Sorting the facts from the fairy tales about Family First Preferences, so you can understand the how & why – and help spread the word.
In each and every election, Family First preferences are available to the most compatible alternative candidates, no matter what party they are from - generally speaking. Comparing the Liberal Party and Labor Party, both will occasionally preselect and party-endorse candidates that do not reflect their normal party position. Nothing should ever be predictable about how we will recommend our flow of preferences, other than the values we seek to encourage and reward in Australian politics.
How Does Family First Control Votes?
With only one exception, no party can control your vote, and it’s never possible without your explicit permission. “How To Vote” cards, or HTVs, are only ever suggestions - a guide, and always up to the individual to follow, or ignore, or partially follow. The only time Queensland voters can delegate their authority to determine preferences to a party is on a Federal Senate ballot paper, by numbering only one box above the line. If you prefer to choose your own preferences, you simply have to number every single box in order beneath the line.
The Best Person For Families
Family First will attempt to approach every candidate in every seat and ask them how they would personally vote on our core values and issues. The best match to our own public positions on these subjects will normally receive our preferences - no matter what party they belong to. Sometimes the result is surprising, and a candidate from the Labor Party will indicate strong support for traditional family values, whilst their allegedly conservative opponent from the Liberal Party will indicate indifference or opposition to socially conservative policies. It would be wrong for us to support a Liberal Party candidate in that situation.
What if They’re All Bad For Families?
In other situations, both major party candidates may be equally opposed to core Family First policies on issues like marriage, euthanasia, or abortion. In such a case we have several things to consider, such as general party position, preference negotiations, and campaign strategy - any one of which could break the tie. If we have no strong feelings on the matter in a Qld state election (where it’s optional to give preferences), we may also decline to recommend some candidates at all, and leave some boxes blank.
In the case of preference deals and negotiations, every party we talk to (and we talk to every party) understands that if they preselect a candidate we feel we cannot support because of their personal position on our core values, the deal is off in that seat. We would never ever recommend voting for a candidate who is anti-family above a candidate who is pro-family. Any rumours you hear to the contrary are just that - rumours. We welcome scrutiny on this claim.
Preference negotiations are usually conducted on the trust that those talks and agreements are kept confidential, and so we will never betray that confidence. This guarantees that other parties will keep negotiating with us, increasing the influence Family First voters and supporters have at and between elections.
Another occasional concern is that Family First will consider the lack of response from another candidate or party as a negative response. We feel we have no other choice, and here’s why.
Firstly, it is not unreasonable to ask a candidate their position on policies if that candidate is standing for election. We ask on behalf of all our voters and supporters in order to make better informed recommendations. We always allow enough time to respond. Secondly, we never discourage or refuse to communicate with any candidate seeking to receive the benefit of our voters’ preferences. It is reasonable to assume that if a candidate or party wanted our preferences, they would encourage this respectful dialogue.
But here’s the rub. If any candidate or party knew that their answers would likely be disadvantageous to them, their non-response would be strategically better than a negative response - if we did not treat both options the same. To prevent such manipulative and deceptive games, Family First will always consider a non-response the same as a negative response. It is also reasonable to assume that if a candidate or party wanted our preferences and supported traditional family values, they would go to the relatively small effort of confirming so.
A non-response to Family First is as good as that candidate saying they don’t want your vote.
Why Follow Family First HTVs?
Please allow us to clear up another myth. Only your primary, first preference votes will help Family First. Only voting one for your Family First party will send a message to the major parties that they are not representing your family values. Voting for a major party first and a minor party second is completely inconsequential as a major party candidate is almost never excluded prior to a minor party candidate, so the benefit of your preferences will almost never flow down - which means there is no benefit. Your first preference should always go to the candidate and party that most accurately and completely reflects your highest social values.
It is likely that most people have not and cannot do as much research and communication with every candidate in every electorate as Family First can. As such, and now understanding how we decide to rank the recommendations on our How To Vote cards (HTVs), a lot of confidence can be put in the fact that this order is in the best interests of the most families.
We strongly encourage you to do your own research. Write to and talk to every candidate - not just your favourites. Ask them how they would personally vote on redefining marriage, legalising euthanasia or preventing abortion-on-demand, and other issues the major parties can often be critically compromised on. Consider no response as a negative response. Do not ever, ever trust the media - tv, radio, print or internet.
But if you don’t have the time or confidence to do your own research, we’ve done it for you, and that’s why Family First’s How To Vote recommendations can be followed with confidence.
It’s time to vote for your Family First!