Voters get a good choice

PARTY LINES: Pro-cannabis protester Dave Cannabis outside Parliament House in Canberra.
PARTY LINES: Pro-cannabis protester Dave Cannabis outside Parliament House in Canberra. AAP

HAVE you ever heard of the Pirate Party? How about the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party?

This Saturday you could give them your vote in the NSW Senate.

On the white paper, there are 41 minor parties and four independents to give your preferences instead of the two major parties.

Choice is at the cornerstone of our democratic system, but are there too many parties to chose from?

And with the minor parties inevitably giving their vote to one of the major parties somewhere down the line, is this much variety really doing our political system any good?

Lecturer in Australian Politics at Southern Cross University Dr Jo Coghlan said even though fringe parties don't always have a strong presence in the Senate, they are able to persuade governments to act on issues that are important. Ms Coghlan noted the Greens began as a very small minority in the 1970s and have now grown to become involved in almost every area of political debate.

"The two major parties are the parties that have moved to the centre," Ms Coghlan said.

"It's important to have smaller parties as democracy isn't just about voting, it's about choice and having people who represent a particular constituent."

Ms Coghlan said the idea of choice shows the major parties society is looking for something else, even if the preference system means the minor parties allocate their preferences to them eventually.

"Putting a fringe party as your first preference is a way of indicating to the larger parties you'll vote for them, because that's how the two-party system works, but you're not necessarily happy with them," she said.

Senate candidate for fringe party the HEMP Party, Tayla Moylan, said being part of a smaller party doesn't mean that you're an underdog or shouldn't be taken seriously.

"I want to spread awareness and the election provides an opportunity to push an issue people care about," Ms Moylan said.

Topics:  federal election 2013 senate

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