The last federal election shone a spotlight on the problem with preference deals, with a few senators from minor parties winning seats without winning a significant portion of the primary vote. Short of reform, the solution is pretty simple: more voters need to vote below the line so that planned preference flows are disrupted. But simple doesn’t always mean easy, and in this state election there are more parties standing than we’ve ever seen in Victoria.
There are two dangers with voting below the line. Firstly, the one I’m trying to help with on this page, is that some of the candidates and parties are quite obscure or misleadingly named and you might end up unknowingly voting for someone you disagree with (knowingly voting for someone you disagree with is just called voting).
Secondly, it’s easy to lose count and misnumber your ballot, especially in the most recent federal election with 40+ candidates. If you’d voted below the line for the Federal Senate and accidentally numbered two boxes with the number 38, your whole ballot would be declared informal and wouldn’t count. Happily, Victoria has passed a new law that helps the second problem, and now you only need to number five boxes when voting below the line for the upper house in order to cast a valid vote. You can number more than that, but as long as the first five are right then you can rest easy. I’d still recommend using a service like Cluey Voter to plan out your preferences beforehand, print out a ballot and copy from it on voting day.
I’m going to give you my take on the minor parties and I might write up the independent candidates later on. Obviously these are skewed by my political bias but it should still give you an idea of what they’re about and where they sit on the political spectrum. I’m not going to waste time writing about the main four (Liberal / National, Labor and Greens), there are enough column inches devoted to that already. Here goes.
The Minor Parties
Formerly the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), the party of Fred Nile. These guys are hard-line conservative Catholics. They are against: same-sex marriage, any kind of abortion rights, euthanasia, sex work, and Christian schools not being able to hire/fire people based on their religion or sexuality. They support women staying at home with the kids and want to “restore the importance of fatherhood”, the kind of statement you’d expect from people who blame feminists for the fact it’s not 1950 anymore.
Democratic Labour Party
The DLP formed after a Catholic faction in the Victorian ALP split with the rest of the party over a fear of Communist infiltration of trade unions. Initially otherwise similar to the ALP, over time their base transformed them into a very socially conservative party. They have a familiar Catholic stance on many issues: anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-gay rights, anti-women’s rights – you get the picture. They do have good policies on disability and aged care,conservative pro-life parties tend to have. Their unusual origins seem to have left them with a few ideological contradictions, however, like how they don’t trust foreigners (particularly Indonesians) but are actually better than the ALP when it comes to asylum seekers. Their Indigenous policy flits between good ideas, well-intentioned bad ideas and outright racist ideas so quickly that I can’t imagine how they put it together. I probably should have saved all that writing and just told you how they’re still outraged that the government dared to allow an inquiry into the Church’s history of child abuse.
Right-wing conservative Christians. They give the usual spiel about family values to explain how they’re against abortion, divorce, pornography, any kind of regulation around work and hiring practices, native title, and believing in climate change. They have a good disability policy but that doesn’t make up for the rest of it.
These guys are libertarians who get most of their vote from people having confused them with the Liberal Party. Libertarianism is the kind of politics that you hear from the right in America – against taxes, state healthcare, any laws governing personal behaviour, any money for people down on their luck, that sort of thing – and hasn’t historically had a big presence here. They seem like reasonable folk until you realise that they want speed limits removed.
Palmer United Party
PUP’s only consistent trait seems to be their inconsistency, which makes them a difficult party to describe from the basis of policies. Each candidate seems to do their own thing and none of them seem to talk much about their intentions. Their Southern Metro candidate announced some pretty good public transport policies, but nothing else. Their Southern Eastern Metro candidate has literally no policies on record. None. In the North they’re talking about education policy and builder’s insurance. See what I mean? Actually they’re also consistent in getting every single other party to hate them enough to condemn them to the bottom of their preference flows.
Rise Up Australia Party
I have no kind words for these people. They occupy the same place in our political landscape that One Nation once did. Imagine getting the kid at your high school who used to complain about “poofters and lebbos” to draft a party’s policies and you’ll have a sense of their platform. They are vehemently against foreigners, Islam, gays and lesbians, women, and so on. It’s the kind of politics that has traditionally been yelled out of a car window.
The Sex Party are even harder to describe than they are to Google. They’re the political wing of the EROS Association, the adult entertainment business association. Remember that revolving sign above the strip club next to Richmond station? “Alcohol doesn’t cause violence – blame and punish the individual”? That was their work. As you might guess, they’ve got a libertarian streak but also a lot of progressive policies that have won them votes from the Left in policy areas that the main parties won’t touch. The Sex Party is advocating for republicanism, better sex education in schools, optional voting for 16 – 18 year olds, and dissolving the states and territories(!). Their main focus, however, is the deregulation of the sex industry, removal of religion from politics, and the decriminalisation of sex work.
The Basics Rock’n’Roll Party
I haven’t put these guys under the single issue section because they’ve actually got a surprisingly broad policy base. Obviously their focus is on live music issues along the lines of the SLAM campaign but they have policies in most areas quite close to those of the Greens.
Voice for the West
I nearly put this party into the single issue section as well because ultimately their platform is to bring attention to the historically neglected interests of people living in the Western suburbs. Their policies focus on decentralisation of government and community involvement. They’ve got a good, extensive (West-focused, obviously) public transport policy and want transparency in the building industry as well as disincentives for empty investment properties. As an outsider party, they have a specific aim towards the reform of the major parties, especially limiting political advertising and funding.
Single Issue Tickets
Australian Country Alliance
Shooters and Fishers Party Victoria
I’m grouping these two together because they have a very similar platform: representing country Victoria, campaigning for expanded hunting and fishing rights (particularly on public land), and hating the Greens with a passion.
Animal Justice Party
The AJP centre around banning live export, encouraging veganism, the protection of native habitats and banning any and all medical testing on animals. The extremity of that last one should give you a good sense of their beliefs.
Australian Cyclists Party
This party really doesn’t have any policies other than increasing participation in cycling, improving cycling infrastructure and driver education. Oh, except that they’re against the East-West Link.
People Power Victoria / No Smart-Meters
I actually feel sorry for these guys. They’re nominally a libertarian party but their policy platform is mostly that wifi gives you cancer and mental illness and that the government doesn’t care enough. They seem very angry and very afraid. Granted, the government doesn’t care about you so they’re right on that one but someone’s lied to them using bad science and I wish they could be set straight.
Voluntary Euthanasia Party (Victoria)
This party is the only one in this list that is so single-issue that it doesn’t actually need much explanation. They want the legalisation of assisted dying for those with terminal or incurable illnesses.
Vote 1 Local Jobs
A single issue party campaigning for improved job opportunities in the Western District of the state (basically all of Victoria to the west of Melbourne) through policies of protectionism and the decentralisation of government services.
While most of the above parties are running candidates in each of the electoral regions for the upper house, some of the regions have a couple of additional candidates who are only listed on the ballot by their names. These are hard to get information on as they don’t have a party’s policy platform behind them but I’ll do my best. You’ll need to know which district you’re voting in for this part, so have a look at the image below.
Western Metropolitan Region
There are no additional candidates for this region.
Northern Metropolitan Region
Darren Bain (Ungrouped)
I don’t know anything about Darren Bain and neither does anyone else as far as I can tell. Mr Bain’s entire web presence consists of a LinkedIn page. From this I have learned that Darren works in HR and is terrible at PR. Doesn’t running as a candidate cost money? What are you doing, Darren?
Tiffany Harrison (Ungrouped)
Despite being listed as ungrouped, Ms Harrison is a member of Save The Planet, a party that is well described by its name. I recently read another STP candidate describe the party’s aim as an effort to move the Greens further to the Left on their environment policy(!). They want to eliminate net emissions of greenhouse gases and immediately transition to “a safe climate economy.”
Eastern Metropolitan Region
There are no additional candidates for this region.
South-Eastern Metropolitan Region
Arif Okil (Ungrouped)
Mr Okil is campaigning for improved education and health, including separate emergency and non-emergency departments in hospitals. He’s also campaigning for a recommended retail pricing scheme for packaged groceries and medication.
Southern Metropolitan Region
Richard Grummet (Group F)
Clive Jackson (Group F)
These candidates represent the Australian Democrats. Once a major player in Australian politics, the Democrats have fallen apart over the last decade and I’m impressed that they even have candidates and policies considering the party’s still split by a factional rift. The Democrats are a centrist party with a progressive environment policy and a focus on social justice. They’re a bit to the left of the modern ALP.
Luzio Grossi (Group R)
Crystal James (Group R)
An independent ticket, Mr Grossi and Ms James have a focus on supporting the arts and live music venues. They want better treatment of refugees, disclosure of political donations and a Victorian ICAC (the NSW anti-corruption body, of which we already have an equivalent, though it’s admittedly very ineffective). They also support more public schools and more public housing for single and low-income families.
George Neophytou (Ungrouped)
Mr Neophytou has a background in law and marketing and has a lot to say about honesty and integrity. Mr Neophytou wants more reliable public transport but is also in favour of the East-West Link and is campaigning for expansion of the Chandler Hwy bridge. He also has a good policy for reforming VCAT so that council policy and guidelines aren’t so easily sidestepped by developers.