It’s Election Time Again

Linux People and Voting

Chris Samuel (a member of LUV who’s known for his work on high performance computers and the “vacation” program) has described why he’s voting for the Greens [1]. His main reasons are the Greens strong support of human rights and for science-based policy.

Paul Dwerryhouse (a member of the Australian Linux community who’s currently travelling around the world and who has made contributions to a range of Linux projects including SE Linux) has described his thoughts about the “Filter Conroy” campaign [2]. He gives a list of some of the high profile awful candidates who could possibly win a seat and therefore deserve a lower position in the preferences than Conroy.

SAGE-AU and Voting for the Internet

There has been some discussion by members of the System Administrators Guild of Australia (SAGE-AU) [3] about issues related to the election. As you would expect there was no consensus on which party was best. But there was a general agreement that the Greens are the only significant party to strongly support the NBN (National Broadband Network – fiber to the home in cities and fast wireless in rural areas) and to also strongly oppose censoring the Internet. SAGE-AU has an official position opposing Internet filtering, and while the organisation hasn’t taken a position on the NBN it seems that the majority of members are in favor of it (I am in a small minority that doesn’t like the NBN). So it seems that political desires of the SAGE-AU members (and probably most people who care about the Internet in Australia) are best represented by the Greens.

Note that SAGE-AU has no official policy on this, the above paragraph is based on discussions I’ve had on mailing lists and in private mail with a number of SAGE-AU members. Also note that not all the SAGE-AU members who agree that the Greens advocate their positions on Internet issues plan to vote for them.

The Green support for the NBN is based on the importance of the Internet to all aspects of modern life, the social justice benefit of providing decent net access for everyone (particularly people in rural areas) is very important to the Greens. I still oppose the NBN and believe that it would be better to just provide better ADSL in all suburbs, better net access (through whichever technology works best) in rural areas, and fiber to the central business areas. But the NBN isn’t really that important to me, human rights and a science based policy are much more important and are the reasons why I’ve been supporting and voting for the Greens.

No Wasted Votes

One thing to note is that the Australian electoral system is designed to avoid wasted votes. There are two ways of considering a vote to be wasted in Australia, one is if you live in an electorate where both the upper and lower house elections have an almost certain result such that no expected swing can change the outcome – I doubt that this is possible for any region in Australia given the way the upper house elections work, although a large portion of the lower house seats have a result that is almost certain.

The other way of having a wasted vote is to vote for someone who doesn’t actually represent you. Lots of people mindlessly vote for a party that seems to represent them, either they identify with unions and vote Labor every time, they regard themselves as “conservative” and vote Liberal every time, or they live in a rural area and vote National every time. The Labor and Liberal parties don’t differ much in policies and members in safe seats typically don’t do anything for the people who elected them. If you generally support the policies of one of the major parties then it can be a good tactic to give your first preference to a minor party. For example if you tend towards Labor then vote Greens first and preference Labor over Liberal. The result will be that your vote will count towards Labor in the lower house and it sends a message to Labor and prevents them from being complacent.

Before Australian elections there is always some propaganda going around about wasted votes, this is usually part of a deliberate campaign to try and prevent people from voting for smaller parties. Because the news has many mentions of wasted votes in US elections (which are watched closely in Australia) it seems that some Australians don’t realise that there are significant and fundamental differences between the political systems in Australia and the US.


Last time I checked the Greens were still accepting volunteers to hand out “how to vote” cards, so if you want to do more for the Greens than just vote for them then this is one way to do it. If you want an uncensored Internet with freedom of speech and a lot of investment in infrastructure (as well as good support for all human rights) then you really want to help the Greens win more seats at the election on Saturday.

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