic fervour or drawn away their potential voters. Although the religious right are often characterised as a quirky fringe, academic Sean Faircloth claims that they were in the States too – until they crept into mainstream power in the 80s and created the Darwin-doubting theocracy we love today. Christian parties have played a crucial role in the Senate in the last decade or so, and if the new upper house turns out anything like the bizzare carnival some pundits predict they’ll undoubtedly have an ol’ revival tent set up in the corner, speckled with spittle and holy water.
Everybody remembers Family First because of Steve Fielding, the bible-thumping Ralph Wiggum of the Class of 04′ Senate. FF are anti-abortion conservative fundamentalists, but they’re actually considered one of the more moderate religious parties because they use feelgood “family” rhetoric rather than explicit evangelism and don’t diss Muslims. To their credit, they supported raising Australia’s foreign aid budget to meet the Millennium Development goals. There’s a serious chance they could scrape up another seat this time around because of the weird flow of minor party preferences.
CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Very upfront its American style fundamentalism, the CDP are led by the Fred Nile, an antediluvian minister who has haunted the NSW upper house for almost thirty-three years. Coincidence? I think not. A little more hardline, they disapprove of Family First’s “Smiles and Brimstone” coyness and had a go at them for consorting with witches or something. Obviously they’re against same-sex weddings, but rather than the “sanctity of marriage” flimflamery that more PR-savvy religious groups give, they oppose it because “the CDP acknowledges that much child abuse occurs in family types not structured on traditional marriage”. How noble. As you’d imagine, the CDP is not much of a force outside of bible belt NSW or the 80+ age bracket, so Nile’s disciples have decided to skewer the septeganrian vote with a rebranded youth-focused puppet party, called the…
Though slightly Hillsongified with a groovy new website, most of their policies are literally copy and pasted from the CDP. According to their website they’re against infanticide but radically in favour of bad stock photos. Like most of the others on the list, they appear to consider the separation of church and state at best a mild inconvenience and at worst a satanic conspiracy. Of course, like any party, that doesn’t mean that all of its members or followers are zealots. I’ve had long conversations with one candidate, a deeply genuine, compassionate and graceful person who’s major concern is foster care.
RISE UP AUSTRALIA
Moving into Westbro Baptist Church territory here. Rise Up Australia are lead by Danny Nahliah, the charismatic leader of Catch the Fire Ministries who claimed that the slaughter of 173 people in the Black Friday Bushfires was God’s punishment for Australia’s lenient abortion laws. They’re obsessed with Muslim migration, and plan to save Australia from being taken over by extreme Shariah Law by instituting its Christian equivalent. The “youth leader” of the party is a former Miss Teen Australia, now understandably anticipating the Rapture. By far the most extreme religious party running this election.
THE DEMOCRATIC LABOR PARTY
These days the DLP are pretty similar to all of the above but are a little less keen on the Reformation. Originally the Catholic wing of the Labor party, they splintered off in 1954, died in 1978 then Lazarused in ’06. Their biggest ideological influence was B.A. Santamaria, Tony Abbott’s biological father who abandoned him in a reed basket to be discovered by a dowdy young solicitor in a Wallabies tracksuit. The DLP combine big-state economic distributionalism with social conservatism, a rare combination in this day and age. Since the last election they’ve had a member in the Senate, but after the zaniness of Fielding et al the phenomenally dull John Maddigan has seen little media spotlight. May become a major player if the Senate is tight.
I’ll post more parties tomorrow. Bless. ¡piz attoG