Dear Crikey,

Christian Kerr is really making himself look silly with his incessant anti-Greens hysteria.

Christian is well aware that proportional representation is the fairest type of electoral system. (No Ben, it's not if you get elected with a hundred or so votes like the Outdoor recreation party did in NSW upper house.) To support anything else is to oppose democracy. (No, Ben check your dictionary again. Have a look at Dictionary.com: 1. Democracy Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. 2. A political or social unit that has such a government. 3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power. 4. Majority rule. 5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community. Does anyone see proportional representation mentioned here?)

From Iraq (gee there's a model I'd like to follow, not) to Europe (I presume he means the EU? If so, gee there's a model I'd like to follow, not) to New Zealand (a unicameral legislature? Senators and members in the one chamber? Gee there's a model I'd like to follow, not) it is the norm (Hint for minority party politician Ben, just because the majority do something it doesn't make it right) . It's based on the radical principle of one vote one value (but that's not all Ben.. So is first past the post, and preferential voting apportionment is independent of electoral method. If Ben was really keen to see one vote one value Tasmania would be allocated Senators proportional to its population and Bob Brown would be out of a job). If a party gets 6% of the vote it gets 6% of the seats, if it gets 60% of the vote it gets 60% of the seats (But they are completely representative of no-one as they hold no electorates).

It is undeniable that political parties in Australia, as in Britain and the US, continue to be elected to government with far less than 50% of the vote (This is deniable under the preferential system, which is why we have it) . Proportional representation would correct this ( No Ben, it wouldn't. Remember, 51% of the vote equals 51% of the seats. What it would do is make governments of mainstream parties reliant on radical extremists like the Greens or League of Rights to form Government – in other words a Labor government with 46% of the vote relying on green support will still govern with 46% of the vote.) and help bust up the political duopoly (Yeah, so we can be like Italy and have a different government every year – good one comrade) . It's competition reform for politics (No Ben, it's unrepresentative politics so lazy politicians are answerable to everybody and no-one. In fact the effect would be to virtually take power from local constituencies and place them in the hands of party bosses) .

Christian chose to quote my letter out of context. I was responding to a claim that the Howard government secured control of the House of Representatives and the Senate after receiving a majority of the votes. This simply isn't so (It simply is so – we have a preferential voting system) .

Let's get the facts on the Senate result straight once more.

There were 40 Senate seats decided at the 2004 election. The Greens secured 5% of the seats (two spots) on 7.67% of the national vote. The ALP won 40% of the seats on 35.02% of the national vote. The Coalition won 52.5% of the Senate seats yet received only 45.09% of the national vote. Family First won 2.5% of the seats (1 spot) on 1.76% of the national vote. So the Greens came off worst – mostly because of Labor's decision (See, Ben admits his party depends on preferences for a leg up, then proceeds to argue against them. Bizarro!) against the wishes of most of its voters (evidence please?) , to preference the Christian fundamentalists. (Wrong Ben, they put you ahead of family first in most states and territories let's look at the facts:
SA – 5 spots elected outright none of them green, 6th spot Labor won against family first on green preferences
ACT – 2 senators elected outright none of them green
NT – 2 senators elected outright none of them green
VIC – 5 senators elected outright, none of them green, 6th Family first won against greens on ALP preferences – this is the one Ben's whingeing about
NSW – 5 senators elected outright, none of them green, 6th spot ALP won against Christian Democrats with green preferences
WA – 5 senators elected outright, none of them green, 6th spot won by greens against liberals and Christian Democrats with ALP preferences
TAS – 5 senators elected outright, none of them green, 6th spot won by greens against Family First and ALP on Labor rat Shayne Murphy preferences
QLD – 4 senators elected outright, none of them green, 5th spot won by Barnaby Joyce on One Nation, Fishing Party, Democrats and family First preferences, as was the 6th spot won by the Liberals
So, in four states, Labor and Greens preferences each other first, in Vic and Tasmania they didn't, and in the territories the greens make no difference. In three out of four states where they cooperated the preference flow was crucial, but in Queensland even though Labor referenced the Greens both of their primary votes were so low the greens still couldn't win.
Let's run those figures again for Ben - Labor preferenced the greens in a majority of states. Outside of those states it owes the greens nothing. I think Ben's feeling hurt because the Greens were taken for a ride. Note to Ben - the greens may be able to stand up and bluster without recourse to research, but it's hard to do preference swaps the same way.)


My letter to The Australian contained full disclosure that I am Bob Brown's adviser. The Australian chose not to print those details. A fact that could have been checked with me with one simple call. But why let the facts get in the way of a good Green's bash, eh Christian? (Ben you are a stranger to facts, so don't you start talking...)

Ben Oquist