Legalise Cannabis Qld candidate for Whitsunday Paul Hilder.
Legalise Cannabis Qld candidate for Whitsunday Paul Hilder.

Pot-lovers, anti-vaxxers, COVID-deniers clogging up ballot

SO who will you vote for this election?

Amid a worldwide pandemic and sky-high unemployment, do you feel one of the candidates for the Legalise Cannabis Party will have the best plans for the state going forward?

Perhaps an anti-vaxxer railing against the "creep towards medical tyranny" who believes people shouldn't be "coerced" into not contracting terrible diseases like whooping cough, chickenpox, measles and polio?

Maybe you'll cast your vote for one of Clive Palmer's bevy of family members and employees who are running for him this election to push up his spending cap allowance for political advertising?

Or perhaps the Civil Liberties & Motorists Party, who describe COVID-19 as a "fake pandemic" and call on people to "resist" government control?

However you vote on October 31, you will still have to vote for these clowns.

That's thanks to Queensland's move four years ago to adopt compulsory preferential voting - or the number every box model - over our old system that let us "just vote one".

But you shouldn't have to.

Whoever wins power this election should do this one thing for Queenslanders: Change the voting system back and let us go back to only voting for who we actually support.

We've already wasted too much time this election talking about how-to-vote cards and who is preferencing who, even when it won't influence the result.

It's a race-to-the-bottom moralistic argument about who is the least-worst candidate to vote for and how preference positions somehow earn one party a higher ethical standing than the other. And it's one we don't need.

There's almost 600 candidates running in this poll and they definitely don't all deserve a vote. Why did we even change in the first place, you might ask?

Queensland adopted optional preferential voting in the 1992 election after the Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption recommended an independent Electoral and Administrative Review Committee examine look into the fairness of the existing system. It recommended a switch away from compulsory preferential voting.

Clive Palmer in Townsville endorsing his Clive Palmer's United Australia Party candidates, including his nephew, Martin Brewster, who is running in the seat of Mundingburra. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Clive Palmer in Townsville endorsing his Clive Palmer's United Australia Party candidates, including his nephew, Martin Brewster, who is running in the seat of Mundingburra. Picture: Alix Sweeney

In the two decades after, most Queenslanders had embraced the "new" system, and by 2012 nearly 70 per cent of voters were voting for only one candidate - the one they actually wanted to win.

But completely out of nowhere in 2016, and with no consultation, the Labor Palaszczuk Government slipped an amendment on to an LNP electoral bill that increased the number of seats in Queensland from 89 to 93.

The system, which would have delivered Labor nine more seats at the 2015 election gave Greens voters another place to park their vote, and it did help Labor in the 2017 poll.

It pushed Education Minister Grace Grace above the LNP in McConnel with Greens preferences to keep her seat.

Labor claimed Mansfield when the Greens and One Nation preferenced Labor over the LNP and booted the sitting member there.

Over in Maiwar, LNP frontbencher Scott Emerson lost his seat when ALP votes pushed Greens candidate Michael Berkman past the first-placed Emerson and over the line.

Labor insisted changing back to compulsory preferential voting was "reasonable" given confusion between different state and federal voting instructions.

"We've already brought ourselves into line with other states with the four-year fixed terms; we believe this is another opportunity to deal with that confusion," Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said.

Queensland Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Leichelle McMahon.
Queensland Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Leichelle McMahon.

But that argument doesn't exactly stand when you consider that the Palaszczuk Government scrapped its plans to introduce compulsory preferential voting for local government elections.

Councils blew up over concerns it would be undemocratic and penalise Indigenous communities with poor literacy.

It was a loss for Labor, who reckoned it might help them finally regain Brisbane's City Hall. So now Queenslanders vote one way in federal and state election and another way in local government.

Why can't we just vote one way in federal elections and another way in state and council ones?

What's the difference?

Are we really to believe voters are so stupid they can't follow simple instructions around numbering all the boxes or just as many boxes as they want depending on which election they're voting in?

Because we certainly shouldn't believe Labor changed the laws for any other reason than to benefit themselves.


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