Ep 1: Am I wasting my vote if I vote for an independent or minor party?

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In this ep we ask: If you want to vote for an independent candidate or a minor party, are you wasting your vote?

We chat to Rebekha Sharkie MP. She has previously worked for a major party and is now the Member of Parliament for minor party Centre Alliance, which was founded by previous independent Senator Nick Xenaphon. She also has significant experience working to advocate for the rights of young people.

2:25 Was Will Smith in Independence Day? Turns out, yes.

2:40 Stace raises the point that messages like ‘voting for an independent or minor party is wasting our vote’ somehow ends up in our psyche but where does that come from?

Check out this excellent summary from Chicken Nation of the origins of this narrative and how in the Australian system, you can’t waste your vote. Note: It has pics!


4:24 How many people think ‘I’m just going to vote how my parents vote’?

6:18 Want to read some more articles that argue, yes, voting for an independent or minor party is wasting your vote.

Why voting for an independent is usually a complete waste of time - Amanda Vanstone, Sydney Morning Herald (2018).

Is a vote for an independent or a minor party a wasted vote this election? - Rohan Smith, www.news.com.au (2016)

I mention here that via a quick google search, I found that a lot of these opinion pieces are authored by people that either work, or have previously worked for a major party but of course, we always encourage you to dig deeper and critically engage with all info you consume.

7:05 What is the difference between an independent and a minor party?

8:12 The margins between the two major parties are so small at the moment. This is why you might be hearing a lot of discussion in the media about where the major parties are directing their preferences.

Protest votes: This article in The Conversation (note that the authors work for the organisation that conducted the research) discusses how some research has indicated that votes for a minor party or independent are often a protest vote against the major parties. Can you relate?

9:35 Do independent’s in parliament even have any power to get things done?

15:40 How do you find out who’s running?

18:30 If you live in a safe seat and don’t vote because the party you support isn’t going to be elected, then you’re effectively depriving them of the cash monies they could use to fund future campaigns. How? Y Vote has a quick post on that here.

19:12 How do you figure out who the candidates are in your area?

Tips: How to dig deeper? Y Vote has an article on this coming but in the meantime…

  • When considering who to vote for, look at the recent history of the candidate / party - things they have said in the media or on their own social media platforms, previous actions or votes they have taken in the past (particularly on issues that matter to you) as a tangible indicator of where they stand on issues.

  • Simple Google search of your electorate and the word ‘candidates 2019 federal election’. Not perfect but in lieu of one site that has all this info it’s a good place to begin. Y Vote has an article here that has some 101 info on figuring out what electorate you live in.

  • Look out for community forums with the candidates in your area. Often these are promoted in local newspapers or on community forums. The candidates will be present in the local community in the lead up to the election at events like these - you can also find them at pre-polling booths.

20:33 The minor parties mentioned are (can you guess what they stand for by their name?): Flux, One Asian Party, Rise Up Party, The Bricky Will Fix It (Vote 1 Nathan Herbert).

Rebekha Sharkie mentions:

29:42 The defunding of The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC). You can read more and join the campaign to reinstate funding to AYAC here.

29:58 If you live in Rebekha’s SA electorate of Mayo you can put your views forward to her directly by attending Young Mayo. One outcome from this forum is that Rebekha put forward a motion to ban plastic bags. Check out the offical Hansard recording of this here.

Wrap up:

What’s a safe or marginal seat? Check out the Australian Electoral Commission’s FAQ here.

What is the cross bench? Check out this article from The Conversation about who is on the Senate cross bench following the 2016 election.

What is the back bench? More info on backbenchers and frontbenchers from the Parliamentary Education Office here.