australian voting system

How The Australian Voting System Works with Mark Boothman

Australian Voting System
Mark Bootman Member for Theodore

Australian Voting System

Pete: (00:08)
Hi, I’m Pete George. And welcome to this episode of the Pete George show, where we are gonna be talking about politics, but not politics as such. We’re gonna be speaking about the political system and how it works in Australia, but we have a very special guest, the member for Theodore in Queensland. Mark. Boothman welcome to the show mark. Ah,

Mark: (00:30)
Thank you, Peter. It’s great to be here. Thanks.

Pete: (00:32)
Thanks once again. So you have got fairly decent size, uh, electorate here in Queensland have Theodore. And so how long have you in a member of Theodore?

Mark: (00:43)
Well, uh, it’s been over nine years almost coming up to 10. So, uh, certainly been doing the job for quite some time now and, uh, yeah, certainly understand, uh, the political process and, uh, how things work and don’t work. Yeah.

Pete: (00:56)
So the Australian system what’s that based on, so people can get a good feel real for it.

Mark: (01:02)
Well, the Australian system of, uh, government, um, is based on the British systems from the west minister system. So it’s a system of government, which, um, uh, was developed back in the old, uh, country of, uh, England. And it’s a system which is fundamentally a quite robust, uh, parliamentary system, which does give, um, a lot more accountability than, uh, a lot of upper top governments around the world.

Pete: (01:30)
Yeah. And that’s one of the beauties like you have a look at them, I don’t like saying it, but the mess over the last, what, four and a half years in the United States, and you don’t see that here, you, there’s no chance that you’d ever see a mess like that.

Mark: (01:46)
Yeah. Well, with the Australian system under the Westminster system, the executive is accountable to parliament. They have to be elected officials, whereas in us, um, they are disappointed by the president.

Pete: (01:58)
Okay. So is there any difference between states territories and the federal system?

Mark: (02:06)
Yeah, so, um, we have a very interesting system over here. We’ve, um, we are a Commonwealth of, uh, states that, um, retain an enormous amount of power. So the, to get the states who agree originally back in, uh, 1901 to become a Federation, uh, the states want to retain most of their powers over each and each and individual states and therefore, um, yeah, it certainly does cause a lot of confusion out there because a lot of residents think that the prime minister can come in and say to a state, you gotta do this and you gotta do that. And amazingly though, he doesn’t have the power to,

Australian Voting System

Pete: (02:44)
And COVID sort of brought that out. And this is one of the reasons why I wanna talk about this, cuz people are starting to, if you look on social media saying, oh, we want to get rid of the two major parties, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But as we get further into this, I think people understand that it’s not that easy to get rid of the major parties, but I think there needs to be something done with the state parties. That’s just a personal opinion, but so Queensland’s a little bit different, but we’ll, we’ll talk about it in general and what are the roles of the upper house and the lower house?

Mark: (03:21)
Okay. So the lower house is the literacy of assembly in the states or, or the house of representative federally. Um, when it comes to the upper house, that’s the, obviously the, uh, Senate federally and the counts literacy of councils in the states. So the upper house is a house of review. So it’s designed to you the legislation coming through the, uh, house of representatives or the legislate, uh, councils.

Pete: (03:44)
So one of the nominally though, and I think we’re, I think we’re the only state Queensland not to have a legislative council or an upper house. Yes, that’s correct. Okay. So what does that gives the party and power, the power to do,

Mark: (04:05)
Um, what that means? You’ve got no house of review and therefore whoever controls the lower house in Queensland has absolute power.

Australian voting system

Pete: (04:14)
So there’s no, there are no checks and balances, no checks and balances. So with everything that happens in relation to, and, and a lot of people would’ve seen this in the news. So it is a, a news point, uh, with the way the hospitals are at the moment and have been for many, a long time and ramping of ambulances and things like that. There’s no cross balances, nothing that no one can do other than stand there and stamp up and down like David, Christopher, who’s the opposition leader. He’s got some documents out there today that shows how bad it’s all going, but there’s nothing an opposition technically can do. And there’s no one to stop anything that can happen.

Mark: (05:02)
Yeah. So the, so unfortunately in our system in Queensland, unlike the other states, uh, we don’t actually have that house of review to actually add that check and balance. So for instance, as an example, what we’ve done in Queensland, we’ve actually said in a committee system, but fundamentally the committee’s system really is powerless. It makes recommendations, but, um, there’s a casting vote from the committee chair. And therefore that just means that whatever the government actually recommends for the committee, um, will be accepted by the committee. Same if the opposition strongly objects to what’s actually happening. So you normally have, as an example, you normally have three government members and, uh, three opposition or one crossbench and two opposition, unfortunately, because the chair is a government member, they get the casting vote. So no matter what, um, it’s going to be in favour of the government.

Pete: (06:01)
Yeah. So in layman’s terms, you probably hear, um, especially in federal politics that they’ll read a bill and then that’ll go through, then it’ll go up to the upper house. The upper house will read that bill, make amendments, bring it back until every party basically had some sort of say in it. And, but with Queensland, it’s just gung ho. So if they let’s take for, for example, the 20, 32 Olympics, now they’ve won that. Now they can spend whatever they like between now and getting to that Olympic stage and no one can stop ’em basically.

Mark: (06:42)
Yeah. So it, the, the main issue though, is, um, in Queensland, unlike the other stage, because you don’t have that check and balance, you don’t actually have that other input and the other ideas. So for instance, the government has, as I said, has unfitted power

Australian voting system

Pete: (07:03)
And that’s to me, that’s like, I, I grew up in Victoria and we had the upper house, the lower house. And when we first moved up here in 2004, there was a big shock that there was no accountability for either party. Doesn’t matter whether it’s liberal or labour whoever’s in power has that, that power. And to me, it’s just frustrating. And a lot of people don’t, um, understand that. I don’t think when you start looking at Queensland politics, that a lot of people just don’t understand the nuances about that and the consequence to it, like we live in the, or the, or as the Northern gold coast. So if people overseas are in a state, if you’ve been to Queensland and you’ve been to the tho parks, that’s where we are. Yes. And we’re the largest, or the fast, this growing corridor in Queensland. And the project for the M one to be widen has been on the books forever. It was promised at the last federal election. And now I think we’re up to the fifth or sixth incarnation of it. And it looks like the cost is blowing out and it probably won’t happen.

Mark: (08:19)
Yeah, it it’ll go ahead. The, the issue is the government will have to find the extra money for it. But, um, going forward though, one of the biggest problems we’ve actually had in Queensland for many years is forward planning. We haven’t been forward planning our road infrastructure and our transport networks and for any economy to be a flourishing economy, we need to ensure that, um, we can get our goods from a, to B very efficiently. And yesterday I actually put a question on notice about the Southern, uh, road. Well, sorry, Southern transport corridor. The Southern transport corridor is an East West corridor. And I’m gonna start pushing that now because the issue is okay. Yes, the KU connector they’re slowly progressing that, but we also need an EastWest corridor to connect the gold coast to Southern Logan city out to its which yep. That would create a, almost been a job opportunity. And also for our local tradies who are working out in those areas would have their travel time.

Australian voting system

Pete: (09:23)
Yeah. Well, last night and it was an absolute tragedy at lunchtime yesterday. There’s a, a, a serious accident on Brisbane road. And, uh, Jane, my wife, she left work at five o’clock and it was still blocked. She rang me at five 30 and she was just on the other side of Harbor town. And there’s no nowhere to go. And this is, and, and from just travelling Australia, a lot of the cities have this problem of forward planning on, on transport, but we can do that on another show and get further, further, deeper into it. But in Australia, we have the preferential system, uh, of voting. So how does that work and what does it influence? Um,

Mark: (10:16)
One thing. Okay. So you’ve got, um, in some countries, uh, you’ve got, um, just vote once for one individual. Um, in Australia, you’ve actually got a preferential system where you have to mark every single box. So mark the boxes of every candidate, um, to who you deem appropriate. Um, it seems a lot of people I know don’t particularly like it that much, um, because, um, as they would say to me, well, we only know one person, one of the candidates, he’s the person I wanna vote for. She’s the person I wanna vote for. And therefore, um, why should we have to mark all these other boxes?

Pete: (10:57)
Yeah. It’s, it’s frustrating because when you get down to it and, you break it all down. Um, and this is another area that has gotta be, uh, I think a factor in the next federal election is that where those preferences go from the party, not so much from the person voting, um, for instance, they might not want to get, um, liberals back in. So they might go to a minor party, which when you look on social media, is where a lot of people want to go. And for me, if you do that in the lower house, so where your prime minister sits and all the treasurers and everything, if you don’t think about it down there there’s a consequence. Whereas if you go to a minor party in the Senate, that’s a different Kell fish because if you go say one nation, one nation’s preferences normally go to normally not all the time, but they normally go to the liberal party greens, we all know to go to labor. And I don’t think people understand that even though, you know, those, um, parties, a lot of the smaller parties preference out as well. So, um, what can be the major consequence if you don’t think about where your mark,

Australian voting system

Mark: (12:29)
So one of the main issues that, uh, voters need to, uh, realize also that, uh, if you do vote for a minor party, um, and that individual, as an example gets up in the Senate, um, they will have, uh, certain views that, um, uh, you are unsure of in the future, in, in the respect that they may come up with some ideas that you would be opposed to yet you have given them that vote. And also too that, um, it does slow down good legislation to go through the parliament because um, governments have to negotiate with those minor parties. And a lot of the times those legislation to be, um, uh, rechecked or, um, modified, which would mean, uh, that potentially there would, um, additional funds for a certain electorate. And many years ago, we actually had a, um, a period of time where in the, I believe it was the Gillard period, we had three independents and um, one of the members, um, in, uh, Northern new south Wales, he was getting so much money spent on his electorate, um, simply to buy his vote.

Pete: (13:41)
Yeah. And that’s, that’s the frustrating thing from it when it’s like, I, I don’t mind people like one nation, um, Jackie Lamby down in Tasmania, they’ve been there a long period of time and, and they, they sort of get the idea of what they’re trying to achieve. Whereas if you get the rural small parties and we see that in Victoria and their upper house, some of the parties they’re really, really weird and they do buckle because someone says, oh, we’ll give you some money into your electorate. And I think that’s the danger. Whereas the danger for me in the lower house is that you may think you might be voting the right way, but the way the preferences will roll out that the party that you don’t want to get in may get in and, and that’s, which normally happens. Yeah. And that where, um, uh, I’ll probably get shot. I mention in his name on the podcast, but Paul Murray, um, is adamant about, you know, voting discipline, whether you vote labor or, or if you lean labor or if you lean liberal, understand the ballot

Mark: (14:53)
Paper. Yep.

Pete: (14:54)
And the preferences and the preferences, how they, how they go. Cause not, uh, unlike a lot of countries around the world, we have compulsory voting. So it’s something you gotta do. And I just get, it’s just something about me, but I just get a little bit frustrated when people get a bit bla at the, their votes and it’s, it’s frustrating. So, um, we mentioned it earlier, but why don’t we have the first pass of the post? Um, cause we had it here in Queensland for a while where you could just tick number one and whoever you wanted to represent you in that. Yeah.

Mark: (15:32)
It was optional preferential voting. Um, that was changed, um, a few years back, uh, because it was politically expedient at the time for the, um, the government, um, which would mean, which was designed to actually hurt the opposition, which I’m a member of. Yep. Um, at the time. So, um, I’m fortunately again, that brings in the problem with the Queensland, uh, parliamentary system because we have no upper house to potentially stop that.

Pete: (16:01)
Yeah. So, but in the, um, I don’t know how the, to me, I don’t know how the, um, territories work, I think they’re they’re uh,

Mark: (16:15)
Yeah. So you’ve got, uh, like as an example, we’ve got, um, some voting systems in Australia, which is the hair Clark system, which is you get a lot of amount of, um, a certain amount of members per, um, per seat, so to speak. Um, whereas our system is based, um, heavily on the individual electorate has, um, a certain amount of population and only a few years ago we actually increased our, um, parliamentary members to, uh, 90, uh, was it 93, 93? And the reason being is our populations were getting bigger and bigger and they felt, um, they needed to, uh, ensure that there was a bit more, uh, re-representation, especially for the smaller electric areas.

Pete: (17:00)
Yeah. And the, the reverse has happened. The population’s gone outta Northern territory and they gotta lose the seat. So it all swings and balances, but yeah, it’s just one of those things. It, you know, I think a lot of people would prefer just to be able to walk in there on voting team, go that’s the person I want. And that’s it. So in a, in a, say a hypothetical in the, um, just the one-vote system, how does that then get shifted into preferences for that person? So say for instance, um, this electorate, uh, someone voted for someone that wasn’t attached to a major party. Yep. Does that vote then shift to someone else or it just doesn’t get counted.

Mark: (17:50)
Okay. So for instance, if it was a purely, um, uh, uh, first passer post, uh, vote, it would mean that there would be no preference taken over okay. To the next

Pete: (18:03)
Person. So yep. That’s, that’s a smarter system.

Mark: (18:07)
Yeah. So that’s what the, um, in the UK, they actually run that type of system.

Pete: (18:11)
Yeah. And, um, which

Mark: (18:13)
Gives a good indication of exactly what the people want in that area though. They wanna vote for a certain, certain individual or a local party and no preferences are distributed.

Pete: (18:25)
Yeah. because then that’ll sort of it out some of them, what I call insignificant parties that shouldn’t be in politics, but that’s my point of view. So, um, for people that dunno Australia’s broken up into, I normally get this wrong, its six states and two, two territories and um, the territory sort to me, they don’t seem to, I don’t know why they’re to, to be honest, still territories, but that’s

Mark: (19:00)
Yeah. It’s something that, um, uh, some time ago there was a, um, discussion in, I believe it could have been, um, just going by memory. Um, there would’ve been a referendum, I believe with the, uh, Northern territory, which they, um, opted to stay as a, um, territory.

Pete: (19:16)
True. Yeah. Not a state. So I hope everybody sort of gets a bit better understanding of how the system works will do a few more shows leading up somewhere between now. And it may, I think it is year there’s gotta be a, a federal election. Um, you can pop onto our podcast, uh, site and leave messages there. If you’ve got any questions, political, uh, there’s a couple of blokes in the area that I know that will probably be able to answer for you. So the best place to do that is at podcast dot Pete, george.com. But, uh, mark, if someone’s got a question for you, what’s the best way for them to get in contact with

Mark: (19:58)
You? Um, certainly give my office a call or Ryan send us an email and uh, I’ll get, I’ll send you all those details so you can post someone your, um, on

Pete: (20:06)
The post. Yeah.

Mark: (20:07)
So that’s

Pete: (20:07)
Information. Once again, I know Mark’s very, very busy. If you ever wanted a politician to work for your, your electorate. Mark’s one of those he’s, uh, he responded to me at one o’clock in the morning. He’s always responded to his, um, messages and things like that, which is great. Uh, he’s always out at community events and he never stops trying to help the area. Like for instance, he’s, he’s forever putting what are those on, on notice messages on notice? Yeah. Questions on notice, questions on notices and things like that to better the area. Um, but there is one, um, question that I will get into a political side of things. And a lot of people have sort of mentioned it in the area and everything like that is the lack of police in our area.

Mark: (21:01)
Yeah. Well, that’s certainly, a bugbear of mine. Um, we desperately need, need more police. Um, at the moment there’s a lot of police down on the border, um, which is, um, restricting the number of offices we actually have up here at the moment. And, um, we’ve got hooning situations. We’ve got, um, drag racings along, uh, reserve road, um, out the back of tambourine, um, TA Knox road, um, Marson road, um, D drive. It is

Pete: (21:28)
Everywhere. Yeah. We, we are in a perfect foreign line where we leave, but, but yeah, it’s, uh, it’s frustrating. Um, you know, like you, you can’t keep on for me, you can’t keep on using covers as an excuse. There’s gotta be a point in time where you’ve gotta, uh, go back to the job that we’re the people paying people

Mark: (21:51)
To do. Well, I think the other thing too is, and I find as well, lot of residents, they’re sick and tired of, um, the system allowing individuals who commit crimes, um, they’re sick of lenient, sentencing, they’re sick of, um, people not taking for our own actions. And that’s something that does desperately need to change in our state because, um, as we see on the TV on a regular basis, you’ve got broken enter, you see it on Facebook, you see these individuals who literally just laugh

Pete: (22:24)
At the law. Yeah. And it’s, um, I think it’s a, a problem globally now. Uh, it’s not just here, you know, little neck of the woods, but it’s, uh, a global issue. But once again, mark, I really, really appreciate your time. I think I’ve taken a little bit more than we wanted to, but, that thing happens, but yeah, I just hope that, uh, yeah, everybody got something from that little chat with mark and, uh, hopefully, we can get Mark and talk about a few more, more local topics and if you’re free and you are happy to talk, we can talk a little bit more when we get closer to a federal election and, uh, have a chat about a few issues on that. Happy to all right, mark. Well, thanks once again and go and enjoy your day.

Mark: (23:17)
All right. Thanks For having me.

Australian Voting System

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