Austrlia’s Corrupt Political System

to Mr. Adam Bandt, MP for Melbourne

Thank-you for your great work as the Greens MP for Melbourne.  You must be happy to have achieved such a great victory for the Greens, by getting elected to the so-called “house of representatives”.

I want to complain about the electoral system, and I’m going to use some strong language, which is in no way directed to your good self.

If 40% of all people in each electorate vote Labour, and 51% vote Liberal/National, for the “house of representatives”, then Liberal/National would win 100% of the seats, and no one else would win any seats.

This is FUCKING CORRUPT, if I may get angry. Is it “REPRESENTATIVE” that minority parties such as the Greens are almost totally unrepresented, due to a moronic system of election?

As you know, this is a big problem not just in theory – the Greens won 11.76% of vote in the 2010 elections, which should entitle them to 18 seats out of 150 in the ‘lower house’, but they have only one seat which is yours.  I’m proud to live in Melbourne where the Greens appear to be the majority party, but where the hell are our other 17 seats?

Can we do something about this?  I suppose a referendum would be needed, but with a decent public exposee, it could hardly fail.

It would even be better to forget about the electorates entirely, and say Greens won 13% = 20 seats, Labour won 50 seats, liberal won 50 seats, now please figure out amicably which of the seats you would prefer to have, guided by which seats had the highest number of votes for each party.

I am going to contact several online petition orgs to raise this issue, it really makes me furious.

Any mathematician would laugh or cry at the stupidity of the electoral system for our house of representatives.  I’m ignorant, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most other countries have equally idiotic systems for electing their government leaders.

Thank your sir for reading my rant.  I will also send it to your email for your convenience, if you wish to respond by email!

Sam Watkins
Melbourne Australia.

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12 Responses to Austrlia’s Corrupt Political System

  1. brendanscott says:

    I think you’re confusing the upper and lower houses. In the upper house representatives are supposed to represent the community as a whole. In the lower house they are supposed to represent their electorates (part of the reason to have a bicameral system). It follows that in the lower house the seat should go to the person with the most votes in that electorate (unless there are multiple representatives for an electorate I suppose…). How else could you do it, other than by installing a representative who wasn’t actually representative of their electorate?

    • This is true, but there’s a good argument that if someone wants to represent the electorate specifically, rather that the entire community as a whole then perhaps they should be running for council instead.

  2. sswam says:

    In many electorates people vote in much the same split, maybe 35% like Labour, 30% Liberal/National, 20% Green and 20% Various Other. Unless the Greens can actually get more votes than Liberal or Labour, which is very difficult, they will get no seats, although 20% of people across the country voted for them. This is not right.

    We have different sized electorates in Australia, with different populations, so some votes (in country seats) are worth more than others. We could get rid of this disparity in various ways, or attempt to work with it while ensuring that every vote counts.

    What would be fair is if every electorate has like 100 MPs, and a party that gets 10% gets 10 of them. But this is impractical. Nevertheless, we need to make sure that that 10% vote counts for something. So it can be given to another candidate in any electorate, to help elect that candidate. A candidate needs 100%, not 80% or 90%, a full seat worth of votes, in order to take office.

    Sometimes the most popular candidate in an electorate might not get elected. But usually they would. And everyone’s vote would count for something.

  3. brendanscott says:

    You say:
    **** Start quote
    What would be fair is if every electorate has like 100 MPs, and a party that gets 10% gets 10 of them. But this is impractical. Nevertheless, we need to make sure that that 10% vote counts for something. So it can be given to another candidate in any electorate, to help elect that candidate. A candidate needs 100%, not 80% or 90%, a full seat worth of votes, in order to take office.
    **** End quote

    Which gets back to what the point of having a lower house is. If it is to represent people in a certain, relatively small, geographical region, you can’t justify using votes from that region in another region.

    This issue is already addressed by having a senate/ upper house – which is why, presumably, the Greens do better in the upper house. Both houses are supposed to perform different functions and have different constituencies so that they act as checks on each other. If all members are elected on a senate type system, then local issues will end up being run roughshod over.

  4. sswam says:

    The MPs only represent some of the people in each electorate, they don’t represent the ~60% of people, who didn’t vote for that party. It’s corrupt and wrong.

  5. sswam says:

    It would actually be better if they would make a pie chart of the votes for each candidate, and throw a dart at it to choose the MP. Candidates with more votes would be more likely to get in. At least that way, the minority parties and independents would have some chance to get in, and overall each party would have approximately the right number of MPs.

    But, people who don’t know math might not like that solution as it involves chance. So I was suggesting a more complex solution that does not rely on chance.

    I guess people would ridicule my suggestion with the dart (i.e. random choice), but it really would give a more representative and all around better parliament.

  6. brendanscott says:

    You need to explain why it is corrupt. If you have 3 people in a room and they take a majority decision 2-1, that’s not corrupt, that’s just the rules they agreed for their decision making.

    You also need to articulate why, *in the lower house* the representative should be someone other than the person picked by the majority, or where there is more than one representative, the persons with the most votes in order. In relation to throwing a dart, you would need to show why a randomised result is preferable to the votes of the majority. On the face of it, it isn’t. If the vote is split 90-10 it would seem a little outrageous for the person with 10% of the votes to represent the electorate. How are they supposed to be an effective representative in the parliament if, by assumption, they are out of touch (and perhaps at odds) with the will of the people they are supposedly representing?

    These objections are addressed in something like Hare Clarke, but that has multiple members in each constituency. Move to Tasmania or the ACT to experience it.

    • sswam says:

      “it would seem a little outrageous for the person with 10% of the votes to represent the electorate”

      That would only happen in one out of 10 elections, which is fair enough.

      Consider an electorate with 40% Chinese people and 60% Anglo people, with one candidate from each race. Each year, everyone votes for the candidate of their own race.

      With “stupid voting”, the Anglo always wins and the Chinese never wins, which is not fair. With “throw a dart”, approx 6 years out of ten the Anglo will be elected, and the other 4 years the Chinese will be elected. This is fair.

      If you don’t like randomness, there are ways to implement a fair system without it, but using randomness is much simpler.

      If a candidate wins 45% of vote in his electorate, he gets $45 “vote dollars”. He needs $100 to get a seat. He can try to get the other $55 from some other supportive candidate, or he can give his $45 to some other candidate whom he wants to support (e.g. from the same party), in any electorate. Or, he can try to “save up” his vote. On the third 3 years he will have $135 which is more than enough to get a seat. This is fair. His $45 is not enough to win EVERY election, but it is enough to get him a seat 45% of the time.

      Any mathematician worth his salt can confirm my opinion that the system of election we have now is not even remotely fair or representative, and that all of my suggested alternatives are fair, in that 10% votes leads to 10% representation.

      When I vote green, along with 10% of the people, do I want my green vote to be preferenced to some other party? Hell no, I do not. I’ll be happy with a few true green representatives in any seats around the nation. I don’t care what seats they are in, I care what policies they are promoting. A green MP in Hobart can care for the environment in Brisbane and around the nation, much better than a local labour or liberal party MP would.

      If people really want to vote along geographical lines, let them create a “ballarat” party or a “melbourne” party, to represent their location. I don’t want MPs to represent my location, I want them to represent what I believe is right. You can vote for “melbourne labour”, or “sydney liberal”. I want to vote for “australian greens”, “welcome the boat people”, and “reform that stupid
      electoral system”.

      • brendanscott says:

        You don’t seem to be getting the issue. The upper house *already* approximates your ideal system. If you apply a variant of that system to the lower house, then you get two upper houses – why bother? You may as well just abolish the lower house.

        As I mentioned above, this gets back to what the point of having a lower house is. Part of the reason for having different constituencies for the two houses of parliament is so that they act as checks on each other (this is also the reason that senators serve for a different period of time to members of the house).

        If you don’t agree with that structure it doesn’t mean it is corrupt (or even wrong). You need to establish why your approach is better. Your proposal has the obvious problem of concentrating power in the constituencies represented by the upper house. It has a secondary problem in that, at present, we cast votes for people not for policies nor for parties (above the line voting not withstanding).

  7. sswam says:

    I get it. The upper house uses something like my “ideal system”, because that’s the fair way to count votes. The lower house doesn’t. It uses an unfair system, because the people who designed the electoral system did not know very much math. It has not been reformed, because the present system for electing MPs benefits the large and powerful parties. It’s corrupt. That’s it, I’m done, over and out.

  8. sswam says:

    Thank-you, I’ll check it out.

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