preference ebbs and flows

I doubt a day went by during the campaign when the Democrats didn’t warn about the prospect of the Liberals controlling at least half of the seats in the Senate. The Democrats (and clearly some of Labor’s) preferences were aimed at minimising the chances of that happening, by steering some preferences from the conservative side of the spectrum away from the Liberals.

It appears that the reason why the Greens won’t get elected in NSW and SA (and if they fall short in Qld) is because the Democrats vote is too low to give them enough of a boost up to get them over the line. If they do get over the line in Qld, it will be from One Nation preferencing them ahead of the Libs, or from Libs or Nats putting them ahead of One Nation – I presume having right wing preferences elect a Green is OK with some people (as it was in 2001), but having left wing preferences elect Family First is not.

No doubt the Greens thought it was very clever to spend half their campaign trying to pull down the Democrats with dishonest and hypocritical claims, but the fact is that if it had an impact in pushing the Democrat vote down it has had the flow on effect of denying the Greens seats. Of course if the Democrat vote had been even 1% higher, that would have meant Democrats getting elected in a couple of states.

One can only assume this is even less desirable to those Greens than having Family First elected. Of course, the Greens own preferences showed they preferred having Liberals elected to the Senate rather than Family First, increasing the chances of the Libs getting control of the Senate. As we’ve seen this time (even more so than last time) preference flows and allocations are difficult to predict.

Depending on how the count progresses, its certainly possible that the Libs and Nats will get 4 of the 6 seats in Qld. The Coalition getting over 3 and a half quotas on primary votes alone in WA is quite astonishing. It certainly makes one wonder whether people have developed a different view of the role they’d like the Senate to play.

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  1. Andrew,
    The reality is that voters deserted One Nation and the Democrats because they were perceived to be divided and to have failed. The bulk of the ON and a good chunk of the Democrats supporters returned to the Coalition – this explains the 3+ quotas everywhere.
    Some of the Democrats went to the Greens and some more of the ALP left also did the same. Howard’s “kooky” scare campaign must also have worked for some of these people, but note that the Greens vote is now 10%+ in safe Liberal seats. Chasing right wing votes was never going to cut it – Howard has them wrapped up.

  2. Andrew,
    I can’t believe how pathetic your argument is.
    Your still defending Family First.
    And you have the audacity to attack the Greens? again. All your attacks during the campaign was against the Greens, none against Family First. and you will keep doing it to deflect criticism of your poor performance and bad preferencing arrangements.
    No wonder the Democrats went so badly. I just found out that the Democrats did not make 4% in any seat, in fact they were even beaten by the DLP.
    Now sit back enjoy the most homophobic party control the balance of power. Where are your tears now.
    With friends like you who need enemies!

  3. Damian for someone who has done nothing but rant and rave – in a very abusive and ill-informed way – about how much you hate and despise the Democrats and Andrew B, you seem to spend an awful lot of time inflicting your bile on to this blog.
    Have you got nowhere else to go – nothing else to do? It obviously upsets you immensely to be here.
    Perhaps you should try the Greens site? I’m sure you’d fit in very nicely there.

  4. But Yulia, it’s true.
    Look at Andrew’s arguments here. His attempts at justifying what he’s done. That the Greens may manage to get over the line via right-wing preferences does not excuse your preferencing of Family First, Andrew.
    I can only assume that Andrew prefers Australia’s “burn lesbians at the stake” party over John Howard. That’s damned impressive.

  5. On a “non-DemsandGreens” note, I sincerely doubt there’s any deep ideological change going on in the minds of the Australian people. Especially nothing so deep as a desire to see the Senate play a different role.
    The “interest rate scare” worked against everyone: Labor, Greens, the Democrats, even right-wing groups like One Nation. John Howard successfully stirred people into believing that without a Liberal candidate in their seat, interest rates would rise.
    I saw it in pubs, bartenders noting that “were [their] interest rates to rise, they’d lose their homes.” That they don’t approve of Howard, but that they “couldn’t risk” taking the Coalition out of power.
    There’s nothing any party in Australia could do about that, including yourself, Andrew. A successful scare campaign will trump even the greatest of political breakthroughs.

  6. Yulia,
    I’m pissed off that a party I once supported and voted for (and once even joined up) has done this to us.
    I admire Andrew Bartlett, but he sounds more and more like a Liberal when he blames the Greens rather than his preferences for getting Family First a seat and the the balance of power.
    I followed both the Greens and Democrats. And I ask again. Why haven’t the Democrats attacked Family First one in their election campaign?
    Why did they use 80% of their media releases attacking the Greens?
    Maybe you should think about how to use your time constructively Yulia. I have joined the Greens and will campaign with them.

  7. Damian,
    You have said your piece a number of times now, must you repeat yourself, and with such blind, raving, venom? From the perspective of an interested outsider, a lot of the material to hit the media, and the web has shown the greens to be anything but the defenceless victim of those nasty democrats.
    No social justice issues were even mentioned, the trust angle was all but abandoned as the ALP tried to tell the electorate that they will spend money, and peter costello might be PM one day. the war in iraq was a non-issue, as were the refugees and lets not forget indiginous issues, because it would seem that 20 million people did just that.
    anyway, back to the point i was trying to make. i do not think that were the preferences were placed on the group tickets would have stopped a liberal dominated senate.

  8. Actually Shem without wanting to make assumptions about what Andrew thinks, I’d say its a fairly save bet to think he would probably have preferred to have a strong Democrats team holding the balance of power in the next senate doing the job well as they always have done.
    Unfortunatly for a variety of reasons that hasn’t happened and that’s a sad thing.
    John Howard having a majority in both houses would be a disaster and I agree with Andrew that having a minor party in there would be preferable.
    As far as I can see if there is a Family First Senator they’ll be no different from Brian Harradine whose stance on many issues is/was identical to theirs – he directed his suporters to vote for them in Tasmania.

  9. Sadly Anthony,
    You nor any other Democrats have yet answered my question.
    As the Democrats are meant to be doing, I will re-ask the questions.
    as for Family First being like Brian Harradine… You obviousely don’t knwo the Pentecostals from your Catholics.

  10. Hi I have just stumbled on this.
    I voted Democrat in the Senate, believing that my vote would elect a Democrat. Now it seems my foolish vote has been transferred to Family First.
    No wonder politicians have a bad reputation.
    I feel angry.
    Add another person who wont be voting Democrat again.

  11. One of the most bizarre things about the Family First complaint is the way people seem to imply that Family First’s homophobia marks a significant difference from Labor. May I remind everyone that Labor have consistently voted against every attempt by the Democrats to have gays and lesbians receive decent legal recognition. Just a few weeks ago the ALP voted WITH the Howard government to amend the marriage act. There is not one occasion in their whole time as opposition on which the federal ALP have done anything to bring to justice to lesbians and gay men.
    Frankly I can’t see what difference Family First will make.
    And at least they have more humane policies on asylum seekers and refugees than either Liberal or Labor.

  12. So, let me just ask for the record:
    Do you feel any regret, any shame, any embarrassment, even a scintilla, that your decision to preference Family First will give them a Victorian Senator and therefore extraordinary power in the Senate?
    This is the key issue. All else is just spin.

  13. I was never a one-eyed Democrat supporter. On the contrary I was one of its most vociferous critics. But all the while I was a member I held its [principles and constitution in high esteem.
    Unfortunately most of the internal critics have long departed the demolished Dems, which has meant that blind faith led the party to its downfall.
    The Deal with Family First was just a final nail in the coffin.
    The Democrats have lost all but a few of their founding principles, yet the leadership continue to deny, deny, deny.
    Whilst I didn’t expect much of Andrew, a good parliamentarian but not leadership material, I am shocked to see Yulia’s defence of the indefensible. Blind faith!
    And while the Titanic sinks, the band plays on …

  14. David
    Of course I regret Family First winning a seat. I regret even more the Liberals winning half the Senate seats and quite possibly more. Why that happened and how to respond are the questions which progressive people have to think hardest about now.
    I thought it was clear that both us and ALP were trying to pull conservative votes away from the Libs to stop a Lib controlled Senate. That clearly didn’t work, as the Lib primary vote was higher than predicted, and the Dem and Green vote was lower.
    I am not defending FF as a ‘good thing’, but demonising them as so extreme is inaccurate and counter-productive. I have said all I’ll say on the Greens’ actions – I prefer not to attack but I have to defend and ensure the full facts are on the record.

  15. I presume having right wing preferences elect a Green is OK with some people (as it was in 2001), but having left wing preferences elect Family First is not.
    Andrew, really!!
    If you don’t understand that the answer is a resounding YES, then you have no concept of principles.
    It doesn’t matter who preferences the Democrats .. but it DOES matter who the Dems preference!

  16. Collin
    I’ll refrain from getting into the name calling, especially given your record. I’m happy to respond to people and have debate, but having this site turn into a place for flamers defeats its main purpose.
    It is precisely the point who the Democrats preference, as long as people are also honest about who everyone else preferences, including the Greens – both this election and past elections – and what prioritoes all parties showed in their preference deals. Part of my irritation has been the sanctimony at the Democrats’ decisions whilst ignoring those of others.
    (that’s in addition to the view which I’ve repeated many times that having Libs in control of the Senate is far worse than most minor parties – I appreciate people may disagree with that, but I believe recent history shows it to be valid.)

  17. Andrew
    Ok, so you regret Family First winning a Vic Senate seat. That’s good to know.
    But my question was whether you regret preferencing them. Ie, do you regret the fact that it is Andrew Bartlett’s fault that Family First has the Senate balance-of-power?
    That’s the key issue. Will you take responsibility for your actions?
    I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to know.

  18. David
    If you don’t like an answer to a question, asking it again doesn’t change the answer you get.
    Oh and by the way, if the Democrats had preferenced straight to the Greens in Victoria, Family First still would have been elected – despite Greens also getting preferences from Hope Party, Your Voice, Toscano, Socialists, Republicans and Citizens Electoral Council.
    If Family First had dropped lower still, it would have been the ALP elected, not the Greens.
    I’d wait to see how the final count pans out too – if we end up with the Coalition having 39 seats, it’ll be far worse than any balance of power scenario.

  19. I’m not sure it’s that simple in Victoria. I reckon that if either the Democrats or ALP had preferenced the Greens then FF couldn’t have won the seat. Andrew appears to be saying that the Democrats miscalculated, but I think we can pre-suppose that the ALP had a different agenda…

  20. Colin, haven’t you got anything better to do with your life than to pursue a party that should have kicked you out for being a psycho years ago.
    Only a complete loser would describe themselves as courageous on their own web log.

  21. I see in today’s Fin Review that the government is floating the idea of a primary vote threshold to stop the small parties getting seats. They seemed to be suggesting a 10% threshold. At that level you’d wipe out every Senator except the majors – and even the Nationals wouldn’t make the cut.

  22. Chris,
    I’m having a look at that. I have a feeling that Family First may have been pipped by another party forcing it out earlier in the count if the Democrats vote wasn’t absorbed to double their vote (so to speak).
    Interestingly it looks like Democrat preferences might make the count closer in Tasmania, where Greens might struggle as they get no preferences before Family First from anyone but the Socialist Alliance.
    Let the Lesbian burning begin!

  23. Julian,
    The Democrat preferences eliminate any doubt about the Victorian result. If they had come to the Greens the final outcome of ALP or FF (or Greens with ALP prefs) depends on about 2000 BTL votes. In all cases Greens become the runner up.
    Tasmania is close as you say – except that Taswegians are comfortable with Hare-Clark ballots and have a much higher BTL vote than any other state.

  24. “No doubt the Greens thought it was very clever to spend half their campaign trying to pull down the Democrats with dishonest and hypocritical claims”
    What I saw of the democrats this campaign, was the democrats attacking the Greens. Comments along the lines that voting green was bad, because the Greens always side with Labour and this would form a powerblock in the senate.
    I saw some comments from the greens campaign, mostly on their website, deriding the Democrats for preferencing family first.
    What can I say.
    The Greens have been opposing the policies of the major parties, whilst offering their own alternatives. When Labor bothered to oppose, they found themselves on the same side as the Greens. Were Labor elected, the same situation would probably emerge with the Liberals.
    Parties like family first should always go last.
    I am dissapointed in the democrats. The preference deal was a last ditch attempt to retain seats by a party in decline.

  25. Kieran
    Perhaps you only saw Greens comments attacking the Dems on their website -I saw them in paid adverts, in repeated media releases and in multiple emails (plus via attacks in many public meetings).
    I find it bizarre to hear people who so strongly oppose the Liberals saying that ‘a party like Family First should always go last’.
    People who are always willing to believe the worst about the Democrats will probably never acknowledge it, but dragging conservative voters preferences away from the Libs towards Dems & ALP makes it harder for the Libs to win seats – the strategy didn’t work because the Lib primary was much higher than predicted and the Dem lower than predicted, plus the unpredictable decisions of many other micro parties.
    But to say that we are better off with Libs in Senate seats instead of Family First is just crazy, as it gives the Libs more chance of total control of the Senate, which unfortunately appears to be just what we have got.

  26. Andrew,
    All the Greens media releases and most of the paid advertisements are (still) on the Greens website. Could you point us at a few of the ones you felt were so damaging to the Democrats?
    I think you’re bending the facts to justify the outcome, not looking at it dispassionately, but you could prove me wrong by citing an example of these attacks by the Greens.

  27. Chris
    There appears to me to be a lot of media releases which I got emailed which aren’t on the website, especially from Senate candidates. But I’m not going to detail every time a criticism of the Dems was made – apart from anything else it would simply prolong a dispute which just distracts from bigger issues for all of us. I think everyone has expressed their views on it pretty clearly.
    On a related note, I did see one release from the Greens’ site which stated “The Greens have, for the first time ever, won Labor preferences for the Senate in all states ahead of other prime contenders including the Democrats, Coalition, One Nation and Family First, Senator Bob Brown announced in Melbourne.”
    Either Labor broke this deal, or someone forgot to specify Family First was part of it.

  28. The Green/Democrat announcement (including a signed letter and a press conference) was that each party would preference the other ahead of both major parties in the Senate. It was no different to the agreement between the parties for the two prior elections – it did not address any other minor parties.
    At the press conference we both emphasised the danger of makor parties getting a greater hold on the Senate, which is why I was/am a bit surprised at the Greens’ apparent preference for Libs having seats rather than Family First, but obviously we have different opinions about what the nature and overall approach that party might be.

  29. Andrew,
    The URL below maps into a Google search for all Greens media releases from 2004 which mention the Democrats and don’t mention preferences. I didn’t see all that many negative ones, but maybe you see it differently.
    I agree that this debate is unproductive – but a warts and all re-evaluation of the mistakes of the campaign won’t hurt anyone. The Greens mistake might have been to underestimate the strength of the tall-poppy syndrome in Australian life. Suddenly everyone considered the Greens as being a key obstacle to their own ambitions.

  30. However much I detest the Liberals, I would much rather they controled the house than make concessions to Family First. It is a tragedy that their horrible views will be aired publicly and worse might be enacted into law.
    Gay and womens rights will be targetted.
    This is why people felt such animosity towards the Democrats. I personally voted below the line and put Family First and Fred Nile last.
    I think they are far more harmful than the Liberals could ever hope to be.
    It now looksl ike they will only hold one seat. I hope that the Liberals will gain control of the Senate and deny Family First any power.

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