Why A Double Dissolution Would Help The Christian Democrats - Hope 103.2

Why A Double Dissolution Would Help The Christian Democrats

If Australia goes to a double dissolution election, it could usher the Christian Democratic Party into Federal Parliament for the first time in history.

By Clare BruceFriday 15 Apr 2016NewsReading Time: 5 minutes

Listen: Paul Green MLC talks to Clare Chate. Above: The CDP’s Fred Nile (left) and Paul Green.

Rumours are circulating aplenty in Canberra this week, one being that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s keen to announce an election date as early as next week.

If he does – and if it’s a double dissolution – the Christian Democratic Party will be on the edge of their collective seats, in hopeful anticipation.

Why? Because such an election has the potential to get the party into Federal Parliament for the first time in history.

Why The CDP Is Hoping For A Double Dissolution

On Monday morning (April 18), perhaps better titled ‘DD-Day’, our nation’s leaders will gather in Canberra to tackle two pieces of legislation that have already failed to pass through the senate on previous votes.

“We’ve always come very, very close. If there’s a double dissolution, that allows us to pick up maybe one of those final six seats in the federal senate.”

If the bills aren’t passed, the Prime Minister has vowed to call the much-talked-about double dissolution – a rare kind of election in which Australians vote on every seat in entire Senate, instead of only half of them.

This would put 12 senate seats up for grabs in NSW, instead of only 6. And given that the CDP has come in at 7th and 8th position in previous senate elections, they could be in with a good chance for top 12 this time around.

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Paul Green MLC, one of the CDP’s Legislative Council members in NSW, spoke to Hope 103.2 to explain the maths.

“In the 2004 election Reverend Fred Nile missed out by one seat, in 2007 I missed out by one, and in 2010 I missed out by 2 positions,” he said. “We’ve always come very very close.

“So if there’s a double dissolution, then that allows us to pick up maybe one of those final six NSW seats in the Federal Senate.”

‘We Won’t Block Legislation Like Other Senators’ Says CDP

In its 29-year history so far, the CDP has only ever been represented at a state level. In NSW, they’ve got a history of helping legislation to get through the senate, albeit with amendments reflecting Christian values.

That’s why Mr Green believes a CDP senate member at the federal level would be helpful for the government, rather than a hindrance.

“What we’re seeing in the federal senate is minor parties not really working with the government of the day,” he said, “but we have a fantastic track record in NSW where we have worked with the government.

“A government can actually work very effectively with crossbench parties if they’re willing to participate with the government of the day.”

But Would The CDP Benefit Federal Parliament?

Mr Green says he’s keen to see more Christian candidates make it into the Federal arena.

“Many years ago, the Judeo Christian faith was a very very big part of Australia’s history, and more and more as progressive parties come in, that is getting diluted,” he said.

“What [being in parliament] allows us to do is, without being ashamed of it, we can bring our Christian values to the table of democracy, to make good legislation better. [The CDP’s values] is not the only worldview, but it’s a representative of a worldview held by many.”

Why The CDP And Family First Don’t Swap Preferences

Senator Bob Day

Above: Family First Senator Bob Day. Photo: SenatorBobDay.com.au

The ABC’s political writer Antony Green has said in an analysis that the new voting system will force the tiny ‘micro-parties’ to co-operate better on preferences.

“Maybe we will see one Christian morals party rather than five, one outdoor lifestyle party rather than half-a-dozen,” he writes. “A few of the egos in charge of the fractionalised micro-parties might have to start engaging in more serious negotiating with like-minded parties, over merging.”

But a merger is not likely to happen between the Christian Democratic Party and Family First – the Christian party established by Andrew Evans and currently represented in Canberra by Senator Bob Day.

The two parties have different approaches, Family First framing its legislation around helping families, while the CDP is more overt in its Biblical worldview.

So why don’t the two parties swap preferences? Paul Green says they’ve tried to do deals in the past, and failed.

“A lot of Christian parties choose not to give us a higher preference, because it would really set us up to be a bit stronger.”

“The problem is, no-one likes to lose. When you start a party, you start it to win a position. Unfortunately, to win a position in any level of state or federal government is very very hard and takes a lot of votes.

“We have tried to work with other Christian parties; Family First in particular – I know I tried very hard to work with them. But the problem for them is that we’ve contained so many votes out in New South Wales in particular, hundreds of thousands of votes, that they wouldn’t even get a look-in if we put each other as number two.

“So they would tend to put us a something like low 20s while we would put them at number 2.

“The benefit of the relationship [ends up being] all their way, because they’re trying to get a snowball vote to get across the line, whereas if they gave us number two we would quickly consume all their votes and be in the leading seat to lead a position on state or federal parliament.

“A lot of Christian parties choose not to give us a higher preference, because it would really set us up to be a bit stronger.”

A Fairer Election For Voters

Australian flag and a man placing a vote in a ballot box

If an election does go ahead any time soon, the good news for voters is that they will have more control over where their preferences fall, thanks to the recent changes to the voting system.

“People used to be able to just put a ‘1’ above the line in the Federal Senate election, or you could number all the [76] squares underneath the line,” he said. “But now you’ll be able to do 1 to 6 above the line, or 1 to 6 below the line or more if you want to choose every single person.

“That means if your first preference loses, now you’re more likely to be supporting another team that is close to your political views.”

It also means less likelihood of unknowns getting elected, like federal senator Ricky Muir, who got in because of the number of people voting for him purely because they thought he had no chance.

Paul’s Prediction For Monday

As for Monday’s much-anticipated sitting of Parliament, Mr Green said a double dissolution is likely, but it’s ultimately matter of wait-and-see.

“If the senators stay with their original opinion, my guess would be that there will be a denial of that legislation,” he said.

“And secondly I’d be thinking that Malcolm Turnbull come Monday would be very close to announcing an election—even something as early as next week. Whether it’ll be a double dissolution or just a general election, we’ve yet to see.”