Controversy spread quickly within progressive political quarters over the weekend after it was revealed the likes of the Greens, Sex Party and WikiLeaks Party would be favouring conservative parties such as One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Party in their Senate preference deals ahead of next month’s federal election.
The Sex Party and others defended their Upper House tactics this week as being necessary for a system they say requires an overhaul, as it unfairly privileges major parties over minor ones.
August 17 was the deadline for political parties to lodge their Senate preferences deals with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), with the AEC publishing the list the following day on its website. The document shows the Greens will favour preferences towards Palmer’s United Party candidates, the Sex Party will direct preferences towards One Nation over other progressive parties while WikiLeaks will favour far-right parties, including the white nationalist Australia First Party.
The preference deals resulted in members of the Sex Party and Greens attacking each other, while WikiLeaks was forced to issue a press release which blamed its preferences on an “administrative error”.
Sex Party spokesperson Robbie Swan told the Star Observer progressive parties were caught in a bind if they did not direct some preferences towards groups many of their supporters would find unappealing.
“The system forces the Greens, the Sex Party, WikiLeaks – and any of the progressive parties – to deal with the devil in these preference deals,” Swan said.
“In a way, all those progressive minor parties – only one third of the total parties contesting – they have to preference somewhere along the line some of these right-wing or religious parties ahead of some of the other major parties.”
Eligible voters can either vote above or below the line, with many opting for the simpler, above-the-line option, leaving the political party of choice to direct the flow of preferences. Swan said it was that system which needed an overhaul, suggesting the AEC consider allowing people to vote in a manner similar to how preferential voting works in the Lower House. Any worried voters, Swan suggests, should take the time to fill out the entire form below the line.
“At the end of the day, it’s just crazy stuff because all it does it weaken the coalition of parties that genuinely support LGBTI issues,” Swan said. “We need to pull together and forget this and look towards beating the conservatives.”