Vote below the line and vote independent.
Parliament resumes next week and Malcolm Turnbull may make real threat of a double dissolution. He clearly thinks that the reforms that have been passed will get rid of the “intransigent” cross benchers and he undoubtedly hopes that this will be to the benefit of the Liberal party.
This is group that he has in his sights.
And before we rejoice at saying goodbye to them, it’s worth having a look at what they’ve been doing. Here is how they’ve been voting.
So it would appear that, for the most part, this group of people is fairly judicious about their support for government legislation. It may also be that they take a critical view of legislation that comes before the upper house. As distinct from the Government Senators who invariably, and possibly uncritically, support all government legislation.
And here is an indication of the cross benchers’ political positions before the Palmer United Party imploded.
It may be that the diversity of political views that this group represents, particularly now that Lambie and Lazarus are independents, is a rough approximation of the views of the Australian electorate. So there is a distinct possibility that an independent Senate would subject government legislation to scrutiny that would roughly approximate the political views of most Australians.
Certainly there is a better chance of this than if one of the two major parties were to dominate the Senate.
One of the problems with our political system is that, once you voted for a party at a general election, you are pretty much stuck with what they want to do for the next three years. The electorate does not have an opportunity to vote on key issues such as going to war in the Middle East. Electronic voting would allow the electorate to vote on such issues but it is unlikely that any of the major parties would want to subject themselves to that level of regular political scrutiny while in office
However, there is a political halfway house.
Having a Senate that fulfils one of its original functions, that of being a house of review, rather than simple approval or disapproval depending party affiliation.
If everyone in Australia voted below the line and voted for independent candidates, we would have an upper house that would not be a rubber stamp for one of the two major parties but would vote according to the, probably pretty idiosyncratic, views of a group of people who would be pretty ordinary Australians but certainly not party hacks.
You might not like the politics of some of the people who are currently on the crossbench. I don’t particularly like some of David Leyonhjelm policies and I am no great fan of Family First. But I would be very happy if Liberal Cory Bernardi is not re-elected to the Senate.
It is worth remembering that at a double dissolution, all Senators will be up for re-election and people who wish to vote for the Liberal party may now do so without voting for people like Cory Bernardi.
Under new voting rules, the re-election of Cory Bernardi is not assured
And while I might not like all the political views of the current cross bench, I have to admit they done a pretty good job of stopping the worst of the current Liberal government legislation, particular in relation to the budget.
So what would happen if we had a Senate entirely made up of the likes of Xenophon, Lambie, Lazarus, Day, Madigan and Ricky Muir?
We would have a group of pretty ordinary Australians with whom the government of the day would need to negotiate its legislation.
There is a chance, just a small chance, that such a Senate may be a reflection of the political views of the Australian population.
It might be a long shot, but I think it’s one worth taking.