These recommendations will work best for progressive voters like me. To check if you fit that category feel free to take my Political Objectives Test. Clumps may still be useful for those getting ideological liberal, moderate, socialist or radical results but we all think differently so I expect anyone considering my advice will also modify it.
Two things are different this election. One is that we are facing a full Senate election. The other is that we have a new Senate voting method and ballot paper. Now you need to number six-or-more groups above the line or twelve-or-more candidates below the line. I'm presenting clumps in order of approximate palatability. Read from the top and as soon as you have identified six groups to your liking you can stop reading. Or if you are fascinated by the wonderful political diversity of our polity then read to the very end.
I have included the letter designations (A to AL) for each group taken from the Senate white ballot paper. If you want to examine these groups more closely yourself then you can access party websites via the ABC. And if you have any questions do ask.
PROGRESSIVE: Science Party (E), Arts Party (Q), Australian Progressives (AJ), Greens (AK), Eric Vadarlis (UnGrouped)
There are a few groups I consider progressive in this election and I present them in this top clump.
Both the Science Party and the Arts Party have well-developed platforms that bring the perspectives of their two professions to many different issues.
The Australian Progressives seem well-named and remind me of a party I once knew all-to-well.
And the Greens are the most professional and energetic advocates of progressive policy and the closest thing we have to a third major party in Australia.
SMALL 'L' LIBERALS: Pirate Party (J), Secular Party (T), Marriage Equality (X), Drug Law Reform (AC), Voluntary Euthanasia Party (AD), Sex Party (AL)
I put these together in this clump because in one way or another they emphasize personal autonomy and civil liberty. They are culturally permissive. Economics is mixed (if tending to free-market).
The Pirate Party are populated by Internet geeks and present policy in the form of a wiki! They are particularly interested in online freedoms and privacy issues.
I suspect many Secular Party members forget that a secular society is one that accommodates all religions rather than one that lacks them. However they seem to provide a useful counterpoint in an electoral contest that includes many more fundamentalist religious parties.
Marriage Equality is a party for the much-needed promotion of civil rights for queer Australians and has named itself for what is currently the most prominent issue relevant to the movement.
Drug Law Reform and Voluntary Euthanasia Party have names that pretty much tell you what matter to them and both push in the direction of personal autonomy.
I once felt that the Sex Party were too much an extension of the sex industry but they have gotten a better reputation since getting a member elected to the Victorian Parliament. Now they hope to do the same thing Federally.
CENTRIST: Group (B), Labor (D), Nick Xenophon Team (V), Meredith Urie (UnGrouped)
It seems that Group B involves members of the latter-day Australian Democrats whose party lacks registration in Victoria. Mine was once a progressive party whose very moderate methodology attracted non-progressive voters. In contrast the current group seem to honestly think they can be centrist in an electorate that includes Labor.
Labor are the party of the mixed economy and political compromise and wanting to be progressive but getting scared of conservative lobby groups. As populists they let opportunism dictate many political decisions for the sake of winning or keeping power. However I also consider them the natural party of government.
The Nick Xenophon Team has the purpose of getting some mates elected to keep Senator Xenophon (SA) company. Since his election Xenophon has grown to be much more than a gambling harm-minimization campaigner and self-identifies as centrist.
NON-GREENS ENVIRONMENTAL: Animal Justice Party (C), Sustainable Australia (I), Renewable Energy Party (M)
You may wonder why these groups exist if we have the Greens. In some cases it is that they are so dedicated to particular environmental causes that they trust nobody but themselves. In other cases it is that they may have positions at variance with the Greens on non-environmental issues.
Animal Justice Party radically focuses on animal liberation and veganism.
Sustainable Australia seem to think that population is the issue that defines environmental problems (rather than the consumption patterns of persons and industry).
The Renewable Energy Party is the latest micro-party project of life-long political hack Peter Breen.
ISSUE OR PERSONALITY FOCUSED: Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (A), Jacqui Lambie Network (G), Health Australia Party (L), Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (W), Mature Australia (AE), John Karagiannidis (UnGrouped), Allan Mull (UnGrouped)
This is an interesting mixed clump of parties that either focus on a particular issue or promote the election of a particular public figure (or in some cases both). Often they have a moderate-seeming leader who nonetheless attracts a rather conservative support-base. Take a critical look before voting for them.
Normally one expects ‘law and order’ candidates to be conservative but Derryn Hinch is a media figure who resists such classification. Possibly one could argue that this is a party for moderates because ‘the pendulum has swung too far’ on issues of criminal justice and sentencing. You be the judge (so to speak).
Senator Jacqui Lambie (Tas) is a maverick former associate of Clive Palmer with a focus on defence and veterans issues. Whether I agree with her depends very much on the topic but I continue to be wary despite her new-found independence.
Health Australia Party have a focus on – well - health issues and on the surface look fine. But if you take a closer look at both wording and candidate bios you discover a connection with alternative medicine and New Age doctrines.
The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party accidentally elected Senator Ricky Muir (Vic) last time and many have been surprised by his humanity and refreshed by his candour. Take a look however at his voting record and the policy of his party and you will find a more mixed story.
Mature Australia is a party representing older Australians and focusing on issues of aging. Many of them are worthwhile but every so often there is a hint of traditional or ‘old-fashioned’ thinking that marks this as a potentially conservative group.
APATHETIC: VoteFlux (N)
This party has a gimmick rather than an ideology. They have an app rather than any kind of policy platform. If they have opinions nobody will ever know because they will do whatever they are told by whatever group of voters can be bothered getting online and directing them. I think this is stupid.
MARXISTS: Socialist Equality Party (K), Socialist Alliance (Z)
Both these groups are Marxist. The former is a distinct party while the latter is a network of separate organizations. On an issue-by-issue basis progressive voters may well agree with them on many things but personally I have a problem with anyone whose ideology includes talk of violent revolution.
COALITION AND SUBSTITUTES: Palmer United Party (F), Australian Country Party (AA), Liberals / Nationals (AF), Karthik Arasu (UnGrouped)
This clump is for our neo-conservative Liberal & National Coalition but also for parties that would otherwise be them but have some sort of problem with those major parties. It may be personal differences with key figures. It may be party culture or structures. It may be a sense that the Coalition are neglecting some deserving interest they are supposed to support.
Clive Palmer (Qld) made a big splash last time but his small group of parliamentarians soon started having internal problems and I would be surprised if we see them do well this time. The political vanity projects of entrepreneurs tend to come and go.
The Australian Country Party resulted from a merger of Country Alliance with the Victorian chapter of Katter Australia Party. They tend to be former Nationals who feel that the Coalition neglects rural interests and will thus be less into neo-liberal economics and more into morally conservative values.
UNCLUMPED: Dana Spasojevic, Geoff Lutz, Chris Ryan, Mark Francis Dickenson, Glenn Floyd, Christopher Beslis
The problem with independents is that it is difficult to find information on many of them and they can represent any kind of politics (including ones you never imagined existed). As such it is important to err on the side of caution and put them low unless you have information on specific candidates. I have added some independents to other clumps with the designation '(UnGrouped)' if information warranted it. The rest I have listed here (see above). If you have information on any of these that contradicts how I have clumped them then do alert me.
COMMUNITARIAN: Democratic Labour Party (R), Manufacturing And Farming Party (AB), Stephen Juhasz (UnGrouped), Immanuel Shmuel (UnGrouped)
Imagine a community that both takes care of you via welfare and industry protection and polices your personal behaviour ‘for your own good’. This is how I define a clump that laments both the trends of free markets and a permissive society.
The Roman Catholic DLP epitomize this and it is an unusual political tradition with a long history. I have made this separate from the mostly Protestant religious clump and the DLP are far more into interventionist economics.
The Manufacturing And Farming Party has been formed to get Senator John Madigan (Vic) re-elected. Madigan was originally elected as a DLP candidate but then left the party due to nothing more than office politics. As such Madigan still represents the same ‘traditional working family’ he always has.
LIBERTARIAN: Liberal Democrats (AH)
The Liberal Democrats of Senator David Leyonhjelm (NSW) have an ideology wishing to minimize government involvement in all aspects of life except legal defence of person and property. So in economics it is sink or swim for both persons and corporations (we just happen to know that corporations are better swimmers than workers or consumers). And in personal life it is literally your decision and therefore your problem whatever the consequences. The tone is different from what a lot of us feel. Rather than ‘celebrate difference’ it is more ‘do whatever see if I care’.
REACTIONARY RECREATION: Australian Liberty Alliance (U), Shooters Fishers Farmers (AG), Dennis Hall (UnGrouped), Trevor William Nye (UnGrouped)
I call them this because they may well never have gotten political if particular laws did not interfere in how they like to live. Government regulations protecting Australians and the natural environment piss them off. Are necessarily anti-environmentalist and generally conservative.
Australian Liberty Alliance use a lot of libertarian talk but they are more like angry nationalists once you look at the sentiments underpinning what they say.
Shooters Fishers Farmers advocate for rural interests and values and in particular the freedom to hunt and fish all over Australia.
RELIGIOUS ULTRA-CONSERVATIVES: Australian Christians (H), Family First (O), Christian Democratic Party (P), Rise Up Australia (AI), Peter John Hawks (UpGrouped)
For this lot everything is dictated by what they want to think God says. A wonderful excuse for prejudice towards anyone who is different from them in terms of sexuality or family values or religion. They tend to be accepting of different backgrounds and can look multicultural. But they want a society in which we have a homogeneous culture defined by fundamentalist Christianity. Tend to be pro-business and anti-environmentalist.
SECULAR BUT SCARY: Citizens Electoral Council (S), One Nation (Y)
There is plenty of prejudice here. Take a look for yourself if you dare. Both parties combine restrictive cultural values with interventionist economics. Both are anti-environmentalist. In other ways however they are very different.
The CEC is an insular cult-like group with international connections to the LaRouche Movement. They think some of the strangest things. They talk of the value of Abrahamic religions but only as a small part of their wider vision of a virtuous civilization. They deride rock-and-roll and for that alone I oppose them.
One Nation is the nationalist party of Pauline Hanson and while non-religious is still as divisive as anything from the religious fanatic clump. We keep on rejecting them but they just keep on coming back.