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Senate reform would lock out micro-parties

nsw-senate-ballot

My Drum column this week criticises the calls from the major parties to reform the Australian electoral system to keep out minor party preference deals as undemocratic:

Think of a vote for a micro-party as a vote against the mainstream, rather than intellectual support of the full platform of, say, the HEMP Party or the Secular Party of Australia.

… All those micro-party votes pool together through the preference system and throw up a micro-party representative.

In past elections micro-party votes would just dissipate, because the micro-parties weren’t working together and there weren’t as many Australians voting against the big players.

Yes, Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party got a tiny number of direct votes. But it’s not about him. A Senate seat isn’t a personal reward. Muir represents all those in Victoria who voted “other”.

If we rewrote our electoral system to prevent micro-parties from preference aggregation we would, in a very real way, be disenfranchising those who rejected the majors.

Where are the free speech defenders of the Left?

Janet Albrechsten, in a column in The Australian this week, has looked at the debate in Canada surrounding the repeal of that country’s hate speech laws ($). The differences between that debate and the one occurring now in Australia are unfortunately stark:

But where are those brave ­individuals? Is there just one Labor MP with a genuine commitment to free speech? Where are the Continue Reading →

Free speech and the public service

APSClogoIf you criticise your employer in public you put your job at risk. This is a reasonable condition of employment, at least in a world where corporate reputation has economic value.

Public servants are different. Their employer is the state. A free flow of discussion is a necessary constituent part of a healthy democracy. Public servants have not been disenfranchised – and nor would we want them to be – so their participation in that free debate is their right as citizens.

Public service neutrality is not premised upon public servants having no political views, rather that those views are held in a private capacity. Continue Reading →

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