2016 #Ausvotes: the ‘complaint box’ on immigration isn’t working

As the counting of votes in the 2 July Australian federal election approaches conclusion, we congratulate the candidates who declared their commitment to a lower rate of immigration. It was pleasing to note the increased spread of candidates and registered parties with policies to reduce immigration by one means or another.

At the foot of this post are their results as at 30 July. These results suggest that people vote to elect a government rather than devote their primary vote to a single issue – even if it’s an over-arching issue like immigration.

We tried to help by offering a non-partisan focus. We emailed our website’s REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on message to various parties and independent candidates standing on high immigration and multicultural policy related concerns but received no real feedback. From what we could observe of their platforms and concerns on-line, we found no evidence of any of them spreading the word which could so easily have informed vast numbers of similarly concerned voters across the entire political spectrum on how to help themselves by simply writing REDUCE IMMIGRATION atop ballot papers…

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party did well in the polls, and anticipates gaining three seats in the Senate. They have the advantage of having a media-created, high public profile over the last two decades. Their recent electoral revival is likely to be partly due to that factor, and partly because the electorate wanted to lodge a protest vote to express general dissatisfaction with the Coalition / Labor bipartisan status quo on a whole range of serious issues.

We also know that during the 2013 federal election campaign Pauline Hanson ignorantly and specifically rejected the RI write-on idea on the erroneous notion that it would make such votes invalid (see: https://reduceimmigration.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/setting-the-record-straight-re-origin-of-temporary-protection-visas).

This sort of know-it-all mixture of ignorance, partisan obstinacy and mismanagement has long been Hanson’s Achilles heel. There are 14 million out of 15 million voters out there to whom Hanson does not appeal. We know the majority millions of immigration sceptics are spread throughout both the major parties’ voters and the wider spectrum, and that if they knew about the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on, they’d do it.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party targeted Muslim immigration this time around because the party acknowledges nationwide concern about the socio-cultural impact of non-Western migration. By contrast, the Sustainable Australia (SA) party expressed the environmental impact and infrastructure establishment costs of high migration well, and with substantial advertising for the first time, but underplayed the socio-cultural consequences deliberately.

According to a SA party post-election email on 6 July, “Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch and Nick Xenophon ate our lunch. We had picked the right issue – immigration, on which to make big inroads. News Ltd research showed it was in the top three concerns for the Australian electorate going into the last week. Our whole campaign was tailored to catch this wave of community concern about the record immigration intake.”

The real problem was identified by Geoffrey Blainey in his landmark book, All for Australia (1984). It is well worth re-reading, both for its insights into the way governments and trade unions brought about a massive policy shift, and for the sense that little has changed over the intervening 32 years – except that migrant numbers and the diversity of their source countries have increased further, and the migrants are being settled more widely across Australia, not only in particular suburbs of capital city metropolitan areas. On pages 141-2 of his excellent book, Blainey asked ‘Where is the complaint box?’:

The newcomers have been told their rights and been given government money to set up their ethnic organizations, and told how to make their protests and express themselves. The old Australians in contrast are no longer sure what rights they possess. Their dissent is now concentrated on private talk and indignation expressed amongst friends … in the name of Tolerance, an intolerance has been imposed by those powerful respectable civic authorities coming from outside the affected suburbs.

An obvious channel for complaints against unpopular policy is the ballot box – but this is effective as a ‘complaint box’ only if the parties are well organised, their policies are framed with intelligence, and the vote is not split across myriad small groups. Since Blainey wrote, a variety of political parties and movements have attempted to harness the public concern sparked by Australia’s high net overseas immigration rate. A highlight was the Australians Against Further Immigration party (AAFI).

From 1990 to late 1996, AAFI contested three Federal Elections and nearly every by-election in between. It attracted lies and misrepresentation, but also the attention and staunch support Graeme Campbell, MHR, Kalgoorlie. In the first by-election AAFI contested on 11 May 1991, Menzies in Victoria, the AAFI vote was 6.8% (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menzies_by-election,_1991)- ‘…a creditable vote for a new and mildly controversial small party, its result close to a translatable quota in a double dissolution full senate election scenario…’ said Pru Goward when interviewing the AAFI Menzies by-election candidate on ABC radio the Monday after the election, and the 9 TV network’s 60 Minutes segment of June 1991 on AAFI’s Menzies result and consequent critique of high mass immigration presented by Jeff McMullen was informative, understanding, and supportive of AAFI’s stance. A AAFI candidate first out polled the Democrats at the South Australian Bonython by-election with 6.82% on 19 March 1994 and another AAFI candidate in the NSW Warringah by-election the next week, 26 March 1994 garnered 13.5%.

In 2016, the Australian electorate has, once again, largely bypassed the opportunity to vote for the candidates who want immigration reduced.

Would they have loved to write REDUCE IMMIGRATION atop their ballot papers on polling day if the mainstream media had had the honesty to discuss the utility of the write-on campaign? They sure would have. Do have a look at the meagre coverage we were able to squeeze for the RI write-on this time around:
https://reduceimmigration.wordpress.com/links/media-coverage-relating-to-the-campaign/

As regular readers of this site know, every election, anywhere, any level – local, state, federal – gives voters the opportunity to write the REDUCE IMMIGRATION message on ballot papers. This is a far better, real, available, extant, anonymous, quantifiable approach. It is already a powerful version of Professor Blainey’s ‘complaint box’.

If only each party and candidate supporting a lower rate of immigration would also promote the REDUCE IMMIGRATION write-on concept, then scrutineers, the media, the parties and therefore the politicians would take note of the widespread public concern and we might see improved policy action by governments.


 

Election results as at 30 July 2016

These are the candidates who stood on a ‘reduce immigration’ platform, as far as we are aware. Please contact us if we have inadvertently omitted any others.

 

Australia First

3.03%       Susan Jakobi (House of Representatives, Lalor, Vic)

2.09%       Victor Waterson (House of Representatives, McMahon, NSW)

1.46%       John Kearney (House of Representatives, Solomon, NT)

1.20%       Jim Saleam (House of Representatives, Lindsay, NSW)

0.22%       Brian McRea & Lyn Vickery (Senate team for WA)

 

Australian Liberty Alliance

6.08%       Ron Pike (House of Representatives, Farrer, NSW)

3.59%       Tony Duncan (House of Representatives, Bowman, Qld)

3.52%       John Spellman (House of Representatives, Fisher, Qld)

3.46%       Shaun Spain (House of Representatives, Forde, Qld)

2.36%       Steve Roddick (House of Representatives, Lindsay, NSW)

1.92%       Peter Kelly (House of Representatives, Bradfield, NSW)

1.88%       Rob Windred (House of Representatives, Hinkler, Qld)

1.85%       Carl Halley (House of Representatives, Macquarie, NSW)

1.80%       David Archibald (House of Representatives, Curtin, WA)

1.61%       Matt Darragh (House of Representatives, Griffith, Qld)

1.11%       Debbie Robinson & Dr Marion Hercock (Senate team for WA)

1.07%       Bernard Gaynor, Alan Biggs & Chelle Dobson (Senate team for Qld)

0.94%       Caleb Wells (House of Representatives, Longman, Qld)

0.66%       Kirralie Smith & Gary ‘Angry’ Anderson (Senate team for NSW)

0.65%       Daniel Jones (Senate candidate for Vic)

0.42%       Wanda Marsh (Senate candidate for SA)

0.33%       Tony Robinson (Senate candidate for Tas)

 

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation

20.90%     Rod Smith (House of Representatives, Wright, Qld)

19.16%     Damian Huxham (House of Representatives, Hinkler, Qld)

17.83%     Lynette Keehn (House of Representatives, Maranoa, Qld)

17.15%     Phil Baker (House of Representatives, Flynn, Qld)

15.60%     Elise Cottam (House of Representatives, Wide Bay, Qld)

15.58%     Troy Aggett (House of Representatives, Blair, Qld)

13.53%     Geoff Virgo (House of Representatives, Herbert, Qld)

13.05%     Graham Burston (House of Representatives, Paterson, NSW)

11.96%     Brenden Ball (House of Representatives, Fadden, Qld)

9.74%       Robert Pasquali (House of Representatives, Fairfax, Qld)

9.42%       Michelle Pedersen (House of Representatives, Longman, Qld)

9.14%       Pauline Hanson, Judy Smith, Fraser Anning & Malcolm Roberts (Senate team for Qld)

8.61%       Carter Edwards (House of Representatives, Dobell, NSW)

8.42%       Brad Trussell (House of Representatives, Oxley, Qld)

7.63%       Peter Rogers (House of Representatives, Leichhardt, Qld)

6.26%       Neil Smith (House of Representatives, Richmond, NSW)

4.09%       Brian Burston, Dean Mackin & Christine Bernier (Senate team for NSW)

4.02%       Peter Georgiou, Rodney Culleton & Ionna Culleton (Senate team for WA)

3.01%       Steven Burgess & Angelina Nicolis (Senate team for SA)

2.57%       Natasia Manzi & Kate McCulloch (Senate team for Tas)

1.83%       Ian Cameron & Simon Roylance (Senate team for Vic)

 

Sustainable Australia

1.05%       John Haydon & Martin Tye (Senate team for ACT)

0.69%       Chris Spike (House of Representatives, Sydney, NSW)

0.30%       Georgia Nicholls & Steven Armstrong (Senate team for Vic)

0.20%       Matt Moran & John Roles (Senate team for Qld)

0.17%       Greg Graham & William Bourke (Senate team for NSW)

 

Independents

1.18%       Diane Teasdale (House of Representatives, Murray, Vic)

0.01%       Kim Vuka (Senate candidate for Qld)