Primaries for Australia (or NZ)?

An interesting article yesterday on the ABC website by Robert Simms, Robert has a background with the Greens here in Australia, but this article is pretty balanced.

Robert talks about the idea often bantered around about having American styled primaries, I recommend reading his full article, you can find it here

Adopting US-style primaries for candidate preselection would certainly smash the business-model of the ‘faceless men’. But it would also accelerate the trend towards populism in Australian politics, writes Robert Simms.

As the ALP battles to wrest control from the ‘faceless men’ of its party machine, Labor leaders from Steve Bracks to Mark Latham have argued for the co-option of US-style primaries.

While US elections may appear to be the ultimate festivals of democracy, all that glitters is not gold and we must be wary of embracing an alternative political system that is far from perfect.

In fact, primary-style pre-selections would radically change our democracy.

I have often thought having primaries would help increase interest in politics and get the feeling of excitement back in politics

The political parties themselves reflect this culture and the Democrats and Republicans are practically independents who freelance on policy issues but share a party banner. Rather than being preselected by their respective party machines, candidates are selected directly by the people via primaries. The result swings the pendulum away from the parties in favour of the electors.

Giving the people the power to select their own party candidates would certainly smash the business-model of the ‘faceless men’, but what would it mean for our democracy?

In the US primary system a candidate doesn’t just need to convince the men and women of their party to vote for them, they need to mobilise party supporters across their state or district. This requires money and lots of it.

A successful candidate therefore has to curry favour from a variety of corporations and special interest groups – the NRA is a case in point. Such a system reorients the politician away from ordinary voters towards those who shout the loudest. While Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart would no doubt salivate at the prospect of choosing their own ‘Manchurian candidates’ most Australians would baulk at this kind of corporate influence.

I am a big fan of the old series ‘The West Wing’, in fact I have it on series link of Foxtel and watch it religiously. One thing I would hate to see is big companies ‘owning candidates. Robert is right, the whole world sees the power the NRA has over the US and it is pretty hard to digest.

A very good article, like I said before, I recommend reading it all




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