Voting Independent is not a waste of time

p2301-Hal-DuellLETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – I write in support of candidates standing as independents or for minor parties in both the NT and Federal elections. To say that a vote for either is a wasted vote is simply not true.

 

History has shown that any government holding unchecked power will almost certainly abuse that power. Dialogue and compromise go out the window along with the opinions of the opposition and its supporters.

 

Minority voices can get no hearing at all.

 

Taking this path runs the risk of widespread disillusionment with the electoral process. Both Donald Trump in the US and Boris Johnson in the UK have capitalized on this.

 

Independents and minor parties are also a good way to, as the saying goes, “keep the bastards honest”.

 

I would also like to express my support for an informed and deliberate informal vote. If no candidate standing holds any attraction, and if voting for whoever seems less bad holds no appeal, then the only option remaining is to vote informal.
I am not speaking here of the lazy donkey vote, but of a conscious choice to cast a personal and positive protest vote.

 

Hal Duell
Alice Springs

 

 

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5 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Marcus
    Posted July 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    But is that possible?
    How can an independent be independent when they distribute preferences (most of the time) and have the power to put a party into power or bring them down (many times)?
    An independent holding the balance of power has increased their own power base far in excess of any individual holding a seat from an organised political party. Is this fair on the other voters I wonder?
    I understand both the CLP and TL have used the independent ploy to their own devious advantage. One particular party still is.

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  2. Posted July 3, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    How interesting that Ian Sharp raises the spectre of Arthur Calwell. No head of any national political party matches the record of the former Labor Opposition Leader in his support for developing the north, a fact long faded from our corporate memory.
    As far as I can tell, Calwell made more trips to the NT than any other major political figure, and in turn his enthusiasm was aided and abetted by the former Member for the Northern Territory, Jock Nelson.
    Had Calwell succeeded in leading Labor to victory in the 1950s or early 1960s, the course of the NT’s developmental history would likely have taken a very different turn to what has actually transpired over time. I suspect neither side of mainstream politics wants to be reminded of this aspect of recent history.

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  3. Ian Sharp
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Good point Paul. A lot of that getting within Cooee of the PM is due to us using the British Westminster System of making the executive branch of government accountable to the Parliament.
    The PM has to command a majority in the House of Representatives … effectively this means he has to a member of the Reps.
    And thus he has to be elected, he has to stand in one of the 150 electorates around the country, he gets elected, he rises up through the ranks, backbencher, Parliamentary Secretary, junior Minister, Senior Minister, and then the top of the greasy pole!
    But election after election he has to get the support of his local voters, and that means an office in the electorate, two if its big enough, he needs to be seen at local shows, and other events, he’s available to meet with locals, he rocks up at schools handing out flags, and he’s there on election day, going round the booths, glad handing one and all.
    Environment Minister Greg Hunt rocked up at Somers today as I was voting, there were just four of there to met him, he shook hands with the three people handing out cards, Greens, Labor and of course his mob.
    I passed up the opportunity, but there he was there if I wanted to … no minders, just a bloke casually dressed, shit-eating grin of course, safe seat Flinders.
    So by the time they get to be PM they are well used to us in shopping malls and at sausage sizzles, and course then they get a minder or two, but low key. No-one has had a real go at one of our leaders since Arthur Caldwell got shot and wounded back in the sixties I reckon.
    And of course we don’t have the gun culture that America has, I think our system would not be so free and easy if we had that aspect of American culture.

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  4. Paul Coughlin
    Posted July 2, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    A good point, Alex.
    Another one is that, regardless of their political affiliations, our politicians, including the Prime Minister, sometimes can be met literally on the street and engaged in discussion by the ordinary person.
    Contrast that with some other countries. I still remember when the President of the USA visited Australia.
    When his convoy of cars passed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge no other car was allowed on the bridge.
    Adjacent streets were also blocked off to make sure that there was no way that any ordinary person could come within cooee of him! I much prefer Australia.

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  5. Posted July 2, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    You’ll probably get your wish, Hal, expect a Senate that neither major political party will dominate, and where debate, negotiation and compromise will be the order of the day.
    A situation like this can work provided all members prioritise the interests of the nation ahead of their own parties or support groups.
    For those who are skeptical, consider that Australian politics during the colonial period of the 19th century did not feature any organised political parties until Labor arose as a minor force at the end of that century.
    Australia, almost unique in the world, suffered no wars and revolutions and created one of the most stable and long-lasting democracies in the world.
    Despite all our sometimes exasperating inconsistencies and imperfections, this country is a good place to be, and I don’t blame others from around the world who seek to come here to enjoy better lives for themselves and their families.

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