“What Role Do Minor Parties Perform in the Australian Political System?”

Topics: Australian Senate, Australian federal election, 2004, Tasmania Pages: 4 (1554 words) Published: August 17, 2008
The role of the minor parties within the Australian political system can be as their title suggests, quite minor. On the other hand, a minor party can influence the political proceedings of this country in more ways than one. Minor parties can highlight socio-economic problems that quite often fly under the radar of the larger political parties, or simply can broaden electoral debate. Often spawning from a social, or in the case of the Greens, an environmental movement, minor parties tend to only last through one election, due to a lack of support and relevance in the mainstream social fabric. The minor parties can become crucial players come election time, due to Australia’s law of Compulsory preferential voting. Jaensch (1983, p.21) observes that, the system of compulsory preferential voting guarantees minor parties with two things, the minor parties supporters will turn out and vote, and secondly, preferences as a result of their votes will be shown. There are currently 70 political parties registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, most of which are minor parties. One of the most successful minor political parties is the Greens, who have been successful in gaining seats in the Senate from time to time. The Greens have much political sway in the ecological diverse and fragile state of Tasmania, where in the past; the party has managed to hold a balance of power in the state parliament. Born out of the frustration of Tasmania’s Hydro Electric Commission’s attempt to flood over 240 square kilometres of the Lake Pedder National Park (Brown & Singer 1996, p.68), Green groups started to surface in many states, to battle issues of environmental concern, and ecological destruction, to which the major parties viewed by some, were not doing enough to highlight. The active Greens parties that had been operating separately during the 1980’s in a variety of states came together in 1992, under the advice by many that in order to push their political agenda...
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