Since posting my wrap-up on the process for selecting the next round of Greens Senators, I’ve received quite a few updates, from South Australia, NSW, the ACT and Tasmania.
Again, my sincere thanks to the Greens willing to take part in this experiment.
Firstly, I was perhaps too harsh on Tasmania, by asking whether it was possible to have some more member engagement in the selection of Senator Whish-Wilson. A Greens staffer got in touch and pointed out that I had not included the complexity of needing to coincide the process with both the Tasmanian and Federal Parliaments, and with Dr Brown’s preferred retirement date. I’d like to know more, but happy to concede that I didn’t consider those details.
Senator Hanson-Young‘s office responded that:
“The South Australian Greens undertake a formal postal ballot to all members for the preselection of their Senate candidates. During the preselection process nominees engage on many different levels with the membership. “
NSW also sent an update from their returning officer, with apologies for the email getting mislaid, and wanted to be on the record as participating. The details I posted were correct, but NSW pointed out that the decision of the State Delegate’s Council, regarding online discussion of the preselection, was made by consensus.
The ACT Acting Convenor also sent in very comprehensive answers to my questions. I’ll quote the main points below:
“The ACT Greens are proud to run a preselection process that puts ordinary members in control of the selection of our candidates. The process is as follows:
- A meeting open to all Greens members decides whether to contest the election and determines a closing date for nominations.
- A call for nominations is issued.
- All members of the party who are enrolled to vote in the ACT are invited to nominate for preselection.
- Calls for nominations are placed in the party’s member bulletins and newsletters for the entirety of the nomination period.
- Nominees complete a standard form and prepare a one page Candidate Statement for circulation to all ACT Greens members.
- Nominees meet with an Interview Committee. I would like to stress that the Interview Committee does not and cannot determine who the candidate is, as is the case in some other jurisdictions. The Interview Committee’s role is simply one of probity, ensuring that the information supplied by the nominee in their Candidate Statement is accurate, and if necessary, to disclose information relating to the nominee’s suitability for office to the membership.
“Even in such a scenario, a nominee is not precluded from contesting preselection and the ultimate decision about a candidate’s suitability is left entirely to the party’s membership at a ballot.
“Every member of the ACT Greens receives copies of the nominees’ Candidate Statements, along with ballot papers and instructions for optional preferential voting.
“ACT Greens are able and strongly encouraged to participate in a variety of ways. Mechanisms for member engagement and participation include:
- Mandated member participation at every level of decision-making in the preselection process. Under the constitution of the ACT Greens, all party meetings must be open and advertised to all party members.
- Participation in party debates and discussions is also an entitlement of party membership under clause 6.1.2 of our constitution.
- Through the Search Team. The ACT Greens recognise that robust, contested ballots are an important feature of democratic elections. To this end, a general meeting open to all party members appoints a team of three or more people to liaise with members, promote the preselection process within the party, encourage the nominations of any interested members and answer any questions that potential nominees may have about the process. The Search Team’s role is simply to encourage member participation and improve the diversity of the pool of nominees. It has no power to endorse or recommend candidates in any way.
- Through dedicated preselection engagement activities between nominees and members
- Through dedicated electronic communication
- Through a democratic, grassroots postal ballot to select the candidate.
“As a guide, preselection for the 2010 Federal election featured a total of three Meet the Candidates forums for our federal candidates, with weekly electronic communication and updates.
“Finally, it is also worth noting that all of our candidates in the current ACT election campaign have created their own Facebook pages, with some of them also maintaining a presence on Twitter, to connect with the broader community. Federal candidates are likely to follow suit.”
No state, other than NSW, has run a special ballot in case of a double dissolution election, but they have indicated they have processes they could use if needed.
Thanks again for everyone’s willingness to answer my questions. Overall, I think the experiment has been a roaring success. It shows that, with some willing political players, bloggers perhaps can participate in the political arena in some surprising ways.
Now, to think up the next experiment.