Sunday, February 26, 2012

Who Elects the Prime Minister of Australia?

I try not to discuss party politics on this blog so I'm not going to talk about who's wrong or right in the current upheaval going on in Canberra. What I am going to talk about is how shockingly ignorant Australians seem to be of how our electoral system works.

There's a lot of nonsense being talked about how the Prime Minister is elected by the people of Australia. Really this is rubbish. The only place where any candidate's name appears is on the ballot papers in the electorate where he or she is standing for election. Individually, we vote according to our choice of local candidates, not for who is to be Prime Minister. Yes, the voters know who the leaders of the various parties are but that doesn't mean they are voting for them. They are voting for the political party they prefer. The only mandate any candidate has from the Australian people is to represent his or her own electorate.

It's the parliamentary members of any political party who elect their leader and they have the right to change that leader without subjecting the nation to the expense of a general election (and, speaking for myself, I certainly wouldn't want to see my taxes eaten up by elections every time a governing party decides to change its leader). The fact is we, the electorate, have no say in the leadership of Parliamentary political parties, no matter which party is in government. We do not have a presidential style election of Prime MInister in Australia and, until we do have such a system, the election of party leaders is the business of the party concerned alone.

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