Category: Election 2013


Much is said about Labor having lost power because of ongoing internal division. But while there is no doubt some truth to that, the underlying causes go much deeper. Party disunity is only a symptom of a deeper problem; the march of Labor to the right of the political spectrum. There has been no groundswell of support for Abbott, with only a 3.5 percent swing to Liberals. Labour has won around 47% of the vote, Liberals around 53% on two party preferred basis. The groundswell has been towards informal voting, a marked increase this election (from 5.5 in 2010 to 5.9 this election, with scrutineers in some electorates commenting that most of the informal ballots had not been marked in anyway indicating a clear statement of disaffection), and increasing numbers of people not voting and not enrolling to vote. Young people, without seeing any leadership on issues that concern them, aren’t bothering to enrol to vote, and in increasing numbers. Parties such as Palmer United are attracting some of those votes, with touchy feely policies that offer a hope of a better Australia, attracting some of the Labor faithful, without revealing exactly how they propose to go about fulfilling their policies. In reality these parties are more right wing than Liberal or Labor and will only offer harsher solutions than already on offer. But people need to feel hope, so they are turning to these fringe parties in larger numbers than ever.

When Rudd took over reigns of the leadership the second time, there was a rush of support for Labor. Under Gillard, Labor faithful had become disillusioned with the continual placating of right wing interests. With Rudd there was a sense that the Labor party would go back to it’s roots, that Rudd would come in fighting like he did against the Mining Industry prior to being sacked by his own party. Sacked because the right wing Murdoch media had created an atmosphere of public discontent that didn’t actually represent reality, but which the right wing element of the Labor party took advantage of to justify their actions.

And then Rudd released his PNG Solution. Any hope Labor faithful had then was dashed. Any chance that Labor may have picked up disaffected voters and socially progressive young first time voters dissolved. That one act confirmed once and for all that Labor was indeed, no different to the Liberals.

How will the environment fare under Abbott?  Well this is very much the sixty four thousand dollar question, but short answer; not well.

Photo Abbott courtesy MystifyMe Concert Photography

Photo Abbott courtesy MystifyMe Concert Photography

There are several factors in play.  The first is whether passage of a bill to rescind the ETS will prompt a double dissolution.  The second is the question of how the LNP will perform on environmental issues generally.  For example will they proceed with the treatment plant for outflow proposed by Rudd for Gladstone (to protect the reef from nitrogen and other pollutants)? The second question is a bit larger in scope and will be difficult to answer in the short term.

Tony Abbott’s ‘direct action’ plain is patently inadequate.  He is committing $3 billion to carbon abatement programs, which essentially amounts to planting trees and soil sequestration.  The CSIRO report ‘Soil Carbon Sequestration Potential: A review for Australian agriculture’ makes the point that soil carbon storage predictions are difficult to make:

There is a strong theoretical basis partially supported by a limited number of field studies for significant SOC sequestration potential in several Australian agricultural sectors. However, a general lack of research in this area is currently preventing a more quantitative assessment of the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural

And it’s doubtful $3 billion would be able to achieve the level of abatement possible.

The other thing completely missing from Abbott’s plan is investment in renewables.  While the rest of the world is investing at a breakneck speed in Solar and Wind technology, Australia is faltering.  Germany just recently reached 51% home rooftop solar panels.  They have a firm target for being 100% reliant on renewable energy.  That includes a program of closing down all nuclear power plants by 2022.  Meanwhile viable projects such as the proposed conversion of Port Augusta Coal power plant to Solar Thermal go wanting for funding.  Solar and Wind technology is likely to be largely ignored by the Abbott government.

So what of the Carbon Tax and possible double dissolution?  For Abbott to push his legislation through the senate he will need 39 votes.  Currently, with postal votes still being counted, the senate looks like this: 25 Labor, 9 Greens, 32 Liberal, 6 independent or single issue and 4 too close to call.  Of the single issue we have Nick Xenophon, Palmer United Party, Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party (AMEP), Australian Sports Party (ASP), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Democratic Labor Party (DLP), and two unknowns (though looking like another Palmer, and a Nick Xenophon ally).

Palmer United state in their policy document that they strongly support an abolition of the carbon tax.

The AMEP don’t make a specific statement about the Carbon Tax.  They do however list as amongst their core values low taxation, small government and minimal government intervention.  They will probably try and get something from Abbott in return for their vote on ditching the Carbon Tax.

The Liberal Democratic party not only promised to support any legislation to dismantle the Carbon Tax, they also go the extra step of insisting that they will vote against Abbott’s Direct Action measures: “We wouldn’t stop him from getting rid of the carbon tax,” David Leyonhjelm said.  “But when it comes to his big spending plans he may be in trouble, such as direct action on climate change and his paid parental leave – he won’t be getting any support from us.”

ASP have exactly zero information on their website about their Carbon Tax position. They are likely to use their vote as a bargaining chip to get concessions for their sporting policies.

The Democratic Labour Party is fairly conservative.  They support same sex civil unions as a solution to the gay marriage issue.  They have a pro-active Coal and Gas policy and support developing Australian self-reliance on Gas and Coal.  Neither their energy policy nor environment policy mention anything about Carbon Tax.
Nick Xenophon has stated that he does not support the Carbon Tax in it’s current form, whether he meant as a Carbon Tax or also in it’s ETS form is unclear.  He does have this on his website:

“While I would support the repeal of the current carbon tax, it must be replaced by something more efficient for the economy and more effective for the environment.”

He goes on to say he supports the system that Turnbull had proposed:

I support the model developed by leading economic think-tank Frontier Economics that I commissioned jointly in 2009 with then Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull. This scheme rewards low-emission industries while punishing high-emission industries. It involves carrots and sticks, and unlike the Government’s scheme it doesn’t involve the massive taxing and wealth distribution associated with Government’s carbon tax.

The Frontier Economics scheme is smarter, cleaner and cheaper.

While I support the current renewable energy target, its current rules are stacked against baseload renewables such as geothermal and solar-thermal. The problem with an over reliance on wind energy (leaving aside community and noise concerns) is that its power generation is intermittent and it makes power much more expensive than it needs to be.

So far that is a clear 34 senate seats that will vote against the abolition of the Carbon Tax, and a fairly certain 38 (including DLP) who will support the abolition.  If even 1 of the remaining 4 vote for abolition, then there will be no double dissolution, and no Carbon Tax/ETS.

If Xenophon decides to favour an ETS, and/or other seat counts go unexpectedly, we may yet see a hung senate on the issue of the Carbon Tax, which would force a double dissolution and potentially a new election.  A new election would possibly galvanise a little extra support for Greens/Labor as voters reassess the loss of the Carbon Tax. Or it may go the other way.

Another possibility is that it won’t be the Carbon Tax that forces a dissolution but some other issue that displeases the loose alliance of independents.


UPDATE: David Leyonhjelm, the LDP’s winning Senate candidate, said today:

many punters had confused his fledgling party with the Liberals but said he was happy to take their votes.

“I don’t think everybody who voted for us though they were voting for the Liberal Democrats – maybe some thought they were voting for the Democrats, or even the Liberal party,” he said.

“We are not going to kid ourselves that 8.5 per cent of NSW thinks they were voting for the Liberal Democrats.”

It looks like the leading candidate and registered officer of the tiny, “libertarian” Liberal Democratic Party, David Leyonhjelm, has used a behind-the-scenes preference deal, a misleading party name and a very lucky spot on the ballot paper to win a Senate seat from New South Wales (see below for the maths). This is a scandal, and the rules need to be changed so that minor parties can no longer take control of people’s Senate votes.

Why is this a scandal?

First of all, the only reason the Liberal Democratic Party are in a position to do this is that they got about 8.7% of the vote in New South Wales. And the only way they could possibly have got a vote that high is by confusing voters into thinking they were actually the Liberal Party. The Liberal Democrats were in the very first spot on the riduculously-wide NSW Senate ballot paper:

Long Senate ballot paper is long
Photo by stilgherrian, thanks for using a Creative Commons licence.

and it would clearly have been easy for voters to think they were the Liberals. The most obvious evidence for this is to look at the LDP’s votes in other states, as of 11pm on election night:

Victoria: 0.06%
Queensland: 0.64%
WA: 3.21%
SA: 3.5%
TAS: 2.29%

In 2010, the Liberal Democrats got 2.31% of the Senate vote in NSW. There is quite simply no way a 7% swing in favour of a political party would not have been picked up by Australia’s overly-busy polling industry. The only reasonable explanation is that voters were mistaken.

Secondly, Leyonhjelm has already tried to deliberately manipulate the minor-party system to get themselves into office. He is not only the registered officer of the Liberal Democrats, but also holds the same job in a totally different party, the Outdoor Recreation Party (Stop The Greens). The Smokers’ Rights Party and the Republican Party of Australia also had their preferences controlled by Leyonhjeim, as revealed by Andrew Crook in Crikey on August 22. So we have a candidate for one party controlling the preference deals of *four* different parties. Leyonjhelm was ready to make a deal with the devil to win his seat; three of those four parties made a deal with Pauline Hanson that could have seen her elected. Instead, Leyonhjelm is going to use Hanson’s votes to win.

A political party is supposed to represent a group of people who want to see some change or other in the way we are governed. It’s not meant to be a front group for a Dodgy Brothers operator with an eye for the main chance.

At the moment, the Group Voting Ticket system of Senate voting is a breeding ground for this sort of corruption of democracy. When presented with 110 candidates, most voters will choose to vote “above the line” – that is, just tick ONE box instead of writing in 1-110 next to every single candidate. When they do that, they hand their votes over to unknown backroom-artists like Leyonhjelm: the political party you vote for gets to say where the votes go if they don’t win. This encourages more and more fake parties to set up.

We need to change the rules. There is one simple rule change that could get rid of most of these parasites. All we need to do is say that if you just vote ‘1’ in the Senate for a party, they get to use your vote, but no one else does unless you clearly say so. You would say so by writing a ‘2’ in the box next to your second favourite party, if you want, and so on. If you didn’t write a ‘2’ then your vote would go no-where. This takes the power away from people you’ve never met, and puts it where it belongs, back in your own hands.

If you also think this is a scandal and it needs to stop, please say so here. Let’s raise our voices and get this issue on the agenda of the big parties.

The maths:

HOW are the Liberal Democrats going to win?

When you run for the Senate, you need about 14.7% of the vote to win a seat. When the votes are counted, they look at the percentage each party got and work out how many “quotas” each party got 1 quota is exactly the amount of votes needed to get 1 Senator elected, so in the table below you can see the ALP got 2.23 quotas and the Coalition got 2.41 quotas. This means they will each get 2 Senators elected. There are 6 seats up for grabs, so we need to figure out the last two winners.

ALP 2.23 quotas, 31.9%
Coalition (COA) 2.41 quotas 34.5%
Liberal Democrats (LDP) 0.61 quotas, 8.72%
Greens (GRN) 0.54 quotas, 7.82%
Palmer United Party (PUP) 0.25 quotas, 3.62%
Democratic Labor Party (DLP), 0.10 quotas, 1.51%
Christian Democratic Party (CDP), 0.11 quotas, 1.68%
Shooters and Fishers Party (SFP) 0.09 quotas, 1.30%
One Nation (ONP), 0.08 quotas, 1.19%

The One Nation and Shooters and Fishers Party candidates will get knocked out of the race first, and their votes will got to the CDP. Then the DLP will get knocked out, and their votes will also go to the CDP, leaving ALP, Coalition, LDP, CDP, Green and PUP in the race. The ALP and Palmer United will be the next to drop out; The ALP’s votes go straight to the LDP, and the PUP votes will go to the Coalition.

This will leave four candidates running for two spots. From highest to lowest vote, they will be LDP, Coalition, Greens and CDP. The CDP will drop out, and about 0.3 of a quota will go to the LDP, and that will be enough to elect them. Then the Coalition will win the last seat.

Now these figures are early. I’m writing this on election night, and the exact amounts will change. But, as long as the total LDP vote stays higher than the combined vote of the DLP, CDP, SFP and ONP, I can’t see any way this preference flow is going to change.

Voting Resources

We have collected here some voting resources that may help your voting process go smoothly.

Policy Comparisons:

How to Vote:


Help to Decide Who to Vote For:


The worst union in Australia is the Shoppies. (The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, or the SDA). For years they harvested money from young workers at places like Coles and Hungry Jacks and David Jones, who once forced all their employees to join the union. Funnily enough, those companies never had any trouble with strikes. The bosses of the Shoppies union have never been interested in fighting for their members, in fact recently a pack of ragged-arsed anarchists won a victory for underpaid Dominos pizza delivery drivers that the union refused to even work for. The union bosses are far more interested in using the power of the union to make sure equal marriage never happens.

If you’re voting for the ALP in the Senate in Queensland or Western Australia, then if you don’t take control of your own vote, you’ll be voting for three powerful officials of the SDA, Don Farrell in South Australia, Chris Ketter in Queensland, and Joe Bullock in Western Australia. If you vote ALP in Queensland, SA or WA, and you just vote ‘1’ in the ALP box in the Senate, you will be voting against equal marriage.

So what if you want to vote ALP, but you support equal marriage? How do you do that? Instead of just voting ‘1’ for the ALP, you can take total control over your vote by voting “below the line“. On the Senate voting paper, every single candidate has a box next to their name. Voting below the line means you fill in every single box. In Queensland you’ll have to put a ‘1’ in the box next to the person you like the most, all the way down to ’82’ next to the one you hate the most. In Western Australia it’s a little easier, you only have to number 62 candidates. This can get a bit complex, but there are now plenty of tools to help you work out how to get your vote just right. Have a look at, Cluey Voter and

Here’s an example of what you might do:

You might decide you still support the ALP, even if they keep weird homophobes like Chris Ketter and Joe Bullock in the party. So if you’re in Queensland, you can give your number 1 vote to Claire Moore, your number 2 vote to Mark Furner, and your number 3 vote to Nikki Boyd – they are the three other ALP candidates for the Senate. You might then go right through the ballot paper marking everyone else from 4 to 81, and then save your 82nd vote for Chris Ketter, to send a clear message you support the ALP but you also support equal marriage.

In WA, you’d do the same thing by giving your number 1 vote to Louise Pratt, and your second vote to Peter Foster, going right through the paper from 3 to 61, then giving your 62nd and final vote to Joe Bullock. SA’s a little different again; you should vote ‘1’ for Penny Wong, skip over Don Farrell, ‘2’ for Paul Pisoni, then go through everyone else and give Don Farrell your 73rd vote.

Of course, you might do something different. There are plenty of bad people running for the Senate, and you might decide someone else deserves your very bottom vote. So what I say here is just one way you can vote for the ALP in the Senate but stil support equal marriage. Whichever people you decide to support, the three tools I linked to above will help you sort out who you like, who you hate, and who you don’t care about. And if you REALLY want to take control there’s a tricky way to make sure only the people you really like get a chance to use your vote.

If you’re a member of the SDA, or if you work in the retail or fast food industries and you like the idea of a union that would stand up for you and for equal marriage, you might want to have a look at three groups who want to change the way the SDA operates. SDA Union Transform and Transpose and SDA Members for Same-Sex Marriage are fighting the homophobes from within, and the General Transport Workers Association is pounding on the gates from outside by setting up a rival organisation that actually knows how to fight.

Kevin Rudd has revealed it may be possible to reverse the decision to drop the Single Parents Payment, as “budget circumstances” permit, and that he will seek a review if he survives the election as Prime Minister.  The decision by Gillard to drop the payment wasn’t popular with all Ministers, with some having spoken out against it.

“Can I say that the lot of all folks out there who are doing it tough is of deep and continuing concern to me,” Mr Rudd said.

“I have long believed that as our budgetary circumstances permit we need to provide more support (for single parents).

“It’s tough and there have been many, many long and internal discussions about this. It’s been a very difficult set of decisions, but I understand just how important it is to be providing support to all such folks.”

It would be premature to call this an election promise, since the move has not been costed in budget projections and depends on there being a healthy budget sometime soon after the election.  Nevertheless Rudd’s statements will be something that can be used by lobbyists to keep up the pressure for these changes at a later date if Labor are successful at the polls.

[note: this article has been edited to improve accuracy – at 11:11:29 pm, Sept 2]

Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd. Photo by Eva Rinaldi