I was the unsuccessful Victorian Green Senate candidate who with a
primary vote of 8.8% outpolled Family First by about five to one but
lost on ALP and Democrat preferences. I have read the exchanges on the
Senate election between Christian Kerr and Ben Oquist with much
interest but less joy. Stoushes may be interesting but the consequences
of an unchecked conservative coalition with complete control of the
Parliament matter more.

Well before the election, Family First repeatedly stated its intention
to preference the Greens last, so presumably the ALP didn’t need to do
anything to receive Family First preferences ahead of the Greens.
Therefore, Labor made a decision to preference Family First ahead of
the Greens when it didn’t need to do so. The Democrats also preferenced
Family First ahead of the Greens, though its smaller vote was less
critical.

Labor’s decision to put Family First ahead of the Greens, delivered
200,000+ votes to Family First, guaranteeing election of their only
Senator on a primary vote of less than 60,000 or 1.9%. With it, the ALP
gave the Government a very useful one vote buffer to create a
conservative coalition in the Senate. The election is long over now,
but I haven’t met too many Victorian ALP and Democrat voters who are
pleased their parties helped them elect Family First.

It is empty rhetoric for Labor to handball political power to a
conservative coalition and then to carry on about industrial relations,
the full privatisation of Telstra, the emaciation of the Committee
system or the dumping of any other meaningful progressive economic,
social or environmental policies into the conservatives’ high
temperature incinerator.

The ALP can swear on a stack of Bibles that they didn’t want or expect
this to happen, but I think they are more capable than that. They knew
what they were doing; they took a risk they didn’t need to take and in
doing so elected Labor’s first Family First Senator.

So be it.

Peter Fray

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