A guide to Australian politics and parties for non-Australians and also Australians too.

An American friend of mine expressed how confusing he found Australian politics and political parties. Therefore, I have produced this handy guide to our major parties that will be useful for Australians and non-Australians alike.
  • Background: how Australian government works (sort of)

Every three years, a bunch of politicians get together and everyone kind of yells at each other and says the same three words for ages. Then elections are held and whoever wins a seat is rounded up into a big paddock we generally refer to as ‘Canberra’. Then they continue to yell at each other.

We have preferential voting in Australia, which means that people develop the useful mindset of voting for the parties they least hate first, and the ones that hate most last, in a numbered list of candidates. Here’s a webcomic of this is in action featuring a sentient koala.

To win an election, a party has to win the most seats, and either form government in its own right or form a coalition minority government. We do not directly elect the Prime Minister of Australia but the party who wins government decides this by ritual of skolling schooners of beer. Therefore by extrapolation of data our best PM ever was Bob Hawke, once a world record holder for such talent.

 The 2013 election

One of these two men will be PM come Sept 7. Here’s a quick summary of them from our most trusted news provider ABC23:

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  •  The two main parties:

The Liberal Party and Tony Abbott

The center-right Liberal Party is led by Tony Abbott, who is usually accused of being stuck in the 1950s.  The official slogan of the Liberals is ‘Stop the Boats’ because Abbott came to Australia on a boat and didn’t have a good time, so now seeks revenge on all things boating. Especially boats carrying people seeking better fortunes in a far-away land like Abbott’s parents did.

Abbott is notorious for fucking up in front of the media and is usually seen as a public liability for the party, like this time where he couldn’t answer a question and just sort of nodded for a while. Or when he recently said he was not the “suppository of all wisdom”, when discussing the Liberal’s tendency to rectally extract policies.

The Liberal Party is officially owned by Rupert Murdoch and recently celebrated the first successful cloning of Tony Abbott:

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Abbott is against gay marriage but has a lesbian sister who is vocally in favour of gay marriage. This would be really ironic in anywhere but Australia as you will soon find out below.

Labor and Kevin Rudd

Labor is the centre-left party traditionally aligned with trade unions, most notably the Union of Piano Tuners.  Kevin Rudd was our PM under Labor, then Julia Gillard took over from him. Then Rudd took over again two months ago, after Rudd was forced to take direct action when his attempts to have her assassinated via vegemite sandwich didn’t quite work out. This fun game has officially ended and Rudd is now the PM, at least for the next 2 weeks anyway.

Labor are broadly criticised by the media for not being the Liberal Party and for failing to follow up on promises they make about budgets and delivering policy objectives to the millisecond. They also stand accused of being a zombie party for resurrecting former Labor Premiers (state leaders) back into the party after retirement. Rumour has it that they may have at least another 5 in cryogenic storage on standby for thawing at any moment.

The election slogan of the Labor Party is “Anything but Abbott” which is heavily in the party’s favour. However polling suggests Labor are likely to lose the election.

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Kevin Rudd is a pioneer of the ‘daggy selfie’ and is also a pretty good swearer, a true hallmark of Australian people. Kevin Rudd is in favour of gay marriage but has a homophobic christian sister against gay marriage. It sounds like I’m making this shit up but its true. She even once ‘accidentally’ dated a gay man, whoops.

  •  And some more parties:

The Greens

The Greens are an environmentalist and social democracy party led by Christine Milne. Hating the Greens is a favourite pastime of other political parties, and is in fact so popular that there is actually a minor party called Stop the Greens.  Despite this the Greens are the third most popular party in Australia in terms of votes.

The Greens basically want to convert Australia into a socialist utopia and harness the vast, untapped renewable energy resource of the heat produced by angry right-wing critics like Alan Jones:

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Look at all that untapped potential.

They also are the only party that is allowed to have emotions and to be a leader of the party you have to have been jailed for environmental activism. ( True: both the former leader Bob Brown and current leader Milne have been jailed).

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The Nationals

Essentially a country branch of the Liberal Party, no one really cares about the National Party. They are in formal coalition with the Liberals which means they just fill up seats probably and help them win elections. If you have heard of any National it’s probably Barnaby Joyce, whose name is an anagram of “ban car, bye joy.” They have a catchy jingle though. I lived in a Nationals safe-sear electorate for 19 years and all I remember is the (now retired) MP took really scary press photos.

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[image best viewed in conjunction with this video with the sound turned right up]

Katter’s Australian Party

Bob Katter was once part of the National Party (to reiterate: that no one cares about) but became an independent, and now has set up a party in his own name. Oh and this is what he looks like most of the time:

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He doesn’t really like gay marriage which is funny, because continuing the pattern from above he has a gay half-brother who has spoken out for gay marriage. Australia is weird like that. He also dislikes foreign ownership and hats that are less than 3.6 kilometres in diameter.

Palmer United Party

Clive Palmer is an eccentric mining billionaire who has commissioned the Titanic II and some weird Jurassic Park golf club. I’m not even kidding:

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Oh and then started a political party. No one really knows for sure what he plans to do if he has gets elected but based on this precedent, more real-world re-enactments of blockbuster 90s movies will likely follow.

The Sex Party

Statistically speaking, the Sex Party is Australia’s sexiest political party, as the words of their party name consists of 33% the word ‘sex’. Found on the left of the political spectrum, the Sex Party’s ideological nemesis is The Tupperware Party.

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Patten pictured with a traditional form of Australian cartography.

The Sex Party’s leader is Fiona Patten, whose main electoral pledge centres on a new piece of employment relations legislation concerning the ‘fucko’. Currently Australians enjoy short breaks called ‘smokos’ where they may have a cigarette or coffee. A ‘fucko’ would allow an employee to pop out of the office for a quickie before returning afresh.

One Nation

Pauline Hanson is a political zombiething that keeps forgetting her irrelevance. In the late 90s she rose to infamy over her fear-mongering of the upcoming ‘ASIAN INVASION’, which has truly destroyed Australia from the profusion of delicious Asian restaurants everywhere to people speaking English WITH AN ACCENT to my Asian migrant boyfriend. Anyway her party One Nation won’t go away and now Hanson is running for Senate again.

You may have heard of One Nation thanks to its star candidate Stephanie Banister, whose illustrious political career spanned an entire 48hrs. In that time, she expressed concerns over the country of Islam, and how Jews follow the teachings of Jesus christ. This earned her the well-deserved title of ‘Australia’s Sarah Palin’.

Christian Democrat Party

This party is led by serial bible thumper named Fred Nile, who believes being gay is a choice and abortion should be outlawed. Hilariously he has been saying for ages that gay marriage is wrong because the aim of ‘traditional’ marriage is to produce children. Hilarious, because this almost-octogenarian is engaged to a 50-something woman and their marriage couldn’t possibly produce children without divine intervention.

Nile has been voted ‘Killjoy of the Year’ a record 7 times now and is also that guy who always ruins a game of monopoly.

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Pictured: ‘Traditional’ marriage.

There are others parties, but I’m sure you get the point. Australian politics is a weird, weird place. You probably had a difficult time distinguishing fact from fiction in this piece. Ooops.

Anyway, wish us luck as the election rolls around.

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125 thoughts on “A guide to Australian politics and parties for non-Australians and also Australians too.

  1. I am, you are, we are Austrayyyyyyy-liannnnnn! Thank you. Awesome post. After last nights debate I felt so oppressed I thought I may never get off the couch again, but after reading this I am full of hope and optimism for a country who takes pride in taking the piss :)

  2. Please add a section about the WikiLeaks party which seemed sensible and coherent until it spectacularly self-destructed just weeks out from the election.

  3. Pingback: Oz Federal Election 2013 - Discussion and Comments - Page 620

  4. BLOODY FUNNY BUT SO TRUE, AND I AM A VERY PROUD AND PATRIOTIC AUSSIE. I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO CONFUSED ABOUT VOTING IN MY LIFE. HAVE LOST ALL CONFIDENCE IN BOTH MAJOR PARTIES AND THEIR ”LEADERS”,(THAT TITLE IS QUESTIONABLE) NOT BEING SURE ABOUT WHERE ALL THE PREFERENTIAL VOTES GO TO, ADDS ANOTHER DIMENSION TO THE CONFUSION. AND IM SURE THERE ARE MANY OTHERS WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY. GREAT POST BY THE WAY.

    • More than ever voting below the line has been the more sensible and understandable approach! Just tick those you know and like (or don’t -hate) from 1 onwards, once you are out of those you don’t hate, number backwards from the bottom those you definitely do hate… and take a punt on the rest (note: for this election most party names suggest the opposite of what they actually stand for).

      SIMPLE :~D

      • Too true, this has been my approach for many years. Take the time people, don’t let the party you put in the No. 1 spot decide where your vote goes if it doesn’t get them elected with an absolute majority. Direct it yourself! And, for a thinking person’s party, up and coming for future elections, check out the policies of the FREE Party – Facts, Reason, Ethics & Engagement – http://www.freepartyaustralia.org/ They are currently recruiting members.

    • the point the above two folks make is: preferences flow the way you want them to when you vote below the line – which is counter-logical to most Australians given the BS that the two majors go on with about preferences at the start of each election campaign (which is in fact designed to further-entrench the two majors and confuse/scare people, like yourself, away from voting for minor parties with confidence), see: http://www.belowtheline.org.au, and http://chickennation.com/website_stuff/cant-waste-vote/web-700-cant-waste-vote-SINGLE-IMAGE.png

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  6. Fantastic – thanks for bringing some great humour into this tedious, depressing and completely incomprehensible election. Maybe someone should start the: ‘Take the, drink the and excrete the piss’ party.

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  8. Pingback: A guide to Australian politics and parties for non-Australians and also Australians too. | Purplesus' Blog

  9. At the time Julai Gillard was abruptly kicked out of leadership by KRudd, a columnist in our Canadian “Globe and Mail” newspaper, Jeffrey Simpson, wrote a vedry good article about it entitled “A Very Australian Coup”.
    And with Gillard’s ousting, Australian no longer had a “First Bloke” …

  10. I never vote for Political Parties because they ignore the people and do AS TOLD TO by their party leaders. I ONLY VOTE FOR INDEPENDENTS because THEY are the only parliamentarians who find out the wishes of their constituents and try to fulfil the wishes of the majority OF THEM – TRUE REPRESENTATION BY THE PEOPLE WHO WE PUT INTO GOVERNMENT TO TRULY REPRESENT US ! ! !

  11. yeah, what a ‘wonderful’ choice of parties we have to vote for I think I’ll find myself an uninhabited island somewhere and forget about it…….

  12. Sometimes I am actually glad my father decided to emigrate in 1949 from the UK to the US instead of Australia..He was given a choice but Perth was a land too far and Melbourne even further. As I live in California, I have not missed out on a suntan and the Asian restaurants are better.

    We have our loonies tunes too. Sarah Palin and Rick Perry, North Dakota, Fox News (Murdoch again). The only real problem is that I live in a country that can/has actually do some damage to itself and the rest of the world.

    Ken Adams
    Walnut Creek California

  13. Rocks – i am Australian but i hadn’t heard of the Sex Party! I also didn’t know about the gay marriage brethren correlation index was so inverted

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