As much I would like to see many more independents within our parliaments, I’m concerned our voting system in NSW doesn’t give true independents the opportunity to make their independence clear.
In the federal election Independent candidates are able to issue a ‘how to vote’ card that simply says, “Please give me your Number One vote, then make up your own mind on your preferences after that, making sure you fill in every square.
It is compulsory to fill in every square in a federal election, but in the NSW (and QLD) election you only have to place a Number One next to the candidate of your choice, although you can also number second, third and fourth etc. preferences if you wish.
There’s far more opportunity in the state election system for parties to support so-called ‘independent’ candidates, sometimes by running only token candidates of their own because the party ‘brand’ is on the nose whether it is Liberals in western Sydney or Labor in the bush.
There’s no perfect voting system, but I don’t think NSW is anywhere near it. The best message for voters is “Voter Beware”, ignore the How to Vote directions and make up your own mind.
My personal preference is to exhaust the ballot by numbering all the boxes.