Jul 27, 2012

Mayne: how a rainbow coalition saved ALP in Melbourne

There may have been a record 16 candidates in the Melbourne byelection but only two them bothered to turn up for this morning’s formal declaration of the poll. It told the tale of the tape.

Stephen Mayne — Journalist and Founder

Stephen Mayne

Journalist and Founder

There may have been a record 16 candidates in the Melbourne byelection but only two of them bothered to turn up for yesterday morning’s formal declaration of the poll.

With 13 Victorian Electoral Commission staff looking on and in the absence of anyone else, I was left to give the formal acceptance speech on behalf of the defeated 15. The successful Labor candidate Jennifer Kanis was there with her husband, David, and their much-photographed 10-month-old son, Blake, so it wasn’t the time to let fly with any bitter political barbs. I congratulated Labor on a hard-fought win and said Melbourne City Council would be the lesser for the elevation of Cr Kanis to the state Parliament.

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8 thoughts on “Mayne: how a rainbow coalition saved ALP in Melbourne

  1. wilful

    I hardly find it surprising or wrong that a Liberal aligned candidate, Nolte, would preference the ALP over the Greens. Sounds like a well functioning preferential voting system.

  2. Sam

    So I assume Mr Mayne’s opinion is that in an election seen from the start as between Labor and the Greens, the 20% of the electorate whose first preference was someone else couldn’t care less which of the two major candidates was elected and just blindly went along with the how to vote card of their first preference?

  3. Paula Nambour

    “Stephen Mayne was not paid for this item”

    Does that mean Crikey subscriber’s funds go to paying him normally? It’s a crying shame if young voices about real issues of concern in the community and real news are being denied a chance in order to accommodate Mayne’s mile-wide mean-streak.

    I once used to like his work but it’s hard to love the predictable rantings about his local council, his latest election loss and whatever vendetta is currently inflamed.

    Breaking down the preference flow in a state by-election and suggesting incorrectly that candidates “deliver” votes to other candidates (voters number every square, not candidates, and even Mayne’s review of the numbers shows that’s what happened, with very few blindly following how to votes cards) is probably the most boring thing I’ve ever read here.

    Crikey has moved on from Stephen Mayne and doesn’t need this bile. Please stop giving him preferences.

  4. Russell

    Yet another “we was robbed” sob. story, again in Crikey… There have been quite a few.

    In Balmain in 2011. a similar win by preferences occurred. In that case, the Liberals won the primary vote, but the third placed candidate was able to leap frog the other two based on the complicated preference flow of the other candidates (In NSW’s optional system, most don’t allocate preferences, although some of the minor candidates were “stand-ins” and did issue directives)

    When the result was declared, there were no agonised recriminations, no accusations of skullduggery. Crikey (and everyone else) either ignored it or wrote “historic win!” stories. Even the candidate who won the most first votes retained a dignified silence.

    But in that case, a Greens MP was elected.

  5. Ian Mack

    One wonders what a bit of a chat with Ms Patten & Dr Ahmed would have done to the outcome, had the Greens secured their preferenes above the the ALP? Ms Patten certainly stated that the Greens didn’t phone her to discuss preferences, did they call the good Doctor?

  6. JamesJohnsonCHR

    Thank you for another fine blog Stephen. I think the key sentence is your opening line “.. a record 16 candidates .. only two bothered turning up ..” *Sigh* I guess we don’t get the democracy we don’t deserve.

    Good on you for giving it a go. And good on you for turning up at the formal declaration.

    A very interesting analysis of the preference redistributions too. I can’t help but think that when the outcome comes down to preference trading, the next trend will be for the main candidates to buddy up (I hesitate to say set up) a candidate or three specifically as ‘wide receivers’ of those magical late / last preference votes.

    While the direction of preferences was probably as easily foreseen before as after the event, I wonder whether S-x, Mr Nolte, Mr Fenn, Mr Ahmed – or Mr Mayne – would be more thoughtful with where they directed preferences if they could have their time again (which you can of course, in 3 years time). Life is a never ending learning curve.

    I can’t help but think that a simpler system is less susceptible to corruption wouuld be better. What’s so terribly wrong with one vote, one value, counted once – first past the post? After all MPs don’t run the government. They just oversee the professional bureaucrats who do. And I think the case can be made that preferencing votes (ie giving them a chance to count twice, three or even 15 times in a case of 16 candidates) is another anti-democratic spin on democracy.

    If I can add a comment of my own, it seems that we live in an age where Rule Brittania’s ‘Westminster Government’ has morphed into an even less democratic ‘Yes Minister Government.’ MPs notoriously do as their party heads and bureaucrat chiefs direct them rather than as their constituents wish to be represented.

    So I suggest that the real voting strategy should be to always vote the sitting Members last. This would over time see the end of careerism, cronyism, corruption and (eventually) a demise in political parties too. Given we have professional / career bureaucrats, we need parliamentarians who are independent trustees watching over the benches of professional career bureaucrats. Independence from the bureaucrats and representativeness of the people are the virtues that we should look for in parliamentarians. If (as Senior MPs do) they identify with their bureaucrats more than they do their constituents then surely that’s the opposite of democracy?

    Curiously it only needed one MP (Mr Nolte) to “put the sitting MP (‘s party) last” in his preferencing scheme, and then the tangled web of the preference system would have produced the same outcome as the first past the post -without the extra processing, without the extra room for manipulation. Maybe next time?

  7. AR

    As PaulaN noted above, very few blindly followed HTV slips (even a quarter of FF’s voters went Green rather than Labor), including Mayne’s cohort, which is as it should be assuming semi sentient electorate.
    I do wonder though why the lack of compact between S-x & Greens given their similar stance on so many issues.

  8. Gavin Moodie

    I found this piece informative. It wasn’t ‘We wuz robbed’ but complaining that ‘History is written by the victors’.

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