Here at the Spectator Australia Electoral Reform Unit we are pressing on with our major project to improve the electoral process and the laws that govern it. So vast is this project that we have had to expand its ambit to include not just regular elections, but referenda, plebiscites, and opinion surveys as well. Fortunately, our work received a major boost from the US presidential election (and a helpful grant from the Hillary Clinton Global Initiative for Progressive Democracy) which enabled us to identify several notable reforms that have now been accepted by all recognised scholars. The most significant reform was that if the progressive side loses an election, there should be an automatic recount, under which the votes of the vulgar and uneducated are ignored in making a proper assessment of how responsible people would have voted had they been the only voters. That reform grew from the seminal work of Amanda Vanstone which showed that a truer picture of Malcolm Turnbull’s victory was obtained by adding the votes of those who would have voted for him, had the electoral boundaries been drawn in a more responsible manner. Then there was the reform that if the voters were taking part in an electoral college poll and they knew they were, but the progressive side lost, it should nevertheless be declared the winner if it won the popular vote, as such a result more accurately reflects the true intention of the electorate. Then there was the significant reform that it is not misleading or deceitful for celebrity supporters to declare ‘If we lose, I am moving to Canada.’ This reform means they no longer have to follow through on their promise literally or, as they say in the Fairfax media, per se. You have to draw the line somewhere and most responsible observers would agree that it is best drawn this side of Canada, on the same principle that is good to have SBS television, provided you do not have to watch it. Finally, our painstaking research has found that if all else fails, the vote can be negated if you assemble with like- minded adherents in New York, burst into tears, and cry ‘He’s not my president.’ Not surprisingly, the survey on same-sex marriage is also yielding up its own rich harvest of potential reforms. We can but give you a few examples here, but we are confident they will all be accepted by responsible citizens in general.
First, our work has already established a principle that will become the touchstone for all future polls. It is quite simple: if ‘Yes’ wins, that is an end of the argument and both sides must accept the result without complaint. And forever. If, however, ‘No’ wins, it means nothing, as the ‘Yes’ side was opposed to the survey and cannot be bound by such a result. Moreover, after a brief hiatus, campaigning will resume until the ‘Yes’ case obtains its well-deserved success.
It follows that should the Yes side lose, despite clear evidence that it should have won, there must be further consecutive surveys conducted until the correct result is achieved. Some arch reactionaries have poured scorn on this reform, but are clearly ignorant of the evidence that the value of successive ballots has been amply demonstrated by the EU where, after initial stumbles, persistence has eventually produced the right result.
Then, a further reform has been proposed to avoid that undignified situation in which Hillary Clinton found herself after her unexpected defeat last November and was obliged to ask: ‘What happened?’ Fortunately, it is now clear that the present survey is too much stress and strain for many voters and there is no shortage of mental health experts who will say so. Thus, should ‘Yes’ lose, the result must be ignored, as most of the electorate were incapable of expressing a rational opinion at the time.
The converse is equally true, of course, and will be embodied in another reform. As the bigots who are opponents of marriage equality are such, well, bigots, they will not be permitted to speak against marriage equality, now or in the future. In any event, the Attorney-General has arranged for the Solicitor-General to give an opinion that, whatever the rights of bigots might have been in the past, anything a bigot says on this subject today will clearly come within the definition of ‘vilification’ and be banned.
There will also be a complete embargo on informing the people how any undesirable consequences of implementing same-sex marriage will be avoided, particularly those relating to human rights. Fortunately, the Treasurer has validated this approach for, as he says, the federal government is not a clairvoyant and, with its lamentable record in economic predictions, how could it be expected to know anything about the future? Accordingly, this momentous reform will be embedded in an Act to be entitled The Marriage Equality Implementation (Blank Cheque) Act 2017, a truly momentous reform in itself, and one which has already been praised by most members of the UN Human Rights Council.
Finally, to show that we listen to grass roots opinion, we have adopted a reform proposed in the Age by Ms Elizabeth Long, who is rightly alarmed at the contribution to the debate being made by Mr T. Abbott, as he shows all the signs of influencing a significant number of people to vote the wrong way. Ms Long’s commendable suggestion is that media reporting be accorded to those with whom she disagrees, but only on a sliding scale ‘based on the value of their contribution.’ We concur. We are also contacting Ms Long in the hope that she will offer her services as the sole arbiter of the value of all contributions made to the debate.
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