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OPINION: Be careful you don’t accidentally elect a bigot
Preferences are probably one of the most obscure parts of our electoral system, yet also one of the most important. They can often make a major difference in who gets elected to our Senate – as Steve Fielding from Family First (who got elected off the back of Labor preferences) and John Madigan of the Democratic Labor Party (who got elected off the back of a number of small conservative party’s preferences) can tell you. (You can check out how Senate preferencing works here).
It is therefore pretty important that we all pay attention to who we may be preferencing in this election – and even more important given the deals that were announced over the weekend. Now – a little bit of warning – as I’ve said before, I am involved in the Greens and am currently working pretty hard on the election campaign. So I clearly have some bias here.
But, look around the country, and I am worried that some deals done could end up electing some conservatives I personally wouldn’t want anywhere near our Parliament.
Let’s first look at the Sex Party – potentially one of the most friendly queer minor parties in the country. However, for some reason, the Sex Party have preferenced One Nation ahead of the Greens and the ALP in New South Wales. With One Nation gaining preferences from a range of conservative minor parties in the state, many commentators are now saying that Pauline Hanson has a good chance of getting elected to the Senate.
The Wikileaks Party hasn’t been much better – in NSW they preferenced the Shooters and Fishers, and what can only be described as the fascist ‘Australia First Party’ ahead of the Greens and Labor. In Western Australia, Wikileaks preferenced the Nationals ahead of the Greens.
In Queensland, the ALP has preferenced the Katter Party ahead of everyone else – including the Greens, the Sex Party, the Pirate Party and the Democrats. This is the same Katter Party whose leader once said that he would walk backwards from Bourke to Brisbane if there were gay people found in his electorate (a promise he has never lived up to). Katter has also received preferences from parties like the Australian Independents and the Democrats – a very interesting development.
The key message out of all of this is to make sure you know where your vote is going before you head into the ballot box (The Australian Electoral Commission can tell you). Otherwise you may end up accidentally electing Katter in Queensland, Hanson in NSW or the Nationals in WA. Not sure many of us who would want a pro-LGBT candidate would want that.