Much of the attention on the federal election in Farrer has been on the lower house, and about who will be our next local member.
Many might not know the vast range of parties you can vote for in the Australian Senate, known as the upper house.
On the ballot paper for NSW you’ll find the usual suspects: Coalition, Labor, Greens, One Nation, Independents, Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers, Christian Democratic Party, United Australia Party and the Animal Justice Party.
The hardest thing about voting for some parties in the Senate is remembering what they and rival independents stand for.
There are a total of 35 different parties standing, plus 14 independents vying to represent NSW in the upper house.
Some parties have more candidates than others, and as a consequence we have a total of 105 people on the jumbo-sized ballot paper.
The irony is we often complain about the lack of delivery and diversity from the major parties and demand something else, however when democracy offers those other options we moan about the size of ballot paper.
Some make it easier by actually stating who they are and what they represent in the party name such as: Affordable Housing Party, Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party, Australian Conservatives, Independents For Climate Action Now, The Women’s Party, Involuntary Medication Objectors (Vaccination/Fluoride) Party, The Small Business Party and FRASER ANNING’S CONSERVATIVE NATIONAL PARTY (yes, registered in all capital letters).
Others you can guess by having some sort of broad knowledge of politics such as Socialist Equality Party, Australian Workers Party, Liberal Democrats, Socialist Alliance and Sustainable Australia.
But then going through the rest of the ballot paper, things start to get a little harder.
Most of them have names that indicate they’re different from the two major parties, but the difficult part is deciphering on what side of the political spectrum they stand.
A prime example is The Together Party. For the average voter looking at that name you would have no idea what they represent.
Does it represent right-wing populism keeping ‘dinky-di’ Aussies together? Or does it represent a hard-left open immigration policy where were all together as one?
Well according to The Together Party manifesto it says: ‘‘Together campaigns for the restoration of Government in the public interest, as a constructive force for positive change across our society, from public broadcasting to a national ICAC, from stopping privatisation of public assets to tenure for public servants’’.
So essentially a party that vows to bring Australia ‘together’ by nationalising public interest corporations to benefit the tax payer.
The list of parties, with eye catching but puzzling names, goes on: Citizens Electoral Council, Climate Action! Immigration Action! Accountable Politicians!, Pirate Party, Rise Up Australia Party, Australian People’s Party, The Great Australian Party and last but not least VOTEFLUX.ORG | Upgrade Democracy!.
Micro parties with big, bold ‘stick it to the man’ names vying for a Senate position isn’t exclusive to NSW.
In WA you can vote for the Yellow Vests or Western Australian Party, our Tasmanian cousins can re-elect Jacqui Lambie and Victoria includes the Secular Party of Australia, a few other left-wing parties and Senator Derryn Hinch who is seeking re-election through his Justice Party. Unsurprisingly Nick Xenophon’s Central Alliance is running again in South Australia, while Queensland has a more right-wing prominence with Love Australia or Leave, and Katter’s Australian Party.
All of these parties, all of these candidates clustered across one piece of paper — and only six from each state will be elected to the Senate in 2019.
Some of these micro parties are likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate for the next three years ... and that’s a scary thought. But we have the rare opportunity to vote for a local Senate candidate in Perin Davey, who is standing for The Nationals.