October 04, 2013 | Graham

Minor parties plan assault on political duopoly

The election of Cathy McGowan in Indi has energised some minor and micro party supporters to become more professional. Whether they can have the same success remains to be seen, but they’re getting together to discuss how to use existing organisations and new technology to take on the major party duopoly.

Calling themselves the Heart and Soul of Australia they’re holding a summit this Monday.

As Joanne Stuart from Centre for Civil Society says:

The electoral dynamics in ‘safe seats’ are often misunderstood. If an incumbent politician can be reduced to less than 50% of the vote, a community-based third candidate can win if they poll in the 20s, ahead of other groups, and receive their preferences. In Indi, the Liberal won 45%, and the traditional opponent (the ALP) just 12%. Cathy McGowan polled 30%, but because she received preferences from the Greens (8%), other minor parties, and the ALP, she won the seat.

In safe Labor seats, a reverse scenario applies. If the ALP vote can be reduced to less than 50%, and a community-based third candidate polls more than the Liberals, then preferences can enable a community win. Independent Andrew Wilkie won the previously ‘safe’ Labor seat of Denison in Hobart this way in 2010 with less than 20% of the primary vote, but received preferences from all other non-Labor parties. He was re-elected on 7 September with a swing of 18%.

Traditionally ‘safe seats’ are much easier for community third candidate to win than traditionally ‘marginal’ electorates. In a marginal where Labor and Liberal each get 40%, it is hard for a community challenger to finish second – because both of the majors think they can win and therefore campaign hard. In a ‘safe seat’, they don’t bother campaigning seriously, and it is realistic for a challenger to aim to finish second.

So watch out if you’re in a safe seat.

They are particularly targeting state elections, with planning starting at the summit.

New technologies appear to be a key to what is planned.

Craig Lambie will lead this Summit. Craig is an IT whizz and campaigner, who previously developed The Greens’ technology platform for their campaigns. Craig has begun planning a strategy and campaign platform that will enable us to develop a large-membership organization in preparation for next year’s state election campaigns, with a particular focus on the Victorian election in November.

Posted by Graham at 5:26 pm | Comments (3) |


  1. A tad disappointing that no comments thus far. The Indi result was a great victory for the simplicity of both common sense and common decency. The sitting Member alienated herself from the community at large, taking a few things too far and hence for granted. Hopefully, she’ll be wiser for the experience. The performance of the new Member will come under much scrutiny, but we are all confident and pleased at the qualities she will be bring to the new Parliament.

    Comment by Harry Kinkaid — October 5, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

  2. This is just yet another compelling case for the immediate implementation of optional preferential voting! Preferential voting may have provided some political benefit, when just three parties contested?
    But, it not only no longer serves the interests of the major parties, but works against them, due to the sheer numbers now in the electoral contest!
    We have just lived through a period, where the parliament was virtually run by tail wagging the dog minor parties, or virtual political blackmail?
    An outcome, which virtually destroyed many political careers, and a once great party.
    The result in Indi, I believe, had nothing to do with minor parties preferencing each other; but rather, it seems, to the lack of concern and care on the part of a particularly abrasive incumbent, who apparently, took the electorate entirely for granted; and compounded that extreme arrogance, by failing to listen; or, talking down to people, many of who, would have been her intellectual superiors?
    It’s almost impossible for mere mortals to know what other people are actually thinking, without first asking and then actually listening to them!
    A tail wagging the dog outcome, isn’t something we should allow ever again, and easily prevented by a bipartisan change to the electoral rules, to endorse optional preferencing, which ought to exhaust, at the voter’s choice?
    Counting would be easier, as the just vote one votes, would be counted first, which ought to be most of them?
    Finally, we need Photo ID’s and to move beyond a pencil, to an indelible pen! Given the ease with which pencil marks can be erased and then redrawn?
    It would be very hard to make a mistake, with a just vote one ballot paper, or even if the preferences exhausted at two or three?
    In which case, the voter would remain free to tender the botched ballot paper, in exchange for a fresh/blank one, and redo the thing again?
    I wouldn’t mind if we also included a thumbprint to validate a formal vote, given just how much more difficult it would be to forge biometric validation!
    At the moment, we rely almost exclusively on the honor method. A method that allows some to vote for a friend, relative or a spouse, or even people who have recently tottered off the mortal coil?
    Alan B. Goulding

    Comment by Alan Goulding — October 7, 2013 @ 10:05 am

  3. There are now many parties emerging but finding the ones with integrity is the difficult chore.

    Comment by Ross — October 7, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

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