Who is holier than thou in senate preference deals?

In the battle for a senate seat there are some interesting alliances being done in an effort to get one of the minor parties a senate spot. The main effort seems to deny the Greens and The Democrats but especially the Greens, any preferences thus harming their chances.

Hence for parties like Family First and Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party, they intend to place most minor parties above the majors. Hopefully this will lead to someone other than The Greens taking a seat. For Family First, their effort to counter a vote against the Greens means they have preferenced Pauline Hanson above the Greens. But as the aim is to prevent The Greens from destroying families holding the balance of power, it is an understandable application of family values.

Of course in this fight for the senate spot, tempers can fray. Fred Nile is not happy with Family First. The issue is that Family First has placed the Liberty and Democracy Party above the major parties in New South Wales. Heaven forbid! Nile unleashed a salvo against Family First which ended up in his backyard as the CDP has also preferenced the LDP above the major parties.

Family First rationale their choice as they do not want LDP preferences to go to The Greens. The CDP claim that Family First is “compromising their Christianity.” The winner in all this holier than thou bickering over preferences? You’ll have to wait to November 24th.

Though Ian Bryce, the Atheist Party candidate, should get a chuckle out of this. The CDP have placed him above the Family First candidate.

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Posted in federal election '07
14 comments on “Who is holier than thou in senate preference deals?
  1. TimT says:

    Don’t forget the Climate Change Coalition’s dodgy deals with Pauline Hanson: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22721789-5014047,00.html

  2. philiptravers says:

    Tim T piece reminds me of how desperate some people become around election time,and wether the electorate is ready for desperation is another matter.It is hard to fathom how the CCC has declined to support existing parties on climate matters who are more informed about matters practical.Fred Nile somehow is less Christian than the new Christian Party on the block.And Pauline is more Christian than Fred,more Climate Change concerned than Greens Democrats and Labor,and obviously by those two matters alone more Government ready than Karl the beam me up Scotty, from the ABC!? I mean Pauline has the God fearing on her side against the pretenders of Christianity, and the Climate change specially concerned,so that means she is looking down on us from a natural uninterfered with cloud of a naturally occuring type!? Next thing will be a saintly visit by Saint Lizard to me,to pay my Telstra bills for all eternity! I should really start up the Old Girlfriends Club Party,gee, I might have a old girlfriend who worked at the ABC ,who still could be Christian! Now where is that Dimboola site,schools, names etc!? Stuff!?Its AD!? Well she sat in a row opposite my left side in Grade six!? I think my vegemite and cheese sandwiches I left in my ,whatacallem desk, put her off though.Bugger it! I did the same in Frankston Tech. where I left a whole lot of things that went stinky because I lost the key to the locker.Nine months later the school was in uproar.Well, I wasnt used to having anything that needed to be locked! After all like the Family First member,I seem to recall,slipping into some under-chunder hand me downs! Ah!Yes!It was my swimming togs very wet wrapped around some Dunlop volleys,plus vegemite and cheese sandwiches that caused the Tech school havoc. Well ,just imagine what government would look like run on the old school tie,or ty, thai, if Pauline was in power!?.Supplemented by Karls school buddies!? Sorry.

  3. tigtog says:

    It has been very interesting indeed to watch the way that these preference deals have played out.

    I also found another aspect of religious politicking fascinating, and meant to write about it – the Australian Christian Lobby’s survey of all the parties for assessing their compliance with “Christian values”, and how they complained that the refusal of the Greens to answer the questions as structured showed an alleged “disdain for Christian values”. Christine Milne demolished that quite effectively on RN’s Religion Report, I thought. [transcript]

    Stephen Crittenden: Do you think though that by refusing to answer the questionnaire in the form that it was provided, the Greens perhaps opened themselves to the very charge that the Australian Christian Lobby has made, that the Greens display an obvious disdain for Christian values?

    Christine Milne: Well on the contrary, the Greens don’t have obvious disdain for Christian values, that is something that perhaps Mr Wallace might say but there are many Christians who are members of the Greens and by our actions in the Parliament, we say that every piece of legislation is values-laden, and we argue that the Budget is one of the pieces of legislation which demonstrate what sort of values you hold, and that’s very much a Christian-laden document in the sense of you know,‘ I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty, you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was sick and you visited me.’ The Greens were the only ones who stood up against the tax cuts who said we ought to be putting money into health and education saying if we can’t support indigenous rights and health and education now when we’ve got such a surplus, when will we? And I must say that the Australian Christian Lobby has never come out and made a statement supporting the strong stand the Greens have taken on refugees, against the Northern Territory intervention, in fact I think Mr Wallace supported the Pacific Solution.

    Stephen Crittenden: I was going to suggest that the Labor party had avoided being wedged by the Christian Lobby at this election but the Greens perhaps had been wedged by the Australian Christian lobby. Maybe another way of looking at it is that you’ve actually managed to wedge the Christian vote by demonstrating that there are perhaps two wings to the Christian vote. You know, I’m aware that the Greens have provided a very detailed set of responses to a similar questionnaire by the Centre for an Ethical Society.

    Christine Milne: Exactly, and they recognise just how strongly Greens adhere to principles of social justice, human dignity, respect for life. We have policies of harm minimisation, harm reduction. We’re out there saying we welcome comment on public economic and social policy that we really want to see the principles of justice there, and I’m interested also that the Australian Christian Lobby never ever talks about the fact that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than the rich man, and that’s because of the whole prosperity gospel, and I’ve been urging – since my inaugural speech to the parliament, that what we need is a real values debate in this country where we actually talk about the values that underpin social and economic policy, because the way that the Australian Christian Lobby has managed to defy Christian values is to confine it to a very narrow range of values, therefore suggesting that every other issue is value-free, and what that does is reinforce their conservative government which basically bring in policies which approve of discrimination, which don’t show compassion, which are intolerant, which don’t give a fair go. And somehow those things are not values-laden, so I think this was a serious effort by the Greens to really demonstrate that before we see this incursion of really fundamentalist religious right into Australian politics, people need to know where it’s coming from, and I think Mr Wallace could clear that up by actually saying who’s funding the Australian Christian Lobby.

  4. TimT says:

    A well argued response by Milne there, though very ideological. But unsurprisingly, the Bible isn’t clear on the perennial big government/small government arguments in the modern capitalist world. (It also says ‘thou shalt not steal’, and there isn’t exactly a clear distinction between taxation and theft. It also comes in pretty strongly against envy -‘thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass’ – something Milne could learn from.) I think she has a point, but it’s a pity she doesn’t emphasise the possibility for personal charity and philanthropy, and instead seems to assume that all good comes out of government.

    I think it was the Australian Conservation Foundation who came out with a similar idea to that of the Christian Lobby – they ranked parties according to their green policies, which I found a tad sanctimonious.

  5. tigtog says:

    I think she has a point, but it’s a pity she doesn’t emphasise the possibility for personal charity and philanthropy, and instead seems to assume that all good comes out of government.

    I think that’s an ideological reading of what she’s saying above yourself. She argues that the Greens policies buttress the biblical verse that emphasises personally helping others, that government policies should be in harmony with that biblical principle rather than in opposition to it. That’s hardly the same as saying that the government should do it all.

    I think it was the Australian Conservation Foundation who came out with a similar idea to that of the Christian Lobby – they ranked parties according to their green policies, which I found a tad sanctimonious.

    I have no objection to any lobby group ranking parties on how well they adhere to the lobby’s goals, I don’t see that as sanctimonious no matter what the agenda is. What is sanctimonious is claiming that a party not filling out one’s survey necessarily means that they oppose the lobby on general principles, which is what the ACL has done when they claim that objecting to the wording of their survey questions displays a “disdain for Christian values”.

  6. TimT says:

    Of course it’s an ideological reading on my part, Tigtog. I can hardly come onto LP with a variation on the small-government-is-good style argument and not expect to be challenged on those grounds!

    For me, the basis of generosity and charity comes from individual people and the choices they make; and Milne doesn’t mention this at all. She seems to be operating from a top-down assumption of charity: that virtue comes from government that represents the people, rather than the people that choose the government.

    As to the ACF, I just found the implicit assumption – that they knew what was environmentally good, and that they themselves were setting the standard to which governments were expected to conform – condescending. But this is a problem common for most interest groups, and certainly the Christian lobby provides an excellent example of this.

  7. Tim T, there is absolutely no comparison between the manner in which religious interest groups set their own values as benchmarks in candidate surveys and the manner in which groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation conducts its party report card.

    The benchmarks the ACF considers with respect to climate are based on international scientific consensus. The values put forward by certain religious lobby groups are often, as Milne suggests, narrow, unsupported by coherent argument, and conveniently insular. Placing the religious lobby on a par with groups like the ACF is hollow relativism. They might both be trying to influence government policy, but there is a clear qualitative difference between them.

    Secondly, helping others doesn’t come down to a choice between government on the one hand and individuals on the other. Surely it’s a balance of both, though there is no substitute for government policy and regulation to moderate individual and corporate self-interest. Humankind is more than a free market.

  8. TimT says:

    A comment full of loaded terms, Darren. ‘Scientific consensus’ is one such; your comment that ‘…values put forward by certain religious lobby groups are often … narrow, unsupported by coherent argument’ is itself narrow and unsupported by coherent argument.

    As to your last paragraph, you should probably re-read my first comment. I agree with you, you silly billy!

  9. Tim, I’m not quite sure how your point about the Cimate Change Coalition’s supposed deals with Hanson relates to my argument. I’m actually not that familiar with the CCC, or with the deal you discuss.

    However, given the widely publicised evidence supporting the theory that people are causing dangerous climate change – notably the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – I don’t have an issue with claiming a scientific consensus in that regard.

    It is also unreasonable within the constraints of a blog comment to publish a treatise on why religious lobby groups are fundamentally wrong. All I can say is that if you want to put your money on Fred Nile et al, then I can’t really help you. If that makes me a ‘silly billy’, then so be it.

  10. TimT says:

    Darren – go back to this comment here:

    I think she has a point, but it’s a pity she doesn’t emphasise the possibility for personal charity and philanthropy, and instead seems to assume that all good comes out of government.

    I didn’t rule out the possibility for government charity and for generous actions on the part of government, just suggested that there are other important spheres for charity and generosity that are not government-based models.

    Nice attempt at wilfully misreading my comments, though. And nice attempt, here –

    It is also unreasonable within the constraints of a blog comment to publish a treatise on why religious lobby groups are fundamentally wrong. All I can say is that if you want to put your money on Fred Nile et al, then I can’t really help you. If that makes me a ’silly billy’, then so be it.

    – at excusing your lack of arguments.

  11. Tim, I think the emphasis of your comments is on the individual’s role in charity and philanthropy, and that’s a free-market, individual responsibility argument that doesn’t wash with those who see a big role for government in social policy.

    Regarding a lack of arguments, look to the religious lobby itself. In particular, look at its lack of engagement with broad-based reasoned debate when compared with groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation. That’s the central argument, really, and it’s why the religious lobby ultimately has such minimal electoral clout compared to parties like the Greens.

  12. TimT says:

    Why doesn’t it ‘wash’ with ‘those who see a big role for government’? Again, no arguments, just a rhetorical papering-over-the-gaps. Very tricky.

  13. This is my last word, Tim – after that you have this thread all to yourself. If you place the emphasis regarding the welfare of others on individual efforts then, for one thing, it will be harder to develop large-scale solutions to societal problems that should be recognised as shared by us all and are better addressed at a policy level. The alternative is an argument for the greed of a dog-eat-dog society in which, according to the Pentecostals for example, you’re rich because God is smiling upon you and poor because you’re just no good. But why should we be developing large-scale solutions to societal problems, I hear you asking. Well, that’s exactly what you should be thinking about – I can’t do the thinking for you.

  14. TimT says:

    For one thing, it’s worth remembering that all large-scale social projects are funded by the efforts, the hard work, and the sacrifices of individual taxpayers. Obviously, acknowledging this doesn’t necessarily delegitimise large-scale social projects.

    And please –

    But why should we be developing large-scale solutions to societal problems, I hear you asking. Well, that’s exactly what you should be thinking about – I can’t do the thinking for you.

    – don’t put words in my mouth.

    Thanks for your time Darren.

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