If this upcoming election is your first you may be surprised when you reach the ballot box to see there are more options than Labor and Liberal, in fact the typical ballot paper (for the House of Representatives) has about five or six options. Although Australia has been dominated by two parties there are in fact several options when it comes to voting.
Today in Voting 101 I will be exploring some of the minor parties which you can vote for (note some of these parties may not be running candidates in any ACT seats, do your research before you get too attached).
Minor parties are typically voted into the senate as a different electoral system is used, one which does not require a candidate to receive a majority of the votes . It uses a system which results in proportional representation.
Perhaps the most well known out of the minor parties, the foundations of The Greens began in the 1970’s in response to the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania. Future Greens leaders – Bob Brown and Christine Milne were present at these protests. In 1983, The Greens were registered as a political party in New South Wales and their first senator was elected in WA in 1990.
They are a left party which defines its four principles as ecological sustainability, grassroots democracy, social justice and peace and non-violence.
In recent years a number of Australia’s youth have been attracted to The Greens due to their environmentalist platform, social policies and their refugee and asylum seeker policy.
The party was built on an environmentalist platform and this remains a core part of their platform. They deem climate change as the most important challenge the world is facing and are seeking “to cultivate a global, ecological consciousness based on a long-term perspective in order to safeguard the interests of both existing and future generations and species.”
The Greens have perhaps been the most socially progressive party in Australia. They were one of the first to call fore marriage equality and the party is passionate about the Safe Schools program.
Their refugee and asylum seeker policy – A better way strongly condemns offshore detention and if by some miracle they win the election they would close all offshore detention centres. They would also increase Australia’s annual refugee intake to 50,000.
The Greens do receive their fair share of criticism for their economic policies which many believe is not the party’s strong point.
The Liberal Democrats
If you have ever studied an introductory political course you would have studied the ideology of Liberalism, well the Liberal Democrats (LDP) aim to follow that as closely as possible.
The LDP describe themselves as “anti-right, anti-left, pro-liberty.” The party’s core principles include free markets and freedom of choice, civil society and volunteerism, a constitutional liberal democracy and free trade.
The Liberal Democrats began in 2001 and first ran in the ACT Legislative Assembly election. In registering their party name they faced a number of issues, mainly due to the closeness of the name to the Liberal National Party. In 2013, the LDP was voted into the senate, represented by David Leyonhjelm.
Leyonhjelm has faced great criticism due to his pro-gun stance. Last year he appeared in a video for the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) Calling Australia “a defenceless country these days” and a “nation of victims.”
In regards to policies, the Liberal Democrats would substantially cut taxes and limit the government to defence, immigration, basic public services and assistance only to the least well off. The party would advocate for voluntary voting and have outlined a number of other constitutional changes they would like to explore.
The Sex Party
Due to its name, The Sex Party cannot help but stand out. However contrary to this, The Sex Party is about more than just sex. The Australian Sex Party was established in 2009 as a response to what they call “increasingly draconian censorship laws and escalating encroachment on adult’s civil liberties.”
Steven Bailey is the President of the Australian Sex Party in the ACT, he is currently running in the senate race in the ACT and will then run in the ACT Legislative Assembly elections in October.
“As the ACT is only entitled to two Senate seats, it is extremely difficult for minor parties and Independents to be elected. In fact, it has never happened. Canberrans need to realise that because there are only two Senate seats, giving a minor party anything other than a number one vote is futile, as the preferences of the voter do not flow if the major parties reach their quotas,” he said.
“Despite the odds, and considering that minor parties are no longer able to share preferences due to the recent Senate voting reforms, I believe that it’s a moral obligation to give the people of the ACT the chance to vote for a progressive alternative outside of the three major powers.
“Policies and positions are important, but the health of our democracy is important as well. I reject the two-party or three-party parliamentary system. A healthy and modern democracy should comprise of numerous political forces who work together in the parliaments of Australia. This happens in European democracies, Japan, and sometimes in South America.”
Mr Bailey outlined what he believes are the Sex Party’s most important policies:
1) We want religious entities to pay their fair share of tax.
2) We want to stop the war on drugs, and legalise cannabis
3) We stand against the data retention laws, on the basis that numerous entities can access your personal information without a warrant.
4) We stand for voluntary euthanasia because we believe that people have the right to die with dignity.
5) And we stand for the humane treatment of asylum seekers. Off shore processing is expensive and inhumane.
The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
A specialist party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (AMEP) are primarily concerned with “protecting the future of the Motoring Enthusiast culture and the industry that it supports.”
The policies of the AMEP include greater road safety by educating all young drivers “in all aspects of road safety, including personal responsibility, driving skills and habits, vehicle maintenance and the right of every Australian to ‘survive the drive‘.” They want to improve national roads and highways and improve access to land for off-road drivers.
On its website, the party has outlined its core values which include minimal government interference, personal responsibility, a sense of family, freedom of speech, education regardless of wealth, “mateship”, robust National Security and that the well-being of Australians is foremost.
The AMEP has one senator, Ricky Muir.
Basically, it is an interest party, one that is not seeking power rather just influence to get through some of their policies.
The Jacqui Lambie Network
Jacqui Lambie has been an ever present force in Australian politics since she was first elected to the senate in 2013 as a representative of the Palmer United Party (PUP). In 2014, she left PUP due to a feud with Clive Palmer, the party’s leader and namesake.
In March last year, Ms Lambie announced her new political party – the Jacqui Lambie Network (JLN).
The party will be running candidates in four states – Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
JLN’s policies include an emphasis on defence personnel, veteran welfare, a boost to TAFE and institutional pathways, clearer Halal food labelling, halving the foreign aid budget and the establishment of dedicated Indigenous seats in the Australian parliament.
Across Australia there are a number of people who choose to run as independent candidates, meaning they are not aligned to any political party.
Andrew Dewson is an independent running for the ACT seat of Yerrabi who said that an independent is someone whom advocates for their community.
“An independent candidate is an individual who’s focused on their community and the people in it. Someone who isn’t looking for power, rather interested in being an advocate or voice for their community,” he said.
“Basically, I couldn’t put my name to a major party. I didn’t agree enough with the policies on either side of politics and I believe as an Independent, I would be better suited to advocate for my community and not have restrictions place on me that other party candidates have.”
Mr Dewson defines himself as “being somewhat left of centre.”
Some of his policies include green waste bins across the ACT, a bond loan program to assist renters, a focus on government transparency, an eco-housing fund which would allow residents to access cheap loans to purchase energy efficient and eco wise products, a one stop complaints ombudsman, duplication of roads in the Gungahlin area and a housing affordability program which would focus on a minimum number of land sales only being available for first home buyers.
So there we go, some of the minor parties you can vote for if you feel disillusioned with the two major ones.
If you vote for a minor party will it count?
Well, to put it simply a minor party will not win the upcoming election and it is unlikely they will win any of the next few elections. Historically, it is rather difficult for a minor party to win a seat in the house of representatives, however, they do have the potential to wield great influence in the senate. However, your vote can send a message,
Other parties were contacted for comment
By Lucy Bladen
Featured image: By JJ Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,