Saturday, March 17, 2007

NSW 2007 - a very strange election: postscript

If you want to get a feel for the confusion created in Sydney people's minds by the current NSW election campaign, have a look at the Sydney Morning Herald's blog on transport chaos and voting intentions.

Unlike country people who generally have access to clear information about local candidates, Sydney's size means that information at electoral level is hard to come by. Beyond the sitting Labor member who I have met, I have no idea who the candidates are in the seat in which I live.

When I go to the Electoral Commission of NSW site I get the names and parties of the candidates but nothing more other than a PDF declaration that each is not a child molester.

This is, of itself, an interesting commentary on the current state if NSW politics. When did a statement that x is not a child molester become so important that it must be included as the sole piece of information about a candidate?

Digging down, I found that that the ABC election site had only very general information about Heffron. Since I already knew that it was one of the safest Labor seats in NSW, I moved on.

I then looked at James Cogan because he has no party name and I am inclined to vote independent. Here I found when I did a web search that he is in fact a member of the Socialist Equality Party Australia. I also found something that I was already aware of, the way in which the electoral rules are being twisted to prevent the emergence of new political groups.

To quote from the Socialist Equality Party web site:

The suppression of information and genuine debate extends to the very conduct of elections themselves.

In 1999 the NSW parliament passed deeply anti-democratic ballot access laws, with the backing of all the parliamentary parties—Labor, Liberal, Democrats and Greens. These laws were expressly designed to block any genuine challenge to the two-party system and to prevent dissenting political views from being publicly aired in election campaigns.

Now, to win the “privilege” of having one’s party affiliation printed on the ballot, parties without parliamentary representation must submit signed membership forms from 750 people in NSW, 12 months in advance of an election. That is why the Socialist Equality Party’s candidates will appear on the ballot paper without their party affiliation listed alongside their names.

I am no particular supporter of the Socialist Equality Party, but the NSW rules are a fundamental abrogation of democracy.

Moving on from the Socialist Equality Party, I did a web search on Scott Nash, the Liberal Party candidate. This suggested that he was a Randwick City Council alderman, but not much more. So I looked at the Liberal Party site. This had absolutely no information about him. And I am not going to vote for someone just because they are a Liberal.

The Green candidate is Ben Spies-Butcher. I am not a Green supporter. In fact, the Party is on my no vote list. However, whether I agree with him or not, Ben is clearly a person of some substance based on general web search, while the Green web site has information about him.

All this determines my lower house vote. I am going to vote Socialist Equality Party one, Green two, Liberal three. This has to be one of the strangest voting patterns in history.

I will look at the upper house in a later post.

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