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Minor Parties in Australian Politics

Artwork By Leitu Bonnici

Disillusioned youth and disengagement with politics is nothing new in the Australian political scene. Political power and consequently huge aspects of our lives are dictated by either the Liberal and Labor parties. Thus, the feeling of representation of your own unique views can often fall short across all the policies in only two parties. The trend to support minor political parties, for example the well-known ‘One Nation’ and the ‘Greens’, has led to a shift in the balance of power in the Senate.  However, there are many other minor parties that can be seen to push an agenda more closely aligned with your own.

Firstly, let’s break down how exactly the government is formed and how your vote informs the structure of it. Australian political power, and our votes, are reflected in two houses. The House of Representatives is where the government is formed. The Senate acts as the ‘house of review’ and has the power to approve or reject decisions made in the House of Representatives. If one political party holds majority of power in both houses they can fast track any legislation they like. Therefore, as the people in the Senate keep everything in check, a diverse and balanced Senate is essential for a strong democracy.

There are 57 political parties in Australia, yet the Labor and Liberal parties deluge much of the Australian media. Thankfully, there exist many varied parties pushing forward and offering other ideals that can help espouse your views and opinions to shape the Australia you want. By voting in minor parties this opposes the “two-party system” which exists, and is strongly perpetuated by the mainstream media, in Australia.

Here three minor Australian political parties will be explored in detail to widen your perception of politics. As Plato once said: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Recently the technology driven political party ‘Flux’ has been formed. Flux operates through an app and you are the operator behind the politician. The user is given a vote on every bill put before Federal Parliament and can use that vote either;

  • immediately on the issue at hand;
  • by giving it to a trusted third party to cast on your behalf; or
  • by saving it for an issue you care more passionately about later.

Flux representatives completely give up their autonomy and vote per the people utilising the app. This is a marked change from politicians back-flipping on campaign ideals, a la Malcolm Turnbull on same sex marriage, or running for election to boost their own career. There are flaws in this system with the potential for people to flood the app who are aligned strongly with certain preferences. However, it is a strong step in ensuring politicians are accountable to the individuals who voted them into power and allow the everyday Australian to gain control and have a voice in the political arena.

The Art Party is the only art focused political party in the world and does not identify as either left or right wing, but rather aims for a culturally creative and diverse society. What distinguishes the Art party from other political parties is this specific emphasis on one area of reform – the arts. Having members of political parties in the Senate from minor parties, such as the Arts party, who focus on one particular area, enables issues that are varied to be acknowledged. Other issues that do not directly relate would then be considered in relation to the ethos of the party. For example, if a bill on housing affordability reform were brought forward, the Art Party would hypothetically analyse it in relation to the community and culture of the arts and then vote. This would lead to a senate which is balanced and representative of varied public voices.

Another minor party representing a key area that the government traditionally struggles with is the Science Party. Focused on technological advancements and the growth of a positive and thriving future for all Australians, the Science Party advocates for public healthcare and policies based on intelligent evidence-based research. A major point of difference of the Science party is their support for a secular government to ensure justice and liberty of beliefs.

After the Senate reforms of 2016, we could envision future Senates comprised of minor parties. It is easier than ever before for the minor parties to represent smaller factions of the community, leading to a diversity of political voices having their say on the way our country is governed. The future of Australian politics could be in your hands if you consider varied parties other than the big two of the Labor and Liberal parties. Your voice could finally be represented on issues important to you.

 

Jessica Lehmann

The author Jessica Lehmann

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