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To be or not to be democratic



Jeremy Sear is yet again being intellectually dishonest when he pretends that proportional representation in the House of Representatives is democratic


Lefty blogger Jeremy Sear reckons it would be completely undemocratic and unfair for the Greens not to have a single seat in the House of Reps. Commenting on Michael Danby’s plans for Labor to preference the Liberals ahead of the Greens, Jeremy has this to say:

Say he succeeds – what would that say about our democracy? More than ten percent of the population completely unrepresented in the house of government?

That this is even a realistic threat highlights how desperately in need of reform the system is.


In an earlier post, Jeremy similarly wrote in favour of “proportional representation” that:

We do need a more representative parliament – one where different perspectives in the community are represented in accordance with their support.


So according to Jeremy, it is more democratic if in some electorates most people vote against the Greens but still end up with a Green as their local member.

It is apparently also more democratic if instead of a majority of voters deciding which political party and policies they would prefer, the (proportionally) elected representatives get to do deals with each other that determine which policies get implemented and which don’t, regardless of what most people voted for.

And naturally, in such a situation no elected representatives can be held accountable for broken promises because in order to get some parts of their agenda through, they have had to compromise with members of other parties and allow parts of their agenda to be passed into law. Which leads to minor parties being able to implement parts of their agenda, even though the vast majority of Australians have voted against it.

Which brings us to the current minority government debacle in Canberra, where the Greens, who received little over 10% of the vote, have made the government decide to introduce a carbon tax, which the vast majority of people are against. Almost 90% of the Australian people last year voted for a party opposed to a carbon tax, but we are still getting one thanks to the small minority who vote Green. Furthermore, the polls indicate that federal Labor is extremely unpopular, that being in large part due to the carbon tax that Labor promised we wouldn’t have. And by the looks of things, the people of Australia won’t have another opportunity to vote on the carbon tax until 2013.

The current situation of course will become far more common if Jeremy and his self-interested Green ilk ever succeed in having proportional representation. Anyone who think that’s democratic is guilty of the very intellectual dishonesty that Jeremy likes to accuse others of.



  1. Richard Ryan says:

    Jeremy Sear ! Is this the one who gives Andrew Bolt nightmares?

  2. Leon Bertrand says:

    I wouldn’t say he gives Bolt nightmares, but he has frequently tried to pwn Bolt.

  3. gigdiary says:

    It’s the other way round, Richard!

  4. Iain Hall says:

    I have for some time thought that the major parties would eventually realise that it is in their own interests to put the Greens last in every election HTV card, For the ALP it will mean that they will stop pretending that the Greens are in any way on the same page politically as they are, For the coalition its a no brainer to preference them last.

  5. Sax says:

    Hang on Ian.
    For you to want the greens last on our htv cards, implies that they have done something pretty bad ?
    Hell, they have been there a year, and haven’t done a bloody thing yet ? Bit early for that isn’t it sic ?

  6. Richard Ryan says:

    HOW could any blogger pwn the King of Trolls Andrew Bolt——when he has his moderators to do his bidding.

  7. Lin M. Hall says:

    Back to the subject: Iain, I don’t think that you understand what proportional representation means. A simple definition from Wikipedia, see Proportional Representation there, is–As it is used in practice in politics, the only proportionality being respected is a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates obtain in elections in representative democracy, and the percentage of seats they receive and you can take a trip over the pond to New Zealand to see one way of achieving that.

  8. Leon Bertrand says:


    I am the author.

    Your definition there is correect. So if the 2010 election results were repeated, the Greens would get about 12% of the seats, Labor about 35%, Liberals around 30%, Nationals10-15% etc.

    The result would be just as I have described – that minor partties recieving only small percentages of the overall vote would be able to push their agendas by doing deals with minority governments, even though most voters are opposed to their agendas.

    The carbon tax is an excellent example of the kind of unpopular policy that gets forced on the majority of people by a minority.

  9. gigdiary says:

    I thought that Jezza’s earlier post that you linked to was quite validly explained, until I read this…

    Proportional representation, or a milder form of it like multi-member electorates

    Multi-member electorates? What a can of worms that would be. Jeremy’s grasping at straws. The electorate seems reasonably relaxed about having the Greens in the Senate, but surprisingly reticient to trust them with a seat in the House of Reps. Bandt’s only there due to Lib prefs, and they’ve obviously learnt their lesson. Now it seems Labor is following suit.

    No wonder Jezza wants to change the constitution.

  10. Leon Bertrand says:

    It seems the last thing Jeremy wants is for the majority of people to prevail on an issue where he disagrees with them.

  11. Sax says:

    The carbon tax is an excellent example of the kind of unpopular policy that gets forced on the majority of people by a minority.

    Why is the reason as to the unpopularity of the policy though Leon ?
    Could it be, that everybody with half a brain, knows that it is only a cash grabbing con ?

  12. Sax says:

    The yanks have the right idea.
    First past the post.
    Would kill all the backroom preference deals cold.
    Then just maybe, we might get the government we all voted for ?

  13. Leon Bertrand says:

    I like the prefrencing system because it gives voters more choice by allowing them to vote for a party but then have their vote diverted to assist another party once their first party gets knocked out.

    I do however agree that voting for the Senate should be made simpler. Because you have to number every single box if you want to vote below the line, everyone just votes above the line. As a result, it’s the party you voted for who get to determine your preferences, you don’t.

  14. Ray Dixon says:

    PR voting was instigated for the Senate to ensure that the smaller States had the same number of Senators as the larger ones. Its purpose was NOT for smaller parties to hold the balance of power but that’s how it’s evolved. And that’s exactly why it would not work in the lower house. If we had a PR system in the lower house it would destabilise the most stable democracy in the world.

  15. Sax says:

    So you think that electoral seats that contain only 100k in population, should have the same say as those that have a million ?
    Yep, seems like a fair system to me.

  16. Ray Dixon says:

    I’m talking about the House of Reps. That’s the issue here. What House of Reps seat has a million people in it?

  17. Sax says:

    As usual you pick on the exageration rather than the truth of the argument.
    Remember, I said population, not just voter population ?
    So, you are saying that it is perfectly acceptable, for say Darwin, with a population of about 124k, should have the same say as that of Melbourne’s 4 mil ? Certainly, Melbourne is split up into numerous electoral enclaves, but that seems like a pretty fair system to me (sic).
    Also, you haven’t even brought up the matter of both parties, gerrymandering the bounderies to rig the results ?
    Yep, proportional representation, real fair system that one ?

    Have a read over what you just said, and have another go, keeping in mind the meaning of the terms proportional representation ? and gerrymander ?
    Take your time, will be away for a while, a cold front is coming through with howling winds, and I have to go out with the lads and lock off the windmill gennies.

  18. Sax says:

    BTW, a bit of history for you.
    Labor, upon getting in after the 72 election, gerrymandered the boundries.
    Didn’t do them any good in 75 did it ?
    The system is open to massive abuse, with the dealing that goes on in back rooms for preferences.
    That’s the problem with it.

  19. damage says:

    PR is in both upper and lower houses isn’t it?

  20. Sax says:

    Yep, I think so, but the upper house goes further, and allocates seats by quotas rather than direct votes I think ? But I am certain Peter Perfect will come up and correct me if I’m wrong ? 😉

  21. Ray Dixon says:

    I’m against PR as a voting method for a number of reasons including the one you sort of refer to – in your usual muddled up way, Sax. But we only have PR in the Senate, despite what the Mensa members are saying here. The House of Reps (which is what this issue is about) doesn’t have it. I support the current preferential voting system in the lower house – the place that really matters. The differences in electorate numbers in the lower house are not so great as to distort the result and are subject to constant independent review and adjustment by the Australian Electoral Commission.

  22. Sax says:

    So you support the notion, that the guy that finished third or perhaps lower, after first prefs are distributed, can, and often does win after those preferences are allocated ?
    Hardly seems fair.
    What if you were the one who finished first after those first preferences ? You would be full entitled to feel pretty cheated out ?
    I know I would be

  23. Ray Dixon says:

    It’s not perfect, Sax. But first past the post is not perfect either. Both are better than PR though.

  24. Sax says:

    Still think that the guy who finishes last on a ballot, that can actually hold sway as to who ultimately wins a seat is a pretty unfair system. But that’s preferential voting.
    The Senate with proportional representation is probably hardly better. All systems, whether the above two, even including first past the post, are open to corruption
    Sort of puts pay to the adage of ‘one man, one vote’ doesn’t it .

  25. Ray Dixon says:

    Sax, under preferential voting, the guy who finishes “last” on first preferences is eliminated and his preferences are then distributed (if the guy finishing first doesn’t have a majority of 50% plus one vote). I think you mean the guy who finishes third can actually overtake 1 & 2 if those below him give him their preferences. Like what happened with Wilkie. Yes, it’s not perfect but a lot better than PR which can see someone elected with as little as 1% of the primary vote.

  26. Sax says:

    You’re missing the point Ray.

  27. Ray Dixon says:

    Anytime you want to explain the point I’m “missing”, go right ahead.

  28. Sax says:

    Pretty simple really. The guy you give your third (or deeper) preference too, may not be the person that gets that preference. Same with the senate. The party you vote for, especially Greens etc may not get your preference. As you said yourself, the allocation of preferences goes right up, until only one remains.
    And ffs, stop being so fu**ing abrasive and aggressive. It’s getting tiresome.

  29. Ray Dixon says:

    Sax, I hope this isn’t too “abrasive & aggressive” for you but your explanation makes no sense.

  30. Ray Dixon says:

    Anyway Sax, let’s wind this back to what I said earlier: I don’t support PR voting. It seems we agree on that but you fancy first past the post as opposed to preferential. But as I said earlier, they’re both imperfect. No point arguing the toss over that.

  31. Sax says:

    I fancy any system, that means that if I vote for Joe Blow, then Joe Blow gets the vote, not some other turkey down the track ? After all, if that is not the case, fines notwithstanding, why even bother voting in the first place ?
    Can’t see the logic myself ?

  32. Iain Hall says:

    Oh course up here in Queensland we have the perfect system (at the state level)and that is for optional preferential voting. Originally meant to do in the Liberals at which it was used by Peter Beattie in his “just vote1” campaign it now means that minors like the loopy Greens have to actaully earn preference votes rather than just expect them to come from the way that HTV cards are printed.
    The other thing that strikes me about our learned friend’s argument is that I am rather sure that he did not object to One nation being destroyed by a coordinated effort from the Coalition and Labor putting them last on every ballot he is in an absolute tizzy because they are beginning to realise that the Greens deserve the same treatment..

  33. Sax says:

    That’s why nothing ever gets done don’t you think ?
    One Nation was a perceived threat, nothing more. But, it was enough of a perceived threat, that caused the two major parties to go into panic mode, when they thought that it had a chance of eroding its voter base. Just goes to show how nasty the business can be.

    The funny thing is though. We are all becoming more environmentally aware these days. As such, you would think the Greens, under this new awareness of the masses, would be building their support base. But they aren’t are they ? The reasons ? Pretty simple. Their past history and present behaviour. Ratbags trying to take over the agenda, and a general failure in everything they have tried to achieve, has meant that the electorate at large don’t trust them. Especially now. As I mentioned, the partnership with labor has achieved what ? Bloody nothing for the environment. The last thing the Greens can point to, they can hang their hats on, (and I am pushing to remember it ?), would have to be the Franklin wouldn’t it ?

    No wonder they are still quite literally, in the wilderness ?

  34. […] Jeremy is also an anti-democratic supporter of proportional representation, and also threatened me with defamation for daring to criticise him. So like his beloved Greens […]

  35. […] blog has previously discussed how the Green’s support for “proportional representation” is […]

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