16 October 2020

What do all those candidates really believe? Here's how to find out

| Genevieve Jacobs
Join the conversation
Andrew Barr and Alistair Coe

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe at the Leaders Debate. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

One of the unique features of the Hare-Clark system is how many people can stand at any one election – 137 this time around in the ACT for just 25 possible seats in the Assembly.

Unlike almost any other electoral system, Hare-Clark allows you to pick candidates from within a party group rather than being forced to choose a single person. There’s far more flexibility to vote on personal preference, and for those votes to matter in a multi-member electorate.

But who do you choose?

Who of the half dozen or so candidates from a political party standing in your electorate is exactly the right one for you? Or is there someone else entirely who might be a better match? How do you find out what independents and minor parties really stand for?

This is where the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) comes to the fore. Formed in 2014, CAPaD aims to “build a social movement to engage citizens and the political system in creating a democratic Canberra”.

During an election campaign, CAPaD reaches out to all political candidates for personal statements about their skills and experience to serve as an MLA or potentially a minister; how they plan to represent their constituents if elected; what measures they would take, if elected, to promote good government and strengthen the responsiveness, accountability and transparency of government in the ACT; and what measures they would take, if elected, to promote and improve informed participation by their constituents in ACT policy development and decision making.

Dr Peter Tait is CAPaD’s secretary and says that plenty of Canberrans complain about planning, health care and public transport, and report feeling that the government is not paying much attention to them.

“The Alliance thinks that the way to fix this is to get the right people for the job; people who will work with the community on issues, on policy formation, on deciding the best options.

“The Alliance invites all candidates to put in a statement to tell voters why they are qualified to be an MLA, how they are going to involve us, the people, in policy development and decision making”, he says.

“In our representative democracy, we rely on our MLAs to work for our interests in the Assembly. We need to know about them as people as much as we need to know their party platforms.”

These statements can be found on the CAPaD website, where 27 statements have been received this far across all five electorates. Eleven of these are from Greens, six from Canberra Progressives, five from ACT Labor, four independents and one Federation Party ACT candidate.

The Canberra Liberals’ campaign director, Josh Manuatu, has written to say that no Liberal candidate would participate.

“Our candidates do not sign individual pledges, furthermore the requested Statement of Democratic Commitment relates to matters that are outside their purview”, the letter says. Mr Manuatu added that while CAPaD had requested information about pledges and donations, that was his responsibility as the registered officer.

“Where candidates or members do not act in accordance with the expectations of the party or community, we take prompt and decisive action,” he wrote.

Dr Tait says that the website has experienced a major increase in traffic as people download candidate statements and election-related material.

“Analysis of the votes received by candidates in the 2016 election reveals that candidates who did put in a statement, compared to those who didn’t, on average received more votes,” he said.

“Candidates are applying for a job as our representative,” concludes Dr Tait. “We should interview them as best we can in this time of COVID so we can choose the best people. CAPaD’s candidate statements are one way to help do that.

“In ACT elections our choice is as much about choosing between candidates of the same party as choosing between parties. So we encourage people to use their power and vote thoughtfully.”


CAPaD’s candidate questions by electorate. Image: Screenshot.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

I’m not going to make a political comment here, just an observation on that pic showing two people giving an elbow bump – what we were told we would have to use as a greeting in the COVID-19 era.

I’ve been around town, seen many people and I have not seen anybody using the elbow tap. Instead I’ve seen a lot of men shaking each others hands and people hugging like they always have done.

It seems that this elbow tap business has fallen totally flat and has not caught on in the general community.

Well mark Parton believes in himself that’s for sure!
Has to saying everything in his silly videos online twice and is condescending in them.
More than 90% of Tuggeranong people don’t like you mark or your party so give it up Monday morning when again your party fails to win government.
Alistair coe, well he believes his actually a leader and leading a party that will win, a bigger joke there isn’t.
As for the rest well it’s pretty much copy and past as these 2 clowns.

Mike of Canberra4:08 pm 16 Oct 20

So to participate is to involve yourself with a bunch of self-important busybodies and to the sort of “objectivity” you’ve shown in your comment. Not hard to decide against participating in my view.

Well people have had a gut full of politicians and have opened their eyes to their agendas. Doesn’t matter what party it is they are all the same, promises and shoving crap down your throat come election time but then are hard to get hold of or care post election. Only thing they care about is their back pockets.

At the last election Mark Parton had over 10% of first preference votes personally and his party had 41.9% of the vote.

Methinks your claims about what the people of Tuggeranong like are not aligned with reality.

Me thinks your mark Parton himself

To be honest when I lived there, I thought 100% of Tuggeranong locals didn’t like politicians.
Based on the lack of political will in Tuggeranong, I reckon the feelings are pretty mutual.

Lol a 3.2% swing against the liberals lol got much to say now?

Yes, your claims were wrong then and they’re still wrong now. I deal in facts, perhaps you should try it?

“More than 90% of Tuggeranong people don’t like you mark or your party so give it up Monday morning when again your party fails to win government.”

The Liberals are currently sitting on 38% first preference votes in Brindabella.

Mark Parton has actually increased his personal vote to over 11%.

Which ever way you want to cut it, you were just spouting BS and your claims were false.

But your “team” won, so yay you.

Some of us aren’t partisan hacks though, if you think I care that the Liberals lost, you are sadly mistaken.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.