Election 22 / 20 April 2022

The minor parties

We’ve talked about the major parties – who they are and what they stand for. Now, it’s time to get across the minor parties and the influence they could have on the outcome of the election. 

Casting our minds back to the 2019 election result, what was the make-up of the House of Reps? 
Ok, so 145 of the 151 seats were won by the major parties of the Coalition and Labor. That left 6 seats – 3 were picked up by the minor parties and 3 were independent candidates. 

It doesn’t sound like a lot…
No, it doesn’t but their influence on the end result and the way the resulting term of government ran far exceeds that number, and that’s because the numbers have been tight in the last couple of elections.

How did that play out? 
The Coalition had to work hard to have the numbers on the floor of the parliament when it comes to voting on legislation and to block motions from the opposition and crossbenchers to pursue its agenda. 

Let’s stay focused on the minor parties. What do you have to do to be one?
It’s an important question, thank you for asking… There are heaps of them, and you’ll notice that when it comes time to vote. But be recognised as a minor party by the parliament, you need to have more than a couple of representatives, and if you have that, you get some extra support. 

What does that look like? 
It can be as simple as a dedicated room to meet, but importantly you also get extra staff. Getting minor party status from the government of the day can be a game-changer.

Who is the biggest minor party?
That would be the Greens. They’ve been on the political scene for a while…

I know then but give me the drill…
They are a party that prioritises ecological and social justice objectives. 

And who are their supporters? 
The Greens attract support from people who are disaffected with mainstream parties and voters who prioritise environmental issues/progressive social policies.

How did they go in 2019?
Last election, the Greens received 10.4% of the national primary vote in the Reps poll, which was about on par with the 2016 result. But within that, there are some states where they got more than that.

What did that look like? 
The party’s highest vote was captured in the Australian Capital Territory (16.8%), followed by Victoria (11.9%), Western Australia (11.6%). The state where they got the least support was NSW with 8.7%. But when you boil it all down to converting that support to bums on seats in the Reps, which is where the government is formed, the Greens have just 1 member – and that’s party leader Adam Bandt who is the member for Melbourne.

And in the Senate? 
They finish the term with 9 senators representing each of our 6 states. But this time around, they are looking to use their support to influence the outcome of the election and push for a change in government. 

So just explain that a bit more… 
So the Greens aren’t going for wins across the board so they can win the election for themselves – you can’t do that when your primary vote is so low. But there is still a substantial number of voters who will put them first – and their preferences ultimately go to a winning candidate. 

That reminds me of what Coalition politicians say during an election campaign – that a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labor.
That’s exactly what that refers to. And look, we’re all free-spirited people, you can order your preferences however you want when it comes time to vote. But 8 times out of 10, a Greens votes goes to Labor before the Coalition. 

Anything else you want me to know about the Greens? 
They are under threat from independents focused on climate issues. So they’re campaigning hard to be seen as the pick for voters concerned about that issue.

It’s all happening… Any other parties left of the centre to note? 
The Centre Alliance. As the name suggests, they do have a focus on mainstream policies, but they are social liberals and prioritise issues like action on climate change and the establishment of an integrity commission. It was the Nick Xenophon Team and it changed its name. It’s a party that’s very focused on South Australian issues, and what’s interesting for them is what might happen in the senate vote in South Oz, so let’s park that for now.

Who’s their person in the House? 
Their MP is Rebekha Sharkie – she won the plum South Australian seat of Mayo in spectacular fashion from the Liberals in 2016.

And the parties that are right of centre? 
Let’s start with the Katter’s Australia Party. And there is no surprise who represents them…

Bob Katter?
Bob Katter… He’s the member for Kennedy in Far North Queensland. He’s a former Nationals MP who split from them in 2001. He’s been a politician for almost 50 years, he’s a conservative, and he’s quite a character… He doesn’t have minor party status in parliament, but he’s hopeful… 

And I’m guessing One Nation comes into this conversation? 
They didn’t have a seat in the House of Reps in the last term of government, but it’s a party that has been around for a while – essentially it’s been around since the late 1990s after Pauline Hanson made a splash as the member for Oxley.

We’d need a whole episode to get fully across Pauline Hanson’s life and times…
You sure would, but the thing to know at this point in time is that she is a senator, she’s a Queenslander, and she’s controversial.

They don’t have a seat in the Reps, but how did they go last time? 
One Nation secured 3.1% of the national vote – it’s holding steady this time around according to the polls. And in recent times, Hanson’s been focused on discontent on the response to the way Australia’s governments have handled COVID and vaccination mandates.

How’s that?
She’s been clear that she’s not an anti-vaxxer, but she believes it’s wrong to force people to be vaccinated in order for them to be able to work or go to a restaurant or the footy.

And this time around? 
One Nation has more than 50 candidates up for election for the House of Reps this time around. And Hanson herself is up for reelection for her Senate seat…

So how do they compare to Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party?
It’s a good question because they are essentially fighting for the same voter. The UAP are the yellow mob with the text messages and billboards and ads… The UAP are everywhere, and that’s because they have a massive budget thanks to Palmer’s deep pockets…

Having a mining magnate as your founder and chairman will do that… 
It also has an MP in parliament – Craig Kelly – who’s also the leader of the party. Kelly left the Liberals last year under a cloud over spreading COVID misinformation. The Liberals will be working hard to win that seat of Hughes back. And in this campaign, they are planning on running candidates in all 151 seats.

That is a massively expensive undertaking for a party with one member…
And Palmer is expected to spend more than $100 million on this election campaign. 

What’s their agenda? 
The UAP is also looking to harvest support from those who opposed the COVID lockdowns and vaccination mandates. So there will be a lot of eyes on whether there are votes in that, how that plays out with One Nation having an almost identical platform, and how that might affect support for the Coalition.

So like the Greens and Labor, will support for One Nation and UAP end up with the Coalition? 
We’ll see – but there’s one thing to keep in mind. So at the 2019 election, 85% of Greens voters preferenced Labor over the Coalition. It’s not as happy a story for the Coalition because about 65% of those voting One Nation or for the United Australia Party preferenced the Liberals/Nationals before Labor.

But are One Nation and UAP sounding supportive of the Coalition? 
Not so far… And it’s also a big question about whether their voters will be out to punish the Morrison Government over its handling of COVID. 

That’s interesting… 
All will be revealed on polling day…

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