Well, that was close.
We have a very strange way of chosing our upper house representatives here in Australia. On the surface, it is a very fair way of distributing preferences. In the Federal Election, a certain number of seats is given to each State. In the States, the state is divided into regions, and a certain number (five in Victoria) of seats are elected for each region. I can’t quite work out how it is all done, but the preferential voting system has the quirk of often delivering a final seat to a party that had very small primary votes, but gets in on preferences.
That is the way in which Family First got its first senator in the Federal Senate six years ago, and the way in which the Democratic Labor Party got its first seat in the Legislative Council in Victoria at the last elections. It also ensures that the Greens generally get a small number of seats.
This time, however, things looked dicey in at least one region in Victoria. The Family First candidate and the DLP candidate were excluded in the Northern Metropolitan Region, and for a while it looked like an independant with Liberal sympathies (Stephen Mayne) would get the final seat. Then yesterday I heard the news that, thanks to the way the preferences fell, the “donkey vote” for the Sex Party looked set to deliver a seat to them in this region. Yikes! Give me a Green any day!
Anyway, relief at the very last seems to have given the final seat to a Liberal candidate. Premier Ted will be pleased.
But it does demonstrate how dangerous the system can be. Those preferences count, folks. To make sure that your vote goes the way it should, do what I do: fill out all the numbers below the line. It takes a bit of time, but it is the RESPONSIBLE way to vote.