We should all be alarmed by the preference deals for Senate seats (”Abbott faces chaos in Senate”, The Sunday Age, 1/9). Small parties with no track record are likely to hold the balance of power in the next Senate. We’ve seen this before with Brian Harradine during the Howard era. Harradine did not receive a high primary vote yet preference deals got him over the line; he unashamedly used his balance of power in the Senate to promote his religious beliefs.
Most of us vote above the line on the Senate ballot. However, to avoid accidentally giving our preferences to Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Pirate Party Australia, Palmer United Party, Katter’s Australian Party or One Nation, we will need to go below the line, which is no easy task. Senate ballot papers are now the size of tablecloths. With 529 candidates, some with misleading party titles, how is it possible to make a well-informed vote? Our true democratic voting system has been corrupted. Providing magnifying glasses in some voting booths will not prevent surprise parties getting over the line.
First published as a letter in The Age on 2 September 2013