36 Hours to go

The polls are showing that a large number of people still haven’t made up their mind about how to vote. It is likely that whatever that number is, it would be even higher in the Senate. That means there are plenty of people who can have their decision influenced, if they are made aware of the importance of the Senate and the danger that it may be weakened at this election. If I can just find a way to get into the heads of 12 million voters over the next 36 hours, we should be OK.

By polling night, there will have been 42 nights since the election was announced. Counting back, I’ve done better than I thought in managing to have 11 nights at home in Brisbane. My little girl seems to have grown up a lot while I’ve been away – she now goes to bed early and gets up early (no doubt benefiting from not having my influence around, as I tend to do the opposite). It will be good to spend some time with her over the next few weeks.

In focusing on what I’ve been doing during the campaign, it’s easy to forget the many many other people who work so hard during the six weeks of the campaign. I have been lucky to have a fabulous group of people on my staff who in many ways have worked harder and under more pressure than I. Having been a party worker and staffer myself in the past, it is humbling to remember how much work so many people do behind the scenes (for all parties) whilst having to put such faith (and a bit of hope) that the party’s leader and main candidates in the public arena don’t do something that will stuff it all up and put all their efforts to waste.

One of the frustrating things about the adversarial attitude and rigid party line mentality of Australian politics is the enormous number of talented people and candidates who are left out of the process at the expense of people whose main talents seem to be to reinforcing and repeating the party line or in attacking and discrediting people from other parties.

Many of our candidates, but also some from other parties, are clearly people who have great ideas, open minds and fresh attitudes but such things play little part in how politics is practiced or how it is assessed by the media. Not only are such attributes not valued, they are often actively discouraged. It is hard to know how to break this down, but until we do, our democracy will continuing to function at about 30% of its potential.

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  1. Are the democrats in favour of setting up participatory democratic organisations in order to boost the functioning of our democracy?

  2. Andrew,
    I’m still waiting on an answer as to why the Democrats have preferences Fred Nile in NSW?
    Why have no Democrat answered me? I’ve written to all of them.

  3. Damian,
    Drugs policy: It can’t be all that exciting or else someone would have misrepresented it in TV ads.
    Fred Nile: This is what happens when desperation overtakes principle. The funny thing is that Fred was a cert to preference Democrats ahead of Greens regardless.

  4. Andrew,
    regardless of how dissapointed I am with the Democrats, I hope in future years the Dems will grow and start displacing the Labor and Liberal Parties as the Greens are doing.
    I would also love strong statements from the Democrats on certain issues.
    The Drugs issue is a case in point. The Liberals and Labor are hopelessly lost on the issue, yet I’d expect the Democrats to have a good policy (similar to the Greens). I know it’s probably the last thing you need (being attacked by Fred Nile and John Howard), but it will be helpful to move the debate forward.
    The Greens are respected for moving on unpopular but forward thinkink issues, I’d like to see the Democrats at the forefront as well.

  5. It strikes me that revolution begins at home. You could start encouraging more debate amongst your own candidates.
    I would suggest a democrats forum site, where candidates could get involved in electronic discussion, publically if they wished. Members of the public could vote, worm-style, on who’s winning the argument!
    Unfortunately, I doubt the public would be terribly interested in that level of involvement, even if it were available.
    I think the media / marketers are wrong when they say that only simple messages can hold sway. I think people can easily handle more subtle positions if they are asked to, and that it’s only verbal bullying by our media which prevents those discussions from entering the mainstream…
    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you just need to have a monthly democrat pub night for each state, public invited, and everyone can just cut loose for a while.

  6. Damian
    The Democrats have always adopted an approach of taking a long-term view and advocating fresh solutions. However, we do try to (a) keep it realistic and (b) try to look for opportunities incrementally, rather than just stay on the sidelines and criticise.
    Our approach on drugs has been to address it as a health issue rather than a law & order issue, but to still recognise that most drugs are harmful and increasing the overall availability of them is usually not a good idea.
    I’m sure I said somewhere earlier that Fred Nile put the Dems after the major parties, so there clearly wasn’t any deal.

  7. I’m ashamed I was ever a Democrat member or supporter. Their last contribution to the Australian political scene has been to give the Senate to family first. Well done, guys.

  8. Andrew, not only have you handed the Senate to the Government via Family First, you have handed away the only thing that gave the Democrats any real importance – the balance of power.
    Democrats preferences have cost the Greens seats in both NSW and Victoria – perhaps NSW doesn’t matter as it will be 3 ALP, 3 Libs; but had the Greens won the last seat in Victoria you might have still had a platform to rebuild from.
    This is indeed the end for the Democrats – there can be no return from here.

  9. I have to agree with Chris Maltby, you have previously stated that your main concern was keeping the senate out of the power of the two main parties, in preferencing Family First ahead of the Greens in Victoria you’ve effectively handed control of the senate to the Coalition, Well done. You’ve lost any credibility you ever had.

  10. Shouldn’t that be the Greens preference deal with Labor ensured the loss of the Democrats Senate seat in NSW?
    Exactly when did it become the Democrats task in life to assist Greens win Senate seats at the expense of loosing their own?
    And Greens winning Senate seats gives the Democrats opportunity to rebuild?
    What a load of sanctimonious self-rightious claptrap!!
    You people are unbelievable!
    If the Greens had not targeted Democrats seats there would be no likelihood of the Coalition or Family First gaining seats in the Senate.
    The tragedy in all of this is the loss of three good hardworking Democrats Senators – not to mention being stuck with John Howard again – because of the Greens!

  11. Meaghan
    get off the turps. How did John Howard getting in have anything to do with the Greens. Greens preferences actually saved Labor losing more seats.
    While Democrats could only muster a measly 1% and that went to Family First giving the Senate to the Conservatives. Well done.
    Now that you have given the Senate and the government the Senate you can sit back and watch the Conservatives run riot.
    Meaghan, you are really showing how naive the Democrats are. Absolutely Pathetic.
    Family First are now in the Senate thanks to Democrat preferences. How do you feel now?

  12. By the way, even if Labor had preferenced the Democrats, no seats would have gone to the Democrats becasue of their poor showing.
    Hopefully this will be the end of the Democrats and their hypocrisy.
    Meanwhile we will have to watch the Conservatives strip away human rights, forests, and any rights we had left after the Dems Workplace Relations.
    I can’t see a more fitting end to the Democrats than to wither away.

  13. Damian
    Your rude and agrressive flaming does neither you nor your party any credit and is leading you down the path of slinging around wild and inaccurate accusations.
    The Labor Green Forestry deal lost Labor two keys seats – sitting members! – in Tasmania and ensured the Liberals won three senate seats with three full quotas. Green preferences made not one iota of difference.
    Bob Brown’s current spin that if it hadn’t been for the Greens Labor would have lost three Lower House seats in Tasmania is just plain rubbish.
    The reality is that even if Family First were to win a Senate seat in Victoria it will be on the back of Labor preferences.
    The Greesn specific targetting of Democrats seats coupled with a media unwilling to publicise the Democrats huge range of legislative achivements ensured Australia has probably lost a dedicated and committted indigenous senator.
    I hope the Democrats do rebuild. We need them.

  14. Just to moderate the tone of this blazing thread.
    It is a real shame that it looks like the senate is going to be just a stamp for the house of reps. I can not believe i am going to say this, but i hope the coalition get an out right majority. It would be far better then have a group of Brian Harridian-esk fundies wring every loathsome concession possible out of John Howard.
    I feel that “family values” is going to turn out to be one of the sickest euthanisms we will see in Australian Politics for a while.
    As to the preference deals, i can not say that i can overly much personally, i vote below the line. Though it was a mistake, image-wise, which over-shadowed the value that the democrats contribute to the legislative process.
    I do like the Democrats, and I will continue to vote for them.

  15. Thanks for supposting the Parliamentary Youth Forum last Wednesday. Thanks for sneaking in the back to catch the last session of the day. Although most there were more interested in Merlin, I was happy that you were able to hear me read my story.

  16. If you subscribe to the Democrats mailing lists, you can get Loads of info about their positions, policies, and statements in reponse to events. It’s not like they’re silent on any issue, it’s just that the main-stream media haven’t (for whatever reason) decided to carry much of it. I’m talking from 5 to 10 e-mails a day, that’s how many I was getting when I subscribed to every issue the Dems were sending out stuff on.
    I did it to get a broader idea of how much and what kinds of info and statements the Dems were putting out there, a pity that none of the major networks seem to care that much. In order of time given, the major networks seem to rank the two major parties first, the Greens second, and the Dems and Family First third.

  17. Meaghan,
    Your lack of understanding of politics is why the Democrats scored 1% of the vote. even the DLP beat you in Victoria.
    So forgive me for not giving your argument any credit.
    Your analysis is laughable.
    By the way, you don’t seem to want to admit Democrats preferencing Family First and Fred Nile. Why?

  18. FYI Greens spent most of their time attacking Family First and the Coalition. Just have one look at the Democrats website, most of the media releases attack the Greens in some way. Not one attacking Family First.
    Thankfully there will be an end to this when the Democrats will lose all seats at the next election. As a gay man I will be glad to see the Democrats and their support for bigotry fall by the wayside.

  19. Andrew:
    Thanks for handing Victoria to Family First, even though they themselves only managed to grab .1 of a quota in Vic.
    As I’m sure you’ve now seen in the news, That seat was the pivotal decider of who will control the Senate. Thanks to you, that pivotal seat will be occupied by a far-right religious agenda happy to side with the Howard government.
    I hope you sleep well at night knowing your vindictive attitude toward the Greens has handed John Howard control of the Senate. I don’t know how we’re supposed to “keep the bastards honest” with you helping the bastards get into office.

  20. My two-cents
    Regardless of how angry we all are at the election results we should all remember that it’s not us up there taking the heat and it’s not us doing the work so maybe a little moderation might be in order. Andrew i hope you maintain the leadership and i hope the democrats recover fully and indeed go on to greater things if only so that australian politics doesn’t completely stagnate into an A/B multiple choice system.
    Sometimes i get the feeling that we live in a ‘one party one vote’ country as it seems that no matter what general public opinion is the liberals seem to keep getting in and keep getting bills past that should be lining bird cages.
    Anyway this long winded and unusually (for me) mellow post now draws to an end i have neither the will nor the heart to dwell on the lap dog status to the US that we will soon fully achieve under the nat/lib coalition.
    Always keep your eye on the man Andrew… sure as shit he’s got his eye on you.

  21. Andrew’s latest “Senate Disaster” release contains this little gem “If the Green Party had not spent the entire campaign attacking the Democrats, our vote would have been higher [and] that could have prevented a Coalition outright majority.”
    If there were Greens attacks on the Democrats during the campaign, they were in relation to the Senate preference decisions. This is bunker mentality Andrew; the damage done to the Democrats was all your own work.
    When the preference tickets were revealed, how could the Greens not try to encourage voters to avoid the Democrats – blind freddy could see that a vote for the Democrats was a vote for Family First or Fred Nile. If the Democrats had preferenced on policy instead of out of desperation, then the Democrats voters might not have deserted in quite such large numbers and we would also have a different Senate – and one with the Democrats still holding the balance.

  22. I’d be interested in what Meaghan means by “If the Greens had not targeted Democrats seats there would be no likelihood of the Coalition or Family First gaining seats in the Senate.”
    Is she suggesting that the Greens not run for the Senate at all? And is she forgetting the fact that Greens preferences have consistently delivered Senate seats to the Democrats over the previous 4 or 5 elections – when it came time for Democrats to honour that debt, you jumped into bed with the Christian Right.

  23. No I’m not suggesting the Greens shouldn’t run for the Senate at all that would be silly – nearly as silly as saying it was ‘time for Democrats to honour that debt.’
    And btw Democrats preferences have in the past ensured Greens were elected.
    The bottom line is the Senate will be a lesser place without the Democrats holding the balance of power. And it will be a lesser place with a diminished Democrats force to keep the Government accountable.
    I hope Australia manages to get through this next three years and the Democrats can rebuild and be a strong force at the next election. That’s my view. – No need to repeat your Chris or yours Damien.

  24. Let’s be very clear:
    1. the Democrats lost all their seats because of a tiny primary vote. No amount of preferences in the world could have saved them. Even if the Greens had not stood, still all 3 Dems would have lost.
    2. Family First now control the Senate entirely because of Democrat and Labor preferences.
    I don’t know how you can look yourself in the mirror Andrew. You have blood on your hands – the blood of all those who will suffer under the Coalition/Family First regime.

  25. Credit where credit is due, in SA it seems that Democrat preferences to the Greens ahead of Family First will elect the Greens Brian Noone to the Senate to replace Meg Lees.

  26. A shame they couldn’t have displayed the same principles in Victoria.
    Chris Maltby hit the point I had to make about Andrew’s press release, which said that “had the Greens not attacked Democrats,” blah blah.
    Andrew, you chose to preference the Religious Right over a fellow progressive party. Were the Greens simply supposed to not bring that up? In Victoria, a vote for the Democrats was a vote for Family First. You think that wasn’t worth mention?
    Any progressive party who would preference the Religious Right over a progressive Green Party doesn’t need to “come back in full force next time,” as a few here seem to be hoping for. I’ll never trust the Democrats to help “keep the bastards honest” after this again, ever.
    If I were in Victoria and had voted Democrat, I’d be even more upset. Don’t plan on making a party comeback in that state.

  27. Hey Chris,
    Have another look at SA. Dems preferences go to Family First ahead of the Greens. The only thing that will stop FF getting elected in SA is that Greens votes will go to Labor, giving them the 6th spot instead.

  28. i voted democrat in victoria – below the line. i put family first last. i thought a lot of democrat voters would have done the same.
    i dare say the democrats thought they were perhaps going to do a bit better than they did when they did the preference deal with ff. the lack of media coverage of the democrats didn’t help. and running an inexperienced candidate here in victoria probably wasn’t the best idea. the problem is the democrats have become a bunch of unknowns – or, they’re known for all the wrong reasons (andrew). we desperately need someone to lead the party with star quality. i just hope this happens before it’s too late.

  29. With the latest numbers from SA it’s flipped back again. It depends on which of One Nation or Family First gets eliminated. If it’s FF, then that undoes the effect of the Democrats pref deal, and Greens get up. Looks like we’re hoping for a small increase in the ON vote…

  30. The elimination race between ON and FF is about 4 or five eliminations from the end of the count. It’s on a margin of a few hundred votes right now, right down in the space where below-the-lines will make a difference.

  31. That’s a damned shame. Greens’ Brian Noone would’ve been a great Senator; instead we’ll end up with a) another major party candidate, or b) a Family First senator.

  32. I see a few of the “Greens can do no wrong” types seem more pre-occupied with selective re-interpretation (combined with the usual abuse) than the minor detail of the disaster that now faces the forests and the lost opportunity to further the removal of discrimination, amongst other things.
    The election result suggests politics is going to become even narrower and more partisan and polarised than ever, which is sad.
    We need greater understanding and acceptance of differing views rather than mroe intolerance from all sides, but I can’t see how that’s going to happen in the next few years.

  33. Hypocrisy and abuse are two of the more pointless forms of debate. No doubt quoting the Bible will confirm some people’s conspiracies, but take the plank out of your own eye before you criticise the speck in another’s.
    Some of these postings here confirm that at least some people from the Green/Left are more interested in knocking down the Democrats than building up the pro-human rigths/environment vote. It also seems to have escpaed some people’s notice that the overall left of centre minor party vote has become so small that it is harder for a progressive minor party to be elected. The Green vote may have risen, but not but as much as was predicted and not by as much as the Democrat vote has fallen. That may please those from the Green who have openly been working to replace the Democrats, but for those of us who have been wanting an overall broadening and strengthening of public support for the values of environmentalism and basic human rigths and equality, it’s bad news.

  34. Andrew,
    You’ve got to accept some blame for the outcome, but…
    I’m sure there is a role for a party like the Democrats which is more able to appeal to the small ‘l’ liberal voters than the Greens. This may only be a matter of presentation rather than substance, especially if the (big L) Liberals keep up their campaign of demonising the Greens.
    If the Democrats are to reclaim this role, they surely have to also be a party of conviction and not of expediency.

  35. On the question of the likely disastrous fate of the forests etc, you might be underestimating the willingness to substitute direct action for lost electoral opportunity. Was it 85% of the population wants the forests protected.
    With the Government returned with a policy to continue the destruction, the focus has to be to make that policy popularly untenable. Time for plan B – no time to waste worrying about the fate of has-been politicians.

  36. Meaghan,
    I think any one who is gay or Lebian would be quite content to see the end of the Democrats after this debacle.
    Let’s not forget Fred Nile is still in with a chance.
    3 years to go.

  37. Hallelujah, Brother Bartlett is quoting the word of the “Good Lord.”
    Drop the persecution complex, Andrew. The Greens weren’t “out to get” the Democrats; I’d absolutely love to see your evidence of this claim. Hard for the Greens to “get” anyone, what with the three-prong attack on them from Team Howard, Family First, and yourself.
    The only instance of outright demonization I’ve seen is your attitude (and writing) toward the Greens. That they’re out to kill your (dying) party, those awful Green bastards.
    You preferenced the religious right over a fellow progressive party. Tell us, Andrew — are you glad that Family First is in the Senate? Have you no regrets?

  38. And the Greens preferenced the Non Custodial Parents Party ahead of their fellow progressive party, the Democrats, as they did the election before, winning a seat in the process.
    If you can’t see any evidence of Green Party attacks on the Democrats, then nothing extra that I show you will open your eyes – there are none so blind as those who will not see and all that.
    None of this addresses the broader problems our country is facing (especially now), but repeating a lie long enough doesn’t make it true.

  39. Andrew,
    Your clinging to something small to defend your actions. The CPP or whatever it is didn’t win the Greens that seat and you know it.
    One Nation saw fit to preference the Greens that eleciton in NSW. that was what won the Greens that seat. But One NAtion also preferenced Democrats ahead of Greens in WA, VIC, QLD thus electing seats.
    I’m surprised at how you try to deflect criticism. As to Green attacks on Democrats, I have bee nthrough their site and they only attacked after the preferences announcement.
    Democrats had one line attacking the Greens in every single Media release bar two.

  40. One of the issues yet to be explored in this debate is the party registration system that allows all these silly micro parties with misleading names and negative agendas to get on the ballot paper. Glenn Druery in NSW is a past master of this – he managed to hijack the “Liberals for Forests” name and ended up the runner-up for a seat.
    In what sense is this an expression of participatory democracy?

  41. The ease with which people can register a party name (or keep one once registered) is something which has come up before in the Parl Electoral Matters Committee.
    You have to have 500 members, but it seems to me that the process for verifying this seems to be far more lax at federal level than it is at state level where equivalent provisions apply. I find it hard to believe most of the ‘parties’ who ran had 500 bona fide members.
    This is clearly an area of the Act that needs fixing up and I strongly recommend people put in a submission to that Committee – they hold an inquiry after every election.
    It is impossible to know the real views behind some of the parties – I recall being urged by some environ groups in 2001 to preference Libs for Forests, yet this time we’ve been abused for it.

  42. Liberals for Forests only ran in WA in 2001 and were/are a genuine party there. The “franchise” has been borrowed by opportunists whose connection with the political philosophy of the party is tenuous at best.
    But you can’t use this as a smokescreen for not knowing Glenn Druery’s previous form in NSW.

  43. Chris
    I’ll ignore the juvenile stuff about ‘smokescreens’. If you don’t like the answers you get don’t bother asking questions.
    If Libs 4 Forests were such an obviously dodgy mob as you suggest, why did the Greens preference them ahead of the Dems in SA and Qld?
    Libs for Forests ran in Vic as well WA in 2001. It’s arguable that the name was always misleading even in WA, but only the Libs complained at the time because the party was aimed at undermining them.
    The Democrats have over 20 years history of trying to make our federal Electoral Act and processes fairer, with a fair degree of success. However, making parties more accountable and genuine is an area we have not had much success over the past 6 years or so of trying. The Dems have been shafted a few times before, but now that others have, including the majors, it may motivate more action.

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