THE 2016 double dissolution federal election is nearly here – Saturday, July 2 to be precise.
The Port Macquarie News has taken the opportunity to ‘unpack' the candidates vying for a position in the Australian House of Representatives (or lower house).
We’ve also provided you with tidbits of voting information including how to vote for the senate.
Meet your candidates
The Port News asked each candidate for a brief overview of why they are running for the seat of Cowper. Here are their responses in the order they appear on the ballot.
Christian Democratic Party
Wayne supports the traditional family unit – the cornerstone of any society – which is under attack. The proposition in a plebiscite on gay marriage debases the idea that a mother and father create a strong family base for children.
He also supports the dumping of the Safe Schools program following revelations that the program requires children to role play and teaches about transgenderism. The (un) Safe Schools program is all about getting into young minds and programming them to accept that the gay, lesbian and transgender way of life is mainstream.
Wayne and the CDP believe the Federal Government needs to create its own Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The ICAC will police big business and ensure that the consumers who support economic growth also have a champion protecting their interests.
“The CDP and Wayne want to uphold a free and democratic society with freedom of speech, freedom of religion and one law for all, without one section of society writing their own rules, like Sharia Law.”
Citizens Electoral Council
Michael is 54, married with a young family and operates a lawn-mowing contractor business in Port Macquarie. He said the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC) is fighting to revitalise Australia's productive industries, which are the backbone of a prosperous economy. Along with parity pricing, the CEC's immediate policy, modelled on the 1933 US Glass-Steagall Act, is to separate banking – investment from deposit taking - before the next global financial crisis, and before the banks start 'bailing-in' (skimming) everyone's bank accounts. Then, establishing a government-owned and directed national bank, where masses of new credit can be created for investment in nationally significant infrastructure development like high-speed rail; aligning Australia with China and Russia's development program of the One Belt One Road, World Land-Bridge.
Carol is a retired educator, who has lived in urban, regional and rural areas. Carol said that addressing social justice shortfalls must be a priority for the federal representative for Cowper, an electorate with one of the lowest median household incomes in Australia, high unemployment, an older and aging population, and decreasing youth access to third-level education. Carol wants a public health system without year-long elective surgery lists and long emergency waiting lists. She said that the constituents of Cowper also deserved excellent mental health facilities. Carol said that taking strong action to address the impacts of a changing climate is vital for Cowper, with its coastal towns, city foreshores and a very high rainfall feeding major rivers. She wants to create more jobs through the protection of native forests, soil and rivers and pursue renewable energy. Carol believes in sensible infrastructure spending, excellent rail services and a better NBN. She also supports local small business and industry, including local food production. “We must house our homeless and build desperately needed, well-planned public housing, accessed by a revitalised public transport system.”
Damian said he was proud to be running as the Labor candidate for Cowper at the upcoming federal election. He has lived on the NSW North Coast for the majority of his life, and as a local understands the community that he hopes to represent. Damian considers himself to be a regular person; “I practice a trade and work in the service industry”. In addition to having grown up and worked in the local area his entire working life, Damian has also served the community as volunteer firefighter. Damian is running as Labor’s candidate because he believes in delivering for our region, and claims the Nationals have taken this area for granted. “I will fight for better health, education and services delivered for our community. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but we are not getting the proper representation we deserve.”
“The $80 million Kempsey Hospital is looking fantastic, and I want to see more projects like that for the Macleay Valley.” Rob said the hospital was an important example of what can be secured by an Independent Member of Parliament, focused on, and working for you. Rob has heard all the attacks on his character from those wanting to divide the community to harvest votes for others and stands at this election in full knowledge that he’ll see that criticism dragged out again. Rob stands because he cares for the region too much to allow it to continue to be ignored. he wants to see more projects like the Kempsey Hospital and the completion of the Pacific Highway, and wants to secure more jobs and better opportunities in education for the region. “By standing, I give you the option to build a better community by seeking better representation in local and national politics.”
Luke Hartsuyker is the Federal Member for Cowper, having served as the electorate’s Canberra representative since 2001. Prior to becoming the Federal Member for Cowper, Luke managed his family’s tourism business in Coffs Harbour. He also has experience in real estate and institutional property investment and development and is a Fellow of CPA Australia. Luke previously served as the Assistant Minister for Employment, Minister for Vocational Education and Skills and the Nationals’ Deputy Leader of the House. He implemented the new $6.8 billion Jobactive employment services system with a stronger focus on getting people into work and on the needs of employers. Luke was also responsible for the development of the $330 million youth employment strategy which supports young people at high risk of long-term unemployment. While Opposition Communications Minister, he developed the Mobile Black Spot Program which has since been adopted as Federal Government policy. Luke is married to Irene, who is a teacher, and they have two sons, Ben and Paul, who are studying at university. “The Coalition is delivering more funding for health and hospitals than ever before.”
“I was born in Coffs Harbour, my grandfather first arrived from India in 1895. I am married and have four wonderful children”. John is a Coffs Harbour City councillor first elected in 2008, he also served as deputy mayor. John also runs a small catering business (Curriedaway). John wants Cowper to be prosperous. He said the region needs to be smart and use renewable technologies and support farmers and community in general. John opposes coal-seam gas fracking so that people have clean water and clean food. John said that farming counts, TAFE must be properly funded, and Gonski is gold because education counts.
John said that Medicare and health facilities must be funded and made better as health is important. He wants a federal ICAC to watch politicians, believing that honesty is important. John said that an independent could help build a wonderful nation, and without fear wants to work together with the people of Cowper. “I will represent you and your needs, let’s make Cowper marginal.”
What is the lower house?
The lower house provides a number of important functions: it determines the government, debates and passes laws, watches over government administration and expenditure, and provides a forum for public debate on issues of national importance.
What is a double dissolution election?
Voting for this year’s election will be different due to the fact it’s a double dissolution election. What does that mean? A double dissolution occurs when both the Senate and the House of Representatives are shut down (dissolved), in order for a federal election to take place. A double dissolution election is different to regular elections, when only half the Senate seats are contested.
The Coalition currently holds 90 seats and Labor 55 seats in the lower house, but following the redrawing of electoral boundaries in NSW and Western Australia, the Coalition holds a notional 89 seats and Labor 57 seats - with 76 seats representing the minimum number required to win government.
In March this year following a marathon Upper House debate, the Turnbull Government’s Bill to change how Australians elect their senators was passed. The aim was to give voters more control over their preferences … or to put it another way, the more preferences you express, the more likely a candidate you favour will be elected.
The reason it became an issue was due to the 2013 Senate election results, which saw minor parties such as Ricky Muir and his Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party elected with 0.51 per cent of the primary vote.
Do I vote above or below the line?
An important aspect of the legislative change is that group voting tickets have been abolished and preferential voting (of at least six candidates in order of preference) is now possible above the line. This will mean parties are no longer able to decide where the preferences of voters who selected them above the line will flow.
So now you have two choices: you can vote above the line, specifying your preferences by numbering at least six boxes, from 1 to 6. Or you can vote below the line specifying your preferences by numbering at least 12 boxes from 1 to 12. In both cases you can continue to number as many boxes as you like in your order of preference.
The AEC has also deemed that a voter who marks only a single tick or cross in a square above the line is taken as having written the number one in the square and their vote is counted as valid.
How will votes be counted on election night?
Election night counting occurs in the polling place.
As has been the practice at previous elections, all ordinary House of Representatives votes will be counted in the polling place on election night, providing a first preference count and an indicative two candidate preferred count.
Ordinary Senate first preference votes (excluding Senate pre-poll ordinary votes) will be counted in the polling place on election night.
Election night counting excludes postal and other declaration votes which must first undergo checks against the electoral roll (preliminary scrutiny) after election night.
How long will the Senate count take to return a result?
The Senate has always taken longer to count than the House of Representatives. This reflects the size and nature of the task and the legislative time frames for the return of postal and declaration votes to home electoral divisions. Under the previous voting rules for the Senate, final results were often not known until three or four weeks after election day.
At the 2016 federal election, the Senate count will be conducted under the new voting method for the first time. The date of the final distribution of preferences to determine the Senators-elect will be pre-publicised, as has been the practice at previous elections.
How can we follow the results on election night?
Results for the House of Representatives and Senate are posted to the AEC's online Tally Room on election night, and until all counting is completed.