Typical first-time voter

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Last updated on August 6th, 2017 at 07:10 am

Michael Duffy votes for the first time – and makes a surprising choice:

Developer donations to political parties are corrupting and distorting our democracy, and I intend to vote for the Greens because they oppose this and have put so much effort into exposing it, not least through their excellent website democracy4sale.org.

It’s true the Greens also have some deplorable policies on the environment, but none of us is perfect.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/24/2007 at 06:35 AM
    1. The Greens are just deplorable.

      Posted by anthony_r on 2007 03 24 at 06:45 AM • permalink


    1. His article is a cogent argument against compulsory voting.

      Posted by anthony_r on 2007 03 24 at 06:48 AM • permalink


    1. Don’t tell me the Greens don’t have their price. It may not be developers but it sure as hell would be other lobby groups. The bongmaker guild for instance.

      Posted by Nic on 2007 03 24 at 06:49 AM • permalink


    1. A bit like voting national socalist because they make the trains run on time?
      Pol Pot because of urban overpopulation?
      Any vote for a communist party because capitalism exploits you?

      If you dont vote then you have no right to complain about government. You may as well tick the box marked “jam it up me Im too ignorant to care”

      Posted by thefrollickingmole on 2007 03 24 at 06:51 AM • permalink


    1. Is that the same Michael Duffy who has “been a delegate in two trade unions”, which points to partisanship and wasn’t disclosed by the SMH?

      Posted by romeo on 2007 03 24 at 06:55 AM • permalink


    1. Out my way,
      we changed the Vote Greens, signs, to

      EAT Greens.

      Posted by Pogria on 2007 03 24 at 06:56 AM • permalink


    1. #3 Nic, the bongmakers are fairly benign, being mostly out of it.  It’s Big Abortion, Big Euthanasia, and Big Let’s Drink Our Own Piss that are backing the Greens.

      Posted by anthony_r on 2007 03 24 at 06:57 AM • permalink


    1. romeo

      But dont forget hes the ABC’s token right wing hit man!!

      Posted by thefrollickingmole on 2007 03 24 at 07:01 AM • permalink


    1. Rebase, I was thinking of well of big macrame, big hunza pie and big patchouli

      Posted by Nic on 2007 03 24 at 07:01 AM • permalink


    1. The upper house was a giant bowl of muesli (full of flakes, fruits, and nuts).

      Posted by Guardian_Angel on 2007 03 24 at 07:07 AM • permalink


    1. Remember, every little thing helps.

      Posted by Crossie on 2007 03 24 at 07:07 AM • permalink


    1. Of course, if this dickhead was at all serious about his principles he still didn’t have to put a number in any box.

      Posted by Margos Maid on 2007 03 24 at 07:10 AM • permalink


    1. A vote for the Greens is a wasted vote. Have they ever got into double digits?

      What the Greens should learn is
      a) people don’t vote for people to want to legalise drugs
      b) people won’t vote for people who tell you your lifestyle is killing the planet

      On the other hand, the guy I voted for got about 20% of the vote, so I guess my opinion is null and void.

      Posted by Matthew Lawrence on 2007 03 24 at 07:27 AM • permalink


    1. I liked Duffy’s work when he was writing for the Independent Monthly all those years ago, but his radio hour lately is sounding more and more like a crappy end-of-year University revue. And now he’s got a sidekick. Not a sign that augurs well for the future.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 03 24 at 07:29 AM • permalink


    1. For God’s sake, Swinish, I should rephrase that: “How old are you”.

      Posted by Crossie on 2007 03 24 at 07:44 AM • permalink


    1. Old enough to have been in school the day that Gough got turfed in 1975, Crossie. The headmaster went around to every class to make the announcement himself.
      On the other hand, I’m young enough to enjoy the theme song from Casino Royale. Though I suspect the neighbours may be tiring of it.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 03 24 at 07:49 AM • permalink


    1. Swinish, maybe I should explain: Anyone born after me is too young to know anything. OK, this is still consoling myself after the lost election thing.

      Posted by Crossie on 2007 03 24 at 07:50 AM • permalink


    1. Hey, there’s gin and tonic for that.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 03 24 at 07:55 AM • permalink


    1. Swinish, I am supporting the domestic sparkling wine (champagne) industry instead.  I like to piss off the Frech at the same time as well.

      Posted by Crossie on 2007 03 24 at 07:58 AM • permalink


    1. OK, that will be the French instead of the Frech.

      Posted by Crossie on 2007 03 24 at 08:00 AM • permalink


    1. And funck you, Morris Iemma. OK, that will be…

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 03 24 at 08:10 AM • permalink


    1. With 76% percent of votes counted, the Al-Qaeda candidate has pulled at least 1,272 – out polling the Democrats, but not the Christian Democrats.

      That’s a considerable number of ‘people of interest.’

      Posted by monaro on 2007 03 24 at 08:35 AM • permalink


    1. #4 TFM – “If you dont vote then you have no right to complain about government”. I normally don’t disagree with what you write but here I do.

      You vill vote or you vill shut TF up! We voters are the only people who have the right to comment. Enforced democracy. Reminds me of another compulsary voting democracy of the 70’s, Albania, where the populace were so enamoured by their glorious leader Enver Hoxha that some managed to vote twice enabling him to obtain 102.5% of the popular vote.

      In South Australia in the 60’s when I first voted the pubs shut at 6PM (the six o’clock swill). Workers would rush in, vote straight down the list then rush out to the pub before it closed. Whatever party was drawn first on the list (it could have been the Paedophile Information Exchange) would be guaranteed up to 10% of the vote. The so called donkey vote. Democracy at its finest.

      I didn’t vote one year because I didn’t like any of the parties in my electorate and considered it patently stupid to waltz in and hand in a blank voting slip. And come out in the count as one of the “informals”, you know, the ones who are too thick to fill in a ballot form correctly.

      I explained this in a two page letter to the electoral commission, but by their response they hadn’t bothered to read it and fined me $20. I sent them a cheque for $100 and asked them to get back in touch with me when it ran out after a few more elections, saving both of us time and paperwork. Not good enough, I had to pay exactly $20. I didn’t and so it went on for about a year, correspondence, court cases (which I didn’t attend) until I was sentenced to gaol. How long for, no idea and I’ve never bothered to find out, I was overseas at the time and the old man wrote me a letter saying the coppers had lobbed up to take me to gaol. A 250 km round trip to country SA for nil result.

      Didn’t vote for 25 years, then applied to rejoin the electoral roll to become a local government councillor. All OK, not a word said from the electoral commision. However, it must be on the books somewhere, because when I was called up for jury service recently and filled out the form saying I was gaoled for not voting they took me off the list.

      Is Australia a greater democracy than the USA and the UK because we have compulsary voting and they don’t? No, I think not. If I want to vote I will, and if I don’t, I won’t. Compulsary voting favours the Labor party, that’s why they wish to retain it, but apart from that, its a crock of shite anyway.

      Posted by Whale Spinor on 2007 03 24 at 08:44 AM • permalink


    1. The first presidential ballot I cast was for… Jimmy Carter.

      I know, I know.


      Posted by Hucbald on 2007 03 24 at 08:50 AM • permalink


    1. #24 Hucbald

      OUCH!!  my first was Ronald Reagan, and it’s been all downhill from there…..

      Posted by Old Tanker on 2007 03 24 at 08:58 AM • permalink


    1. Whale Spinor

      My post does come accross a little more arrogant than I had intended so apologies. It wasnt meant to be a defence for compulsory voting (which I object to). However I do get a bit irritated when people winge about a government and then claim not to have voted last time.
      A bit like being a eunich in a harem, you know someone was screwed, you were there, but didnt participate.
      The system is crap, and I agree its overdue for reform root and brach.

      Posted by thefrollickingmole on 2007 03 24 at 09:10 AM • permalink


    1. Whale; I’m not sure the issue isn’t electoral boundaries and the Electoral Commission’s charming policy of simply eliminating Coalition-held seats in favour of additional Labour seats.

      Posted by wreckage on 2007 03 24 at 09:10 AM • permalink


    1. How can NSW vote him in, and with such a vote? I thought Melbourne was in Victoria?

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2007 03 24 at 09:34 AM • permalink


    1. Hey, #23, Whale Spinor, you can always go into the booth and leave the ballot blank or spoil it if you want to abstain. I have done this before. The number of “abstained” ballots still have to be counted and announced.

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2007 03 24 at 09:37 AM • permalink


    1. Jakalene X and co. came 15th out of the 19 groups running for the upper house.  Though two of the ‘parties’ they beat appeared to the end of the ballot paper, while the other two didn’t have names.

      In order (74.7% counted):

      838173 35.9% Labor Party
      733504 31.4% Coalition
      190210  8.1% Greens
      94602  4.1% Christian Dems  62331  2.7% Shooters Party
      36309  1.6% Aust. Democrats
       33842  1.4% Aust. Against Further Immigration
      34173  1.5% Fishing Party  22530  1.0% Unity
      20111  0.9% Workers Rights  13693  0.6% Group A
      12578  0.5% Horse Riders/Outdoor Rec
      9501  0.4% Group F (Climate Change Coalition)
        8620  0.4% Socialist Alliance
      8519  0.4% Human Rights   6281  0.3% Save Our Suburbs
      2245  0.1% Group M   1778  0.1% Dawn Fraser (no group)
      1766  0.1% Group H (Shed A Tier)

      The revolution has some way to go before catching up with the Shooters Party.

      Posted by monaro on 2007 03 24 at 09:51 AM • permalink


    1. How can NSW vote him in, and with such a vote? I thought Melbourne was in Victoria?

      Who are you talking about?

      Posted by monaro on 2007 03 24 at 10:06 AM • permalink


    1. HeHaHe – Now you know our pain down here in Brackistan. Welcome to our nightmare : (

      Posted by Srekwah on 2007 03 24 at 10:12 AM • permalink


    1. #29 Yes you can if you wish, but in a democracy you shouldn’t be forced to. The whole concept is stupid.

      #26 No worries. As an extra to my story, in 1983 I found myself at Australia House in London employed by the electoral commission for a few weeks as an electoral officer assisting with postal votes. Despite the fact I’d been taken off the electoral roll and worse, was a felon gaoled for not voting.

      Does this invalidate Bob Hawke and the Labor party’s election to office in 1983?

      Posted by Whale Spinor on 2007 03 24 at 10:15 AM • permalink


    1. #30 and the socialist alliance could barely get a quarter of the vote of the fishing party, a well known reactionary organisation. Hilarious

      Posted by Whale Spinor on 2007 03 24 at 10:26 AM • permalink


    1. “It’s true the Greens also have some deplorable policies”

      The Greens are even more totalitarian in their outlook than the communists (hard as that is to believe).

      If they ever take power…you can kiss democracy goodbye.

      Posted by Dave Surls on 2007 03 24 at 10:41 AM • permalink


    1. So Duffy asserts that it is illegal not to vote? That’s a technicality. The only thing you have to do legally is be signed off the roll and not exit the polling station with the ballot papers. I’ve seen a voter (while scrutineering) walk in, collect the papers, turn around, put the papers into the boxes and move towards the exit, going nowhere near the polling booths. When challenged that he didn’t vote, he replied “Prove it!” I nearly fell off my chair. The only amusing moment in a completely disasterous day.

      Posted by Justin on 2007 03 24 at 11:08 AM • permalink


    1. 34173 1.5% Fishing Party

      Only 1.5%, but still a lot of boats and beer.

      Posted by ErnieG on 2007 03 24 at 11:18 AM • permalink


    1. #25—my first was Ronald Reagan, and it’s been all downhill from there…..

      Once you’ve voted for Ronald Reagan, there’s nowhere to go but down. I cast my first vote for…drum roll please…Richard Nixon.

      The Australian Greens seem to be in the midst of some kind of existential crisis:


      All policies of the Australian Greens have been reviewed, and the revised documents are nearing finalisation. As a result, our previous policy documents are no longer operative and have been withdrawn. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. The revised documents will be uploaded in March.


      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2007 03 24 at 12:37 PM • permalink


    1. But is it really true that people who don’t vote shouldn’t have any right to complain about the government that runs their country? That can be challenged on several levels, even ignoring those countries where the supposedly democratic voting process is terribly corrupted. For one thing, the act of not voting isn’t always due to not caring—there might not be, in the eyes of the non-voter, any viable candidates whatsoever. Not voting thus can actually be described as a kind of vote—for “none of the above.” Would showing up, standing in line, and not filling out the ballot make it better? As people don’t generally announce to all and sundry at the polls who they are or aren’t voting for, the gesture would certainly be a waste of time.

      Then there are those people who couldn’t make it to the polls on time—they were sick, or otherwise unable to make it. Is it fair to tell them “sorry, you can’t complain, you didn’t vote.”

      Whoever votes or doesn’t, the elected officials have a duty to perform for all their constituents, not just the ones who participated in the election. They can’t tell non-voters “sorry, you can’t say anything about us because you didn’t play our little game.” Democratic republics aren’t clubs.

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2007 03 24 at 01:32 PM • permalink


    1. What’s more grotesque than not voting in an election and complaining about the resultant government?
      It’s voting for the incumbent (effectively) and continue to belly-ache.
      You can’t help stupidity.

      Posted by chrisgo on 2007 03 24 at 04:48 PM • permalink


    1. No matter how corrupt I know the major parties to be to accept bribes donations from big land developers, it is still no excuse to vote Green.

      And it’s an absolute cop-out of Duffy to even consider it.

      He knows the Green’s baggage as well as you and I – he knows about the legalisation of all drugs, (including Ice), the destruction of the coal mining industry etc etc.

      Duffy wrote a book on Mark Latham don’t forget. His latent loyalties have been simmering away for years, so it was only a matter of time before they showed themselves.

      So at the end of the day, Labor is a mild form of benign socialism while the Greens are a virulent collection of feral anarchists. End of story.

      Goodbye Michael Duffy.

      Posted by Bonmot on 2007 03 24 at 04:57 PM • permalink


    1. RE: whether you should be allowed to bitch about the government if you don’t vote?

      I take my voting very seriously. I once made the grevious error of voting against Chairman Jeff, since I was pissed off with him

      I figured he’d be returned in a landslide, and my single vote wouldn’t count. It was just a protest.

      Guess what happened? I wasn’t alone, and my single vote turned into a win for Steve Who?

      We’ve gone downhill ever since.

      So, people, votes do count.

      Use them responsibly, or find yourself in a police state where driving a few ks over the limit will see you fined to within an inch of your life, and rapists walk free.

      Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2007 03 24 at 05:20 PM • permalink


    1. I didn’t vote at all for about ten years. If the services were being provided I didn’t much care who was administering them from the top, and I had few illusions about the quality of the people at the top anyway. Some of them would be conscientious and some would be incompetent, and it didn’t matter much which side was in or out. And I’ve lived in safe seats (Labor and Liberal) most of my adult life, so I figured that one vote more or less either way didn’t make much difference. But the idiocy of the left has struck new depths in the last few years. Nowadays I vote for the sheer pleasure of keeping those nutbags out of power.

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2007 03 24 at 07:45 PM • permalink


    1. Andrea, I’m sure there are many people who can’t get to the polls for many legitimate reasons.  I got no beef with them; shi’ite happens, as they say in Bagdhad.  Although I think we treat Election Day too casually here in the states.  I would go back to treating it as a national holiday.  Close the businesses, close the schools, give the people the whole day to get to the election booth.


      For one thing, the act of not voting isn’t always due to not caring—there might not be, in the eyes of the non-voter, any viable candidates whatsoever. Not voting thus can actually be described as a kind of vote—for “none of the above.”


      ???  With all the boutique parties out there today?  I suspect a lot of these non-voters are the equivalent of the looky-loos we had out here the morning after the Northridge earthquake, walking around commenting on the way everyone else was shoveling up the broken glass and rubble without doing a damn thing to pitch in.  I didn’t have much time for them either.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2007 03 24 at 07:49 PM • permalink


    1. #12 #29 #36 As Duffy says in the article, the law (wholly unenforceable in an anonymous ballot, so some indicator of the bloody-mindedness of the whole thing) states that voters must indicate their preferences for the candidates, not just turn up on the day. A stickler for the law would do so, though I just write `Compulsory voting sucks’ on the paper in case some scrutineer notices that not everybody accepts this Australian oddity. (A stickler for the law would also have long been enrolled to vote, as that is also compulsory.)

      Aside from the Greens being too ugly a package even for a single-issue protest vote, I think Duffy was wrong to emphasise the perceived advantage to the ALP—except that that’s the reason the press barely raises the issue of the anomaly. Some states introduced compulsory voting to bring out the silent majority of conservatives in the face of the first organised party, which was good at getting out its vote. It was a bipartisan virus of the 1920s.

      He also misses the argument that voters in safe seats are even further disengaged from the political process than they are in other constituency systems because the safe candidate has no incentive to campaign intensively. Where turnout is an issue, the candidate, even if more or less safe, has to encourage voters to bother voting for him, so better representing them, or at least giving the impression that something is at stake.

      As for those dismissive of non-voters who still dare to criticise governments, I think one ought to vote, but that compulsory voting is such an obscenity that refusing to participate on such terms is a legitimate protest vote.

      Compulsory voting is especially pernicious in combination with the preferential system. You could spend your whole life contemplating a conscientious answer as to whether a Green or a Trotskyist was the sixth or the seventh unelectable candidate you preferred, and where they rank with the independent candidate who’s never canvassed you and has no media or Web profile, but that’s the kind of question our system has the arrogance to compel you to answer, even if you’re quite prepared to say which candidate you absolutely prefer.

      Posted by Andrew R on 2007 03 24 at 08:16 PM • permalink


    1. Well then, I guess I’m like those people who gawk at earthquake sites without helping, because I’ve often refused to vote because there was nothing on the ballot I agreed with and no candidate I thought was qualified. (So I guess it’s okay for a bystander to start dragging off earthquake rubble even though he doesn’t have the expertise or the equipment to efficiently clear up or help people who are still trapped, and if he or others gets killed from his inexpert help it’s better than if he just stood on the sideline watching. Because he Got Involved! Spare me.)

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2007 03 24 at 08:55 PM • permalink


    1. Not looking good for Mrs Phatty Adams’ Climate Change Coalition of Crackpots [Group F…] (looks like they’re in a few states, however, by their website).

      Looks like she’ll just have to continue farming beef cattle … a bit hard to reconcile, for an enviro-Nazi?

      Posted by egg_ on 2007 03 24 at 09:44 PM • permalink


    1. Don’t mind his radio programme, but looks like Duffy just made a duffer of himself … he was a Silent Green, after all …

      Posted by egg_ on 2007 03 24 at 09:54 PM • permalink


    1. #45, I usually scrawl ‘compulsory voting is fascism’ across my ballot paper. If I’m in a good mood, I’ll also add an extra box with a ‘1’ in it under the names of the candidates and ‘Brittney Spears’ or ‘Pamela Anderson’ next to it.

      Posted by Art Vandelay on 2007 03 24 at 10:11 PM • permalink


    1. I have to admit that the NSW Liberals silence during the election on the clearly corrupt and unpopular infrastructure projects like the Cross-City Tunnel was a little odd, and I did smell payola. I couldn’t fathom Debnam’s endless whining about the inevitable and harmless desalination plant when the ALP was much more vulnerable on other issues.

      Posted by Jim Geones on 2007 03 24 at 10:18 PM • permalink


    1. #41 Bonmot. Right. Duffy has just gone down the plughole of my estimation.
      Anyone who can write carefully about compulsory voting and then go and vote Greens must be schizoid or mindless.

      Is he a flaky Token Democrat as well as a Token non-Leftist?

      Posted by Barrie on 2007 03 25 at 01:28 AM • permalink


    1. Duffy is much touted as the token conservative at the ABC; I’ve usually found him to be at best a mild centrist, with some libertarian leanings (hence the opposition to voting compulsion, but he should have the stones to stand up for his beliefs- I haven’t voted for fifteen years, and any letter I get from the Electoral commision are replied to with an invitation to prosecute, which would allow the matter to be appealed to the High Court and the legality of compulsion put to a constitutional test. So far they’ve demurred).

      To actually enroll and then vote for the Greens and some dingbat single issue ratbag brings his positioning as a centrist into question- I think he’s been infected with the dreaded Phattyvirus.

      Posted by Habib on 2007 03 25 at 02:38 AM • permalink


    1. #26- I don’t vote because there is no party currently that represents my interests and beliefs; I still have a great interest in politics because these bastards will have a lot of influence on my life, whether I vote for them or not. I’d like to see a Swiss canton style government brought in, with seriously limited power by constitution. About as likely as me winning lotto, in succesive draws, for a fortnight, when I haven’t lodged an entry.

      BTW- I’m absolutely outraged that I have to fund these venal douchebags, so they can push me around. What sort of a jellyfish population are we that we tolerate the intrusions, extortions and idiocies of government?

      Posted by Habib on 2007 03 25 at 02:57 AM • permalink


    1. Does anyone know what the constitional implications are of a low voter turnout? Is there a requirement for a quorem or something similar in order for a party to form government?What would be the situation if enough people said fuck you to compulsory voting, and refused to elect the unelectable?

      Posted by Habib on 2007 03 25 at 03:04 AM • permalink


    1. Here in the US of course we don’t have compulsory voting, and we have “write in” candidates, a box to check with an empty line where you can write in Mickey Mouse or whoever. What gets me to the polls every time in California (and maybe a few other states) are ballot initiatives, where we can vote on actual issues, such as this one,the most famous.

      Posted by dean martin on 2007 03 25 at 03:39 AM • permalink


    1. Try this.

      Posted by dean martin on 2007 03 25 at 03:45 AM • permalink


    1. Damn wiki. Anyway, it was Proposition 13, which limited property taxes.

      Posted by dean martin on 2007 03 25 at 03:49 AM • permalink


    1. Once you’ve voted for Ronald Reagan, there’s nowhere to go but down. I cast my first vote for…drum roll please…Richard Nixon.

      Me too. Holding my nose.

      Posted by rightwingprof on 2007 03 25 at 05:48 AM • permalink


    1. That’s okay. I cast my second vote for Nixon.  I voted for Humphrey the first time, but McGovern was too much. After the fact of Watergate I don’t know.  Knowing it would happen, I might still have voted for Nixon, although this time I would have held my nose.

      Posted by JorgXMcKie on 2007 03 25 at 05:06 PM • permalink


    1. #4

      If you dont vote then you have no right to complain about government. You may as well tick the box marked “jam it up me Im too ignorant to care”

      I agree frollicking.

      Posted by kae on 2007 03 25 at 08:57 PM • permalink


    1. #23 Whale Spinor

      The so called donkey vote.

      That’s not voting, either.

      Posted by kae on 2007 03 25 at 09:07 PM • permalink


    1. I am the first time voter too. I voted for CDP, my preference went to Liberal. Who cares whether the parties receive donation from big business, as long as they have a good policy. I am an out and happy gay man, I do not agree entirely with Fed Nile’s attitude to homosexuals. But I am also a proud Islamphobia too. Muslems not only just hate us homos, they want to kill us. Yeh, there are so called moderate Muslims, but what about “moderate Nazis”?

      Posted by Sydkev on 2007 03 25 at 09:46 PM • permalink


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