Lazy Luddite Log

17.7.06

Change of Electorates

One of the things I have to do as a result of moving is inform both the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) of my change of address. This I can do with one form that I collected from a Post Office. Once I am re-enrolled these will be my electorates:

- Victoria (Federal Senate)
- Chisholm (Federal House of Representatives)
- South Eastern (Victorian Legislative Council)
- Clayton (Victorian Legislative Assembly)

Chisholm is a more marginal electorate than my old one of Bruce which makes my vote just that bit more worthwhile at the next Federal Election. However I get to stay in the same Australian Democrats (ADs) branch of 'Bruce-Chisholm' (as a minor party we have always had branches covering one or more electorates rather than the separate suburb branches of the major parties - the branch name sounds like a personal name and once while I was Branch Convenor I received correspondence addressed to a "Mr B Chisholm").

Of more interest at present is the coming Victorian State Election which is only four months away. It will be an interesting election because of a number of changes to the way the election is conducted and the Parliament that it will elect. To start with it is the inagural election of fixed date state elections which from here on will always be held exactly four years apart for both upper (Legislative Council) and lower (Legislative Assembly) houses. The other key change is the way in which the Legislative Council will be elected.

Till now both chambers were elected by pretty much the same method of one member per electorate per election. To get elected one had to get 50%+1 of the vote (including distribution of preferences) in any given electorate. Now however for the Legislative Council the state has been divided into eight massive electorates which will elect five members each. The electoral method will be quota proportional. To get elected in one of these five-member electorates one needs to get approximately 16% of the vote (including distribution of excess votes from more successful candidates and distribution of preferences from less successful candidates). Getting that many votes across an area the size of the entire south-eastern suburbs of metropolitan Melbourne is a big ask but it will make for a different Legislative Council in two ways:

- It will be much less likely over time for one major party to have a majority (rather the numbers of the two major parties will be much closer assuming similar voting support)

- It will be somewhat more likely to have some minor party representation (I stress 'somewhat' as I think it will still be a major party dominated chamber but there is a chance of having a handful of 'cross-benchers')

On a personal note...

Once I am re-enrolled I will be all set as a voter. But what if I want to do more as a citizen? At an absolute minimum I will stand at a polling place all day if necessary (like any self-resepecting ADs hack) but I have to decide if I want to do more. In the past I have been a Polling Booth Coordinator and Campaign Manager and can still do it as well as any party member. But I must admit to having developed an accute case of 'activist fatigue'. It will become a case of how important do I think this election is versus how much I value my own shy-and-retiring way-of-life.

Despite dismal polling in recent times the ADs will still be having some role in the state election and I agree with that. For starters we had a hand in the consultative process which developed this new Legislative Council so it seems only right we participate in its inagural election. Whether I want to bust a gut for it is another matter. Seems to me that I have put in a lifetime of civic work to date and that I now deserve to sit back and observe for a while. There are always plenty of others to compensate for my absense (within the wider political process rather than in my party specifically). We shall see (since writing this I did indeed stand as is discussed here and here).

For info on the coming state election visit the VEC website.

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2 Comments:

  • You seem to be seeking a balance between feeling like a piker for not going all out in campaign support, and staving off jaded cynicism borne of your 'activist fatigue'. Only you can know if you can muster the energy and enthusiasm to 'do more'. I wish you well in working that out.

    I think that intensity of political participation is tidal. If you watch and wait, you may become frustrated with what you see, and decide to get back out there (hopefully having re-charged your batteries to some extent). Or the tide may come back in for the AD's and make participation less of a strain.

    Legislative Council election changes are indeed interesting. More representative representation rather than a winner takes all approach seems like it should be a good thing. Ironic that the Legislative Council changes are just coming to fruition at a time when the AD's are polling poorly. 16% is far more attainable.

    For my electoral participation, I need to register to work at the local elections as a polling official. The insight into the process is interesting, even if the work is monotonous. The money is always handy, too.

    By Blogger Jac, At 22 July, 2006  

  • I am content with my current level of involvement. I have done a lot in the past and can sometimes have sentimental recollections of all the fun times and the sense of purpose we had. But I am mindful that I have done a lot and am enjoying a needed rest. I still feel loyalty but presently lack the drive I once had.

    I think the change in me may have happened whatever the standing of the party. Even at the best of times we have been a stretched organisation and so I think even if things were still well for us I may still have become fatigued.

    I am sure I will get more involved in future in civic life even if it is in exploring the notion of what one citizen can do free of the energy-sapping relationships of a party (put it this way - within the context of an office-holder in a party others may say "that person has power" but I say "that person has a whole lot of work and stress").

    The timing of the new Legislative Council is ironic for us. We have been pushing for it for a very long time but it only happens once we are in the most dismal electoral condition. 16% is still a big ask and for any minor party and will necessitate a lot of work and some amazing preference flows. Nonetheless politics can still hold surprises for those who think they can predict election outcomes.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 31 July, 2006  

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