Daniel Elkington

Saturday, 25 June 2016

I hate cars. Here's why I'm voting for the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party.

Election night 2013. Kevin Rudd had made a lengthy speech where he sounded far too happy given he'd lost. Tony Abbott, surrounded by his family, had made his speech promising to govern for all Australians, while protester Fregmonto Stokes successfully got onto the stage. It looked like Clive Palmer might have won Fairfax. And as I was about to go to bed, I loaded the ABC Senate results calculator, and smiled in amazement. The Sports Party were forecast to have won a seat in Western Australia, Family First in South Australia, Palmer all over the place. It wasn't totally unexpected; there had been whispers that this would be the election where the micro parties finally began winning lots of seats, and I was somewhat happy that this was true, liking the idea of a bit more colour in the Upper House. Annoyingly the party I liked the least, the Liberal Democrats, were very strong in New South Wales, but I was most interested in my home state of Victoria, where I was surprised to see...

Sure enough, Motoring Enthusiast Ricky Muir, who hadn't even tried, and hadn't really even wanted it, was to be a member of the 76-person Australian Senate, sharing the balance of power in deciding whether to let key Bills through the Parliament.

I had preferenced Ricky at number 70 out of 97 on my below-the-line vote, mostly due to my dislike of carswriting before the election about the Motoring Enthusiasts
You're probably aware that I am very much against cars. So a party that seems to be obsessed with cars, where almost all of their policies are about cars really worries me. They push the ridiculous line about how the government is interfering in our lives too much and have turned us into a Nanny State, and want us to be able to drive cars around on public land. The one redeeming feature is their reasonable education policy. They don't seem to have a climate change/asylum seeker policy, but I think I can assume that it wouldn't be good.
However, I was very curious about the accidental Senator. There was almost nothing about him anywhere, and he began avoiding all media. Until finally, nine months later, he sat down for his first proper interview. Against veteran Channel 9 Journalist Mike Willesee. And it was a trainwreck. The worst political interview performance I have ever seen.

But I really felt for him. If you were to pick up most random Australians, make them a Senator, and plop them in front of the cameras against Mike Willesee, they'd probably do just as poorly. Or they might just get angry. But even as the interview was falling apart, Ricky Muir was as polite as one could be. It was amazing.

On the day he got his Parliament House Office and his Parliamentary office address was revealed, I sent him a letter in the mail stating I was happy he had been elected as my representative, and caught the bus to Canberra a week later to watch his first week.
Booklet given to people attending the swearing in of new Senators
After being pinged by security for forgetting about the scissors in my bag, I watched as Ricky walked into the Senate for his first official day in the Chamber, in the middle of a conversation with Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong. A few of the old-time Senators made a dive for Ricky straight away to welcome him, being uncannily nice. The Senators were sworn in, and they dealt with their first matter of business, the election of the Senate President, by secret written ballot. Ricky Muir nervously covered his ballot with his hand as he wrote down a name. Stephen Parry was elected President. And they adjourned.

I continued to observe Ricky Muir over that week. He didn't get up to speak at all, he seemed too nervous, but I appreciated how much time he spent in the chamber, just sitting and listening to the various points that were raised. Clive Palmer had managed to strike a deal with the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, where Ricky Muir would, in general, vote with his Senators, which was disappointing, but I was happy to see Ricky Muir prove that he wasn't the servant of Clive Palmer on his third day in the chamber, when, after listening to the arguments of Labor and Nick Xenophon, he voted against gagging debate on repealing Australia's Carbon Price, which the PUP Senators supported.

I continued to follow the snippets of Ricky Muir in the media, and was happy to see him declare early on his support for looking after the environment, in particular his support for Renewable Energy. There was nothing anywhere I could find though about the other issue I'm passionate about; how we treat people seeking Asylum, except for a small comment in one interview where he stated that he thought it was "pretty important" and would pay attention.

I would find out his views almost five months after that first day, when I again sat in the Senate to watch the Senate debate the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014. This bill was an incredibly nasty piece of work, making it much harder for people fleeing persecution to be recognised as refugees by Australia, and giving the Immigration Minister a lot of power in deciding whether to give people protection. The Government, obviously, were supporting it. Labor and the Greens were going to oppose it. Which left the decision as to whether it would go through to the crossbenchers. Three were needed to block it.

Jacqui Lambie, and John Madigan came out reasonably early as being opposed to the bill. David Leyonhjelm and Bob Day did as they usually did at that point, which was to support almost everything the government put up that they didn't care too much about, and hence they decided to support it. Nick Xenophon would support it, with amendments the government agreed to. Which left it up to the Palmer United Party Senators and Ricky Muir.

On the Wednesday there were indications from the Palmer United Party that they would vote against the bill. It looked set to be defeated. But then on the Thursday, something changed. Clive Palmer gave a press conference stating that he had struck a deal with the government, and his Senators would support it. Which meant that, for the first time, a major decision affecting many people would be decided by the Senator Ricky Muir from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party. If he supported the bill, it would get through. If he opposed it, it wouldn't. Nobody knew what his thoughts were on Asylum Seekers. Was he just a petrol-head who didn't two hoots about people fleeing persecution? Would he even turn up to the chamber to vote?

After hearing the news from Clive Palmer, I handed in my phone and headed into the Senate at 3:33pm just as the debate on the bill was re-commencing. I would be planted to that chair for the next eight and a half hours.

Various Labor and Green Senators argued passionately against the bill. They began repeating themselves as the hours went by. And then, finally, I saw him enter. I wrote in capital letters on the handwritten notes I was taking:

He began speaking at 8:05pm. It was the first time I'd seen him speak in the Senate. It was the first time we were going to see what his views were on Asylum Seekers, potentially views that could matter, not just in this vote, but in many votes to come. Including me, there were four people in the Public Gallery. There was nobody in the Press Gallery.

Coming to a decision on this bill has been, without a doubt, one of the hardest decisions I have had to face—a choice between a bad option and a worse option. It is a decision that involves human beings: children, mothers, fathers. It involves the lives of people who have had to endure unthinkable hardship, people pushed to the point where they go to any lengths to seek asylum.

Someone had for whatever reason managed to smuggle a PHONE into the Public Gallery, and was texting away. I had never seen anyone do that before.

I believe that this bill has many bad aspects; however, I am forced into a corner to decide between a bad decision or a worse decision—a position which I do not wish on my worst enemies.

A guard evicted the person with the phone from the Public Gallery.

Ultimately, it is my desire to see the legacy case load resolved with a clear pathway to permanency for those who are found to be genuine refugees, and for those who are found not to be genuine refugees to return home. Unfortunately, due to the current government's policy, I do not have that option in front of me.

I was amazed, and took a break from furiously scribbling notes to just listen to this amazing speech.

Tonight I have also spoken with people who have worked closely with detainees on Christmas Island. They told me that this bill is not completely fair, but that the detainees are tired. They told me that the detainees have had enough and that they want out. They are desperate. She told me that they have watched the news and they know it is down to one vote, and that vote is mine.

I wondered where all the journalists were. Later I would find out that it was the night of the annual Walkley awards. The journalists were cheering each other, giving each other gongs, while this was happening. Nobody was live-blogging it. Hardly anyone was paying attention.

While I was speaking to these people and they were informing me, they started to break down and cry as they were speaking about children who have been in detention since they were born who are two years old. They speak about the word 'out'. To them 'out' means going to church on occasion, and that is it. When they hear the word 'out', they cannot begin to associate it with freedom.

The person with the phone re-entered the Public Gallery, without their phone.

They told the people in detention that they rang the office of the man whose decision it was to decide whether they would be out of detention before Christmas. That man wasn't the minister for immigration; it was me. It should not be like this but it is. The crossbench should not have been put in this position, but it has.

And so, Ricky Muir would support this bill. The bad option. He had been blackmailed by Scott Morrison, who had promised to free child refugees on Christmas Island if Ricky Muir supported this bill. The bill had nothing to do with freeing children on Christmas Island. Morrison could free them whenever he liked. But he would only do so if Ricky voted to strip away the rights of other refugees. I honestly cannot say what I would have done in that situation. Ricky chose to support the bill, and free some children from detention.

I stayed to the bitter end, sitting through vote after vote. I watched as Scott Morrison entered the chamber, and sat in the Advisor's Box, grinning. I watched as Jacqui Lambie asked the Assistant Minister for Immigration if she would resign if the children were not out by Christmas, and I watched as she refused to get up and say anything. At 11:59pm, minutes before the final vote, I watched as the Senate lights suddenly went out, plunging the chamber into darkness. I watched, my face like stone but weeping inside as the bill went through. I left at 12:19am on Friday morning.

As I write this, it's not long until the 2016 Federal Election. It's been a very long election campaign, and it's been at a strange time of the year. The reasons for this are, funnily enough, due to Ricky Muir, specifically, the government's attempts to get rid of him and the other minor parties in the Senate by holding a highly unusual Double-Dissolution election, where all Senators, even those like Muir who would otherwise continue their terms until 2020, have to face the voters. And on this occasion, I'm going to be supporting Ricky, giving him my first preference on my Senate vote, and urging others to vote for him as well as I volunteer for him on election day.

I am not doing this because his views align closer to mine than any of the other 115 candidates on the ballot paper. I do not share his enthusiasm for cars or guns. I am supporting Senator Ricky Muir because he is the ideal model of what a Senator should be. He's the result of one of the most fascinating experiments in modern Australia: what happens if you randomly choose an ordinary Australian and stick them in the Senate. Ricky has ended up showing that an ordinary, sensible Australian can do a better job than any of the other political hacks in the chamber.

The major party Senators have to compromise their personal beliefs all the time, and recite dull, repetitive talking points when asked questions. Ricky speaks in plain English. The other Senators either have dictated to them a position or pick one, and then throw themselves behind that position, ignoring evidence to the contrary as they argue their case. Ricky carefully examines both sides, listening to the arguments presented, and changes his mind as the facts change. Take some of the other crossbenchers - Senator Leyonhjelm is rude and arrogant, while Muir continues to be as polite and friendly as you could hope for. Senator Bob Day seems to just vote with the government if he doesn't understand something, while Muir actually thinks through the issues. Jacqui Lambie seems to have rather extreme views when it comes to Terrorism and National Service, while Ricky Muir is more balanced and doesn't feel the need to make a big deal about what religious attire people wear.

Ricky Muir understands what it is like to be poor and unemployed; he's lived it very recently. He understands matters of fairness better than most Senators. When the government threatened him with this election if he didn't pass their Building and Construction Commission Bill, he voted against it, acknowledging that by doing so he'd probably lose his job. His voice needs to be in our Senate.

While of course I would prefer it if he took a stronger stance on matters such as Climate Change, he's never expressed Climate Denial, and apart from his confused second week in the Senate where he voted to repeal the Carbon Price on the advice of Clive Palmer, on the occasions where he has spoken or voted on environmental matters, I've usually supported his position.

Some people criticise Muir because they believe he was elected "undemocratically" at the last election, receiving 0.51% of the vote at the 2013 election. I disagree with this viewpoint. 16.58% of voters in Victoria did not vote for Labor, the Coalition or the Greens in the Senate, and these people need to be represented. The typical rationale for voting for one of these micro parties, particularly above the line, is because one is disengaged by the system, doesn't want career politicians in the Parliament, and wants a more average Australian to represent them. If they voted below the line, they entirely picked the parties and candidates they wanted, but if they voted above the line, they were trusting the party to preference parties it could tolerate. Some say this is where the system failed, because micro parties were preferencing parties they had no ideological affiliation with - meaning far left parties were preferencing those on the far right, and vice-versa. This isn't entirely true however - a close reading of the group voting tickets shows that the micro parties mostly preferenced those other micro parties who had similar views, and then preferenced those parties who they weren't as close to, but could still "tolerate" their opinions. Parties that don't seem particularly 'left' or particularly 'right' on the spectrum that other micro parties, no matter their leanings, could at least put up with, parties like the Australian Sports Party, or indeed, the Motoring Enthusiast Party. Ricky Muir's election was entirely democratic; 1/6 voters said they didn't want major parties controlling the Senate, voted for alternative voices, and as a result of this 1/6 of Victoria's elected Senators was a non-major party individual whose views weren't particularly extreme to anyone.

It's a shame that the system won't really represent these voters anymore. Now if you're not a particularly engaged person who just walks in, preferences a couple of random micro parties and leaves, your vote will simply exhaust and won't count for anything.

There may indeed be others on the ballot paper who are ordinary Australians who would be good representatives in the Senate running as independents or for micro parties, but even if I could reliably identify which of them would be the perfect person for the job, none of them in this new Senate voting system would have a ghost of a chance of being elected. Ricky does have a chance. It's small, but he has a bit of name recognition, and I've already run into a few people who have also noticed his quiet achievements and are planning on voting for him.

So I would therefore urge you - if you live in Victoria, put Ricky first or near the top of your Senate vote. If you're worried about wasting your vote on someone who probably won't get elected, don't - it's not how our system works. Just number all the boxes (or at least as many as you can) and either Ricky Muir won't get elected and your vote will flow straight to the candidate of your choice, or you'll help an honest, decent Australian defy the odds and get elected to be a representative you can be proud of.

If you're still not convinced, just find any recent wide-ranging Ricky Muir interview and listen to it. For example this one.

Just in case you're curious as to how the rest of my vote will look like, my lower-house vote in the seat of Melbourne will look like this:

1. Miranda Joyce Smith - Animal Justice Party
2. Sophie Ismail - Australian Labor Party
3. Adam Bandt - The Greens
4. Matt Riley - Drug Law Reform
5. Le Liu - Liberal
6. Lewis Freeman-Harrison - Australian Sex Party

In Melbourne this time around, it's a relatively simple ballot paper with 6 candidates, and for me three of them immediately fell into the "good" group and I was left to decide which of them was the best, and three fell into the "bad" group and I was left to decide which was the worst. The decision to preference Labor ahead of the Greens was a tough one, but was mostly down to the Greens' decision to vote through the changes to the Senate Voting System, which might benefit them electorally, but could effectively void the ballots of those people looking for alternatives and deny them representation. Labor's candidate in Melbourne has views on Asylum Seekers that are much better than her party's, and I think she would be a welcome voice inside the Labor caucus to replace those of Melissa Parke and Anna Burke, both of whom are retiring. My vote shouldn't make much of a difference here however; Adam Bandt should get in easily.

I never like giving a major party my first preference because of the wonderful Single Transferrable Value voting system we have in Australia that lets you preference minor parties and still let your vote count for someone, so while I wish there was more choice on my ballot paper, I'll be giving my first preference to the Animal Justice Party. I saw Miranda Joyce Smith at a Meet the Candidates Forum, and she spoke very well. I would be happy to have her as my local representative. Le Liu, my Liberal candidate, did not turn up to that forum. If he'd turned up and been a really good candidate, he might have slipped ahead of Matt Riley from the Drug Law Reform party, but as it was I have to preference Riley just above the Liberals because he seemed like a genuine person, and did his best. I can't put the Drag Law Reform party any higher though; while their policies to help drug users stay safer by decriminalising or legalising the use of certain drugs may be arguable, their logo seems to undermine any sensibleness in appearing designed to trick gullible voters into thinking that they stand for giving out free drugs or something...
No surprise that I'm putting the Sex Party last, their views remain as intolerable for me as they did at the last election.

My full Senate vote is as follows, with comments:
1. Ricky Muir - Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
2. Eric Vardarlis - Independent
Very good ideas on Climate Change, refugees, taxation, education, and the like. A lawyer who has taken the government to court over Asylum Seekers in the past.

3. David Knight - Australian Progressives
4. Josh Gilmore - Australian Progressives
Strong on Climate Change, compassionate towards Asylum Seekers. Have a decent set of policies.

5. Lalitha Chelliah - Socialist Alliance
6. Tim Gooden - Socialist Alliance
Excellent on refugees, against cars and roads, very very strong Climate Change policy.

7. Misha Coleman - The Greens
I'm not voting for the Greens according to their ticket, and have instead taken a quick look at the individual candidates. Coleman seems to be the best; she's done a lot for refugees and her voice in the Parliament would be very useful.

8. James Searle - The Greens
I had him as a guest lecturer once at Uni, and he does a lot of good work at the Swinburne Student Union. He's also volunteered quite a bit at the Swinburne Programming Helpdesk, which is a useful service.

9. David Collyer - Group B Independent
10. Wanda Mitchell-Cook - Group B Independent
This group is actually what is left of the Australian Democrats - they didn't manage to get properly registered as a party. Lots of well defined policies on various issues, including compassion towards refugees, good Climate Change action, and their candidates for Victoria seem very intelligent - Collyer is the director of a progressive think tank, and Mitchell-Cook is a nurse educator.

11. Danielle Lehrer - VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!
12. Stuart James Milne - VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!
Vote Flux wants to have an app. When there's a bill in the Parliament, you (as an average citizen) open the app and vote, and the Vote Flux Senator does whatever the app tells them to. You can swap votes with other people, not vote on something and get two votes down the track, or nominate a party or other person to vote on your behalf. An interesting idea, but probably won't work in practice because of being easy to rig and not representing the vast majority of Australians who would never download the app in the first place or take the time to properly understand what they are doing. Still, I would love having my own vote on bills in the Senate, and while I wouldn't want every Senator to do what an app tells them to, having one or two in the Senate from Vote Flux would make things interesting.

13. Christopher Beslis - Independent 
A lefty Uni Student who has good policies on Asylum Seekers, reasonably good intentions on Climate Change, and other interesting ideas that have merit, but perhaps aren't that well thought out.

14. Anna Crabb - The Greens
15. Richard Di Natale - The Greens
Crabb has volunteered a lot for good causes, and leader Richard Di Natale does okay, but maybe isn't the most interesting person to listen to.

16. Luke James - Science Party
Love the environment policies, particularly around having an ETS and having a bullet train in Australia. Want to close offshore detention as well. As a Christian, some of their social policies don't really square with me however.

17. Graham Askey - Renewable Energy Party
18. Gary Wilson - Renewable Energy Party
Good on the environment, renewable energy, and Climate Change (as you would expect), but no real Asylum Seeker policy that I can find. Askey seems to be a bit of a micro-party guru, having been the Registered Officer for the HEMP Party for 15 years, and having helped minor parties with their preference negotiations.

19. Chris Sinnema - Socialist Equality Party
20. Peter Byrne - Socialist Equality Party
Pretty average socialist party intent on helping workers. Has a good Asylum Seeker policy, Climate Change policy is a bit of a mish-mash and doesn't seem as much of a priority as it should be.

21. Elise Klein - The Greens
22. Jennifer Alden - The Greens
23. Tasma Minifie - The Greens
24. Judy Cameron - The Greens
25. Gurm Sekhon - The Greens
26. Josephine Maguire-Rosier - The Greens
27. Rose Read - The Greens
The Greens have a lot of candidates.

28. Bruce Poon - Animal Justice Party
29. Jacqueline Edgecombe - Animal Justice Party
Strong Climate Change policies, hints that they'd be good on refugee and immigration matters. They want to advocate a wider uptake of plant-based diets, and Bruce Poon works in IT as a Project Manager!

30. Lachlan Simpson - Pirate Party
31. Richard Burleigh - Pirate Party
Supports Carbon Pricing, and has a good Asylum Seeker policy. Their income tax policy looks good, and is party based on the Basic Income idea, which looks after the poor. However, it doesn't seem to tax wealthy people at a high enough rate.

32. Janet Rice - The Greens
A current Senator, who has been a bit uninspiring. I've been in the Senate for some of her speeches, and they can be a little dull.

33. Rose Godde - The Arts Party
34. Jamie Christopher Henson - The Arts Party
35. Maureen J Andres - The Arts Party
Pretty good Asylum Seeker Policymaybe except for making asylum seekers check in with the Department of Immigration weekly when living in the community. Supports carbon pricing. Most policies are about advocating for more funding for the Arts, which isn't really a particularly big issue for me, and they seem to hedge their bets both ways when it comes to vaccinations. Oh, and they have Anthony Ackroyd, the famous Rudd impersonator, running against Malcolm Turnbull in the seat of Wentworth. Just because.

36. Chien-Hui Yang - Australian Labor Party
37. Jacinta Collins - Australian Labor Party
38. Gavin Marshall - Australian Labor Party
Yang looks to be the best of the Labor Party Senate candidates. She's a migrant, and a science and technology professional who hopes to increase the cultural diversity of the Senate. While she supported Rudd, I feel that sitting Senator Jacinta Collins' views on certain social policies align more with my thinking than other Labor MPs. Gavin Marshall, another sitting Senator, doesn't seem to do much at the moment, but he's had reasonable views on Asylum Seekers in the past.

39. Nik Dow - Australian Cyclists Party
This party is all about bikes, and not much else. Is this really a federal issue in need of a Federal Party? Dow seems good though - he's riding his bike because he wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport.

40. Vickie Janson - Australian Christians
41. Eleni Arapoglou - Australian Christians
42. Anne Okumu - Australian Christians
While they want to increase foreign aid, and some of their views on Asylum Seekers appear reasonable, they seem to want to discriminate in favour of Christian refugees, and want temporary protection visas, which I don't really agree with. When it comes to Climate Change they seem rather vague, except for making it clear that they don't want a "carbon tax" or large-scale renewable energy.

43. Stephen Michael Conroy - Australian Labor Party
Sitting Senator, senior Labor MP, and a leader of the right faction. While he rightly supported Gillard (yes I'm still judging Labor MPs on this), he's quite a brash and rude person in the Senate.

44. Catriona Cecilia Thoolen - Palmer United Party
We've had a few years of Clive and his Senator(s), and in hindsight they were quite reasonable on most policies. They mostly looked after the poor, and ended up being better than expected on the environment. However the party is quite erratic, and seems to just try to judge whatever is going to be most popular view and go for it without really believing in much. Who knows what would happen if we were to elect another Palmer Senator - would they start their own party or do whatever Clive tells them to?

Thoolen however seems surprisingly left-wing on Twitter, and appears to be a serial commenter on news website, surprisingly offering good comments most of the time. Seems to be a bit brainwashed by PUP though.

Oh - and why is the Palmer United Party website directing you to their campaign website which has the URL 'thetruthhub.com'?

45. Kathryn Breakwell - Health Australia Party
This party wants to be humane to Asylum Seekers, and wants Public Transport instead of roads, but appears to be anti-vaccination. Breakwell is their second candidate on the ballot paper, seems to want to focus more on environmental issues, and is the editor of "Vegetarian Victoria".

46. Louise Persse - Australian Labor Party
47. Steve Kent - Australian Labor Party
48. Les Tarczon - Australian Labor Party
Various ALP candidates with very little information about them that I can find. They mostly appear to be various people who worked for Unions, and are now being shoved into un-winnable Senate candidate spots. Tarczon in particular doesn't appear particularly bright, and found a shotgun cartridge in his letterbox back in 2004!

49. May Hanna - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
50. Stephanie Botros - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
The Christian Democratic Party doesn't seem to have clear policies on major issues, appearing to leave these to individual candidates. Hanna, their top Victorian candidate, is a lawyer working to help Asylum Seekers, but is strongly opposed to negative gearing changes, which is a bit of a shame (I'm strongly in favour).

51. Kim Carr - Australian Labor Party
While he's appeared to have reasonable views on Asylum Seekers, he was a major destabiliser of Julia Gillard, and as a result, I cannot stomach the idea of rewarding this by giving him a high preference on my ballot paper.

52. Georgia Nicholls - Sustainable Australia
53. Steven Armstrong - Sustainable Australia
Public transport instead of roads, and they want to abolish Negative Gearing! While they accept that the humanitarian refugee intake isn't the problem when it comes to an unsustainable population, their idea of dramatically lowering non-humanitarian immigration is questionable. Their environment plan is vague.

54. John Karagiannidis - Independent
This guy is sick of the political duopoly, wants to do something about Climate Change, and has various "nice" policies - the sorts of things that random people often come up with as "good ideas" that maybe aren't that well thought-through and which maybe aren't major priorities. He'd been trying to crowd fund campaign money for the last 2 months when I took a look at his page, and it was still stuck on $0 - nobody had donated. I felt sorry for him, so I gave him his first donation - $5.

55. Naomi Halpern - Nick Xenophon Team
56. Justin Lee - Nick Xenophon Team
The Nick Xenophon Team is so vague on everything. Xenophon himself has basically shown himself to be a populist/centrist party that often supports the government on controversial matters, with an amendment or two. I'm rather worried about him having too much power, and would prefer the crossbench to be a little more diverse.

57. Roy Ridge - Mature Australia
58. Graham McCarthy - Mature Australia
Wishy-washy Asylum Seeker Policy, but probably better than what we currently have. Their focus is mostly on health policies for the elderly. I've swapped the two candidates around, mostly because Ridge has a lot to say on fairness, is concerned about homelessness, and the rich not paying enough tax.

59. Karthik Arasu - Independent
A few weird, populist "nice ideas" that are unlikely to happen. Seems like a decent chap though.

60. Aaron Mackey - Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party
Ricky Muir's running-mate. Seems to be a huge petrolhead who loves burnouts. Yes, he might be another Muir, but there really isn't enough evidence to suggest this.

61. Stephen Vereker - DLP Democratic Labour
62. Michael Freeman - DLP Democratic Labour
The DLP's Asylum Seeker Policy is reasonable, but not the best. They also appear to be Climate Change skeptics.

63. Mark Francis Dickenson - Independent
Appears to be compassionate towards Asylum Seekers, and wants to do something about Climate Change, although this doesn't seem to be a priority - he only appears to have blogged about it once back in 2014.

64. Meredith Urie - Independent 
Has been a local council member, and has various "nice" policies. She speaks okay in her various Youtube videos.

65. Stephen Juhasz - Independent
Very little detail about him. He wants to take on the banks.

66. Derryn Hinch - Derryn Hinch's Justice Party
67. Stuart Grimley - Derryin Hinch's Justice Party
Against animal cruelty, but the main platform seems to be longer sentences for criminals, because "it's just common sense". Except it's not actually the best way of reducing crime and creating a better society. No policies on Climate Change or Asylum Seekers, but in the past Hinch has used rather inflammatory rhetoric to spout some ill-informed views on Asylum Seekers. At this point he looks very likely to actually win a Senate spot due to some good media coverage, reasonable campaigning, first spot on the ballot paper, and preferences from both Labor and the Coalition.

68. John Madigan - MFP
69. Mark George - MFP
Seems to have stolen Labor's "Putting People First" slogan. As a sitting Senator and former DLP politician, Madigan has been reasonable, if dull. He's been quite good on Asylum Seekers, but bad on the environment - he has a thing about wind farms.

70. Karina Okotel - Liberal
Appears to be the best Liberal candidate on the ballot paper. Works as a lawyer at Victoria Legal Aid, interested in Human Rights and helping the vulnerable.

71. John Sherman - Drug Law Reform
The Drug Law Reform Party has its various drug policies (decriminalise drug use, reform how we treat drug users), and apart from that, all members get a conscience vote on other legislation. This is their second candidate, who is a Medical Doctor who seems quite good.

72. Hugh Dolan - Jacqui Lambie Network
73. Matt Timson - Jacqui Lambie Network
I tried to visit the Jacqui Lambie Network website to investigate her policies, and got this:

I got the same message when I tried again the next day. Hmm.

Lambie has been good at sticking up for the poor, and has made the Senate much more interesting. However she's erratic, and a bit mad on issues like terrorism and the armed forces. While she has her moments, on the whole she's not that good on Asylum Seekers or the environment. The snippets of information I can find on her Victorian candidates suggest they're not too bad - Dolan has an army background and writes comic books.

74. Dana Spasojevic - Independent
A truck driver and a Mum, who seems to have just randomly decided to run for the Senate because why not?

75. Cameron Hickey - Palmer United Party
Not much on this guy other than him being a "small business" person.

76. Dennis Hall - Independent
Seems a bit strange.

77. Greg Chipp - Drug Law Reform
Son of Don Chipp from the Democrats. Doesn't seem as good as their second candidate.

78. Geoff Lutz - Independent 
A ghost. There's basically nothing about him online, except that he's a semi-retired orchadist. He's given his phone number and an email address to the AEC - if I had more time I might have called him to find out what his views are and why he's running.

79. David James Scanlon - Voluntary Euthanasia Party
80. Miranda Jones - Voluntary Euthanasia Party
Obviously they're mostly about Euthanasia, which I'm not terribly enthusiastic about. They say they'll be "moderate" and "progressive" on other issues.

81. Allan Mull - Independent 
People need to experience hardship. That's why he wants compulsory defence training for everyone after they finish High School. Hmm. Apart from that, he's a former farmer who's into defence.

82. Immanuel Shmuel - Independent 
Not that much in the way of actual policy. Doesn't make a lot of sense.

83. Chris Ryan - Independent
A lawyer. Another ghost. Why did I put him here when I put the other ghost up at 78? Maybe I'm judging them on their occupation, and think more highly of semi-retired orchidists than I do of lawyers. I really don't know. He just feels better down here.

84. Mitch Fifield - Liberal
A reasonable, moderate Liberal who helped Turnbull get in. He's always spoken well when I've watched the Senate.

85. Garry Kerr - Australian Country Party
86. Phil Larkin - Australian Country Party
Basically another Nationals/Katter party who like to shoot, hunt and fish. They like guns.

87. Scott Ryan - Liberal
Sitting Senator who voted for Turnbull in the spill, but doesn't seem to do much in the Senate.

88. Isaac Golden - Health Australia Party
Appears to be a major vaccine skeptic with weird views on medicine.

89. Glenn Floyd - Independent
Would highly recommend that you go to his website. No really, do it. You'll laugh. Keep reading all the way to the bottom. This guy is bonkers. Totally bonkers. You'll see.

Everyone is corrupt in politics. Everyone. But not Glenn Floyd. When he gets elected, he'll put every meeting he attends on Youtube, he'll put all emails he sends and receives online, and he'll never take a donation.

90. Trevor William Nye - Independent 
Quite vague, except that he wants "strong borders".

91. Peter John Hawks - Independent
Seems to be into weird, right-wing issues.

92. Bridget McKenzie - The Nationals
93. Jane Hume - Liberal
94. Rebecca Treloar - The Nationals
Your typical Liberal/Nationals.

95. Peter Timothy Bain - Family First Party
96. Randell Green - Family First Party
97. Craig Manners - Family First Party
If Senator Bob Day is to be any guide, the Family First Party has turned into a front for the Liberal Party. They're terrible on the environment, terrible on Asylum Seekers. Jacqui Lambie's probably right - they should change their name to "Rich Family First".

98. Jake Wilson - Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
99. Ethan Constantinou - Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
They love their guns, and really want to be able to use them for home protection. They want strong border protection, and are climate skeptics.

100. Jason Tuazon-McCheyne - Marriage Equality
101. Jacqueline Tomlins - Marriage Equality
All policies are basically about LGBTIQ issues, and nothing else. As in, they don't seem to have any defined policies on anything else at all.

102. Meredith Doig - Australian Sex Party
103. Amy Mulch - Australian Sex Party
Since the last election they've developed their Asylum Seeker policy a bit, until it actually looks quite good, and they have a sort-of okay Climate Change policy. However I cannot in good conscience vote for a party so totally against Christians, and which makes this very very clear.

104. James Paterson - Liberal
The youngest Liberal Senator. Unfortunately he's an IPA extremist.

105. Craig Isherwood - Citizens Electoral Council
106. Gabrielle Peut - Citizens Electoral Council
We're really at the loony end of the ballot paper now. This one is perhaps the most loony of all the parties. You probably don't want to go to their website, but if you do, you can go here. Be prepared for lots and lots of conspiracy theories. As an example, they believe that Climate Change is a "fraud", but that's probably their most mainstream conspiracy theory. Surprisingly enough, they do seem to have some decent views on refugees.

107. Daniel Nalliah - Rise Up Australia Party
108. Rosalie Crestani - Rise Up Australia Party
"RUAP's views on Global Warning have been long known. It doesn't exist!" Still trying to figure out if the "Global Warning" typo is deliberate or not. They want to send all Asylum Seekers back to where they came from. Racist. Bad.

109. John Perkins - Secular Party of Australia
110. Alice Carr - Secular Party of Australia
Really good climate change policy, with carbon pricing and all. While their Asylum Seeker policy is vague, it's sort of on the right track. However they live up to their name in being against religious institutions, and think that the idea of people having religious beliefs "can be harmful to society".

111. Simon Peter Roylance - Pauline Hanson's One Nation
112. Ian John Cameron - Pauline Hanson's One Nation
Unfortunately Pauline might actually win her Senate Seat at this election, but that's up to Queensland. Victoria won't vote in any of her friends thankfully.

113. Daniel Jones - Australian Liberty Alliance
114. Kenneth Nicholls - Australian Liberty Alliance
Ban all Muslims! They're worried about Donald Trump stealing their ideas. Skeptical about Climate Change. Want to remove Australia from the UN Charter on Refugees, and in particular don't want any refugees from "Africa, the Middle East and Asia."

115. David Limbrick - Liberal Democrats
116. Duncan Spender - Liberal Democrats
As usual, the Liberal Democrats end up at the very bottom, and experiencing an actual Liberal Democrat Senator hasn't improved them in my mind at all. Leyonhjelm is amusing to listen to, but is very rude, and is frighteningly intelligent in the way he argues his party's insane policies. I'm fearing that he may win back his NSW Senate Seat, and if he were to spark more interest in his party and get other Senators elected I think we'd be in nightmare territory. While I think they may have removed some of the more extreme stuff from their website since Leyonhjelm was elected, they're still happy to admit that they want to privatise education, cut all foreign aid, abolish Medicare, do nothing about Climate Change, do nothing for refugees, and they want more guns. I try not to stay on their website for too long; it's exhausting and it makes me quite angry. I'm numbering their two candidates in reverse order, mostly because Spender is a Liberal Democrat veteran who helped start the party and developed most of their policies, while Limbrick doesn't seem to have devoted his life to the LDP, instead having a degree in computing and having spent time working at a rural internet startup.

Senate results will take longer than usual this year, but I can't wait for the results! Hoping for some decent minor party representation that isn't too insane. Happy voting everyone!


  1. A lot of research, as usual. Something I wish I had time to do. Grateful for your thoughts.

  2. Thanks tons Daniel - I found this extremely helpful - and very useful to have the benefit of your research! I have reordered just a few of your Senate nominations (in favour of the Greens over Socialists) other than that - I am going with your numbering. I have found the list for Wills 10 candidates - but again your descriptors for the Senate) helped me with ordering my preferences. I clicked on the 5th rating box (which I hope is a positive one - as I cant see the text descriptor!!!!). Thanks again - God Bless, LynnJ

    1. Cheers Lynn, glad I could be of some assistance.


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