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Byron Shire
April 13, 2024

Make it your preference to not waste your vote

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NSW upper house voting guide for the pragmatic progressive

The local candidates get most of the attention in the leadup to an election, but the Legislative Council (NSW Parliament’s upper house) also warrants some scrutiny, so here’s a quick primer on the other lot we get to vote for on 25 March.

By going in prepared you can arm yourself with all the knowledge you need to ensure your vote isn’t one of many that will be unwittingly exhausted and wasted, and that you don’t get tricked by a sneaky group with a pleasant sounding name.

There is a rare, real opportunity for the balance of power in the upper house to shift to the side of progressives at this election.

There is a rare, real opportunity for the balance of power in the upper house to shift to the side of progressives at this election. The last thing any of us needs is some bigoted wack job scraping in by just a handful of votes after much of the progressive vote was exhausted. Since you’re there casting your vote anyway, it would be a crying shame to waste it!

Members of the Legislative Council are elected for eight-year terms, and half of the seats are decided each election cycle. So this time around we will be choosing the replacements for MLCs elected in 2015, and those we elect will be around for a long time to come.

It’s a proportional representation system with a rather small quota, which opens the door for groups to secure a seat with a pretty small percentage of the vote. It’s also an optional preferential system, and there are quite a few groups to choose from, which will lead to many exhausted votes. Unless you are diligent with your preferences, the danger of a wasted vote is very real.

The winners of the first 18 or so of the 21 available seats up for grabs are pretty predictable. Where things get interesting is those last few seats. There is no way to predict who will edge ahead in the race for those last few spots. What is certain is that it will be distributed preferences that decide the result.

The only way for your vote to count at that key final preference distribution is if you’ve included enough preferences to cover the last actual two groups left in the race. There is no way to predict which group of awful monsters might be up against which not-so-shit group for that precious last spot, so roll up your sleeves and preference all the way. Don’t get lazy or complacent and vote just for your favourites. Keep going for as long as it takes, put every single piece of political deadweight after anyone who is even moderately less shit.

Now that you’re resolved to not waste your vote, you need good intel on the groups. You’ve come to the right place! Herewith is The Echo’s NSW upper house voting guide for the pragmatic progressive. Naturally opinion on the precise order and what exactly constitutes being ‘not shit’ or ‘shit’ will differ. So feel free to disagree and rearrange this list as you see fit. Please, just inform yourself, and go in with a plan.

We recommend that you put all of the ‘not shit’ groups in your preferred order ahead of the ‘too out there’ groups, and keep going through the ‘shit’ groups until you can no longer distinguish the least vestige of humanity.

For those of you who want to vote below the line and for the ungrouped candidates, we applaud your enthusiasm! But for all practical purposes, voting comprehensively for the above the line groups is enough to ensure that your vote will not be exhausted.

Ziggi Browning,
Echo production manager

• The below guide can also be downloaded as a PDF.


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    • Don’t waste your vote on the Greens, they can’t get any of their policies enacted without a Labor Govt in power, and can’t even get elected without Labor preferences, make your vote count vote 1 Labor.

      • Wrong.
        The Greens are possibly going to have the balance of power in a potential minority Labor government and will then be able to get some of their policies through in bargains with Labor. If you want cannabis reform vote Green and preference just Labor in the Lower House particularly if you are voting in Lismore electorate

        • Right.
          Why would any sane person bother voting for a party that struggles to maintain discipline, and “possibly” “might” have the balance of power in a Labor minority Govt and then “possibly” “might” get “some” of their policies through in bargains with Labor? The Labor Party might just “possibly” ignore them and do deals with other crossbenches that are less ill-disciplined and radical. Vote Labor and get real value for your vote, don’t waste it on the Greens.

  1. Thanks, Ziggi, for that useful upper house summary.

    For the lower house in my (new) electorate, I have the exciting (not!) choice of an unimaginative Labor offering and two independents: one mildly loony and the other seriously subliterate and ultra-loony.

    I think the Japanese have the right idea: they have eRections.

    • So the Japanese are White enough for you to make racist jokes about how you believe they pronounce English words?

      • But she was elected on the greens platform. It’s difficult when you have more than a few members elected and the greens have discovered this problem and have shown they put perfection before good policy.

        • Christian, I have never read an election article that has so much hate, bias and name-calling in it.
          Divided countries seldom last very long, historically speaking.
          So no wonder Putin and Xi have both decided to strike our ‘progressive’ global warming weakened West now.

  2. Wasting your vote is inevitable given there are no candidates who really want to treat the climate emergency like an emergency

    • What if I want the Earth to be like it was in the early Carboniferous period? Who do I vote for to get the CO2 levels that would require?

  3. The only party that can defeat the LNP Coalition anywhere is the Labor party, if they don’t get enough votes, the LNP win.
    It’s as simple as that. If you feel you must vote for one of these minor party’s, you must and I stress this, you must, give the Labor party your second preference or you will be voting for another 4 wasted years of the LNP sell offs. And another 8 years of the LNP obstructionists controlling the upper house, with the LNP preference swap favourite the Hanonista One Nation opportunist obstructionist troglodyte Mark Latham!
    “PREFERENCE VOTING IS THE KEY TO DEFEATING THE LNP”! Labor has preference Greens 1st in both lower and upper house, please do the same in return, it’s the only chance the Tweed has to remove the LNP!

  4. Grow a brain and put greens last, vote 1 nationals and liberals. Do you guys want a sustainable economy and country to live in?

  5. Climate change exists for a reason, dont try change the course of nature.
    Rather worry about things that actually keep you alive, sadly we need money for food and water. So we need jobs and money.
    Vote 1 LNP

    • Jeremy, we all need jobs and money to live, but we also need a sustainable future on a habitable planet, think of your kids future, the way the Coalition was going our descendants were not going to have either, Labor in Govt is the only future.

      • an unlike this biased summary of the parties Labor voting cards were 1 Labor; 2 Greens 3. Sustainable Australia Party Similarly the Greens how to vote cards that I saw. Ziggy Browning has the Party’s immigration policies wrong, it doesn’t oppose immigration, is not anti immigration, however it advocates a sustainable level. where infrastructure and services can keep up and the loss of bushland and good agricultural land is not cleared on mass for huge residential developments to house the million new migrants Labor is bringing in over the next 2 years.

    • What keeps us alive is the biosphere — that’s where our food and water actually come from, not money; money is just a medium of exchange invented by humans.

  6. Disgraceful and appalling Echo.

    Sustainable Australia Party has a broad sustainability-based policy platform. Your smear is typical of a politically-motivated misinformation campaign on social media, that SAP is somehow simply “anti-immigration” (or worse!) – which of course is false.

    When it comes to media coverage, SAP is either smeared like this by politically biased lower level publications (Crikey, Echo, etc), or completely ignored by the major players in order to stop broader public awareness (i.e. SMH/Age, ABC, Guardian, News Ltd).

    If bias and misinformation is ‘progressive’, what hope do we (and our environment) have? An apology is in order to the party.

    • I would vote Green in a heart beat if they had a logical policy on population and immigration, but they can’t even talk about it. Not sure how they think they can save the planet when humans are trying to over populate it into extinction. SAP has lots of logical policies which other parties would adopt if they weren’t beholding to their donors. SAP have the courage to talk about immigration, unlike any of the major political parties, who just use it as an economic tool. This leaves them vulnerable to cheap shots from uninformed journos like Ziggi Browning. We will never have good government for the people and environment untill we ban political donations.

  7. Sustainable Australia Party is not and has never been anti-immigration.

    Sustainable Australia Party has always been opposed to unsustainable high and growing population levels because of the environmental damage this does.

    Sustainable Australia Party is focused on saving our environment (and therefore ourselves) by living and working within safe environmental limits which means limiting excessive consumption; to limit consumption while maintaining a reasonable quality of life we must limit our population.

    When we accept that Australia can’t have a continually exponentially growing population, and that there is a limit to how many people Australia (and Earth) can sustainably support, we also accept that we must limit the growth of our population.

    As most of Australia’s population growth comes from immigration the only way to achieve a stable population size is to limit, but not necessarily halt, immigration.

  8. SAP is a great party with good people but it is an uphill battle taking on vested interests, ie the property industry, who have deep pockets to fund their agenda.


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