Hello stranger …

Vote 1 for your preferred party but then do something very unusual – Vote 2 for the opposing party, symbolically joining the major parties on your ballot. Make this the trademark vote of the Australian CENTRE, a demand for much less division and much more compromise in Australian politics.

If voters can’t do this, how can their representatives?

Either: Vote 1 for LIBERAL/ NATIONAL & Vote 2 for LABOR

Or: Vote 1 for LABOR & Vote 2 for LIBERAL/ NATIONAL

Let’s call this a CENTRE vote.

It’s a vote for what most voters want. 71% agree … I wish both sides of politics would try to ‘meet each other in the middle’ more often*.

It’s a vote you can comfortably post to social media, encouraging others to follow your lead.

It indicates a readiness to flip, a quiet threat to unseat divisive politicians.

It’s a distinctive vote that will be detected in poll results – polling station by polling station, suburb by suburb. The CENTRE thus finds its voice, alongside the divisive and uncompromising ‘I win/U lose’ counts for political parties.

It’s a symbolic vote but symbols are essential. Flags are symbols; hi-vis vests and school uniforms are symbols; hair styles and tattoos; handshakes and signatures; hugs and kisses. Putting the other party last, as instructed by each party’s how-to-vote, is also a symbol. But a symbol of disgust and mistrust, which is not what most of us want to say to each other; only 18% of voters identify with either left-wing or right-wing politics. So, on 18 May, let’s rally ourselves, come together, look around to find we are not alone, realise the strength in our numbers; proclaim the CENTRE from both sides of politics.

Consider endorsing the CENTRE even if you Vote 1 for an independent or minor party; simply number the major parties consecutively, in the order you prefer – maybe 2+3 or 3+4.

You might want to take a cheat sheet into the polling booth; the Senate ballot can be challenging. Find CENTRE how-to-votes here, including a link to the find-my-electorate service provided by the Australian Electoral Commission. Maybe grab the three how-to-votes for the SENATE and start an email chain, or post to social media with a note of explanation.

Consider making a flyer for your street, suburb, family, friends and colleagues, school or work group – wherever feels comfortable and appropriate. Resources for a simple flyer are here, splicing a version of this ‘hello stranger’ page with the appropriate how-to-vote(s). Please do what you can.

Then what happens? The objective is to establish a political audience and constituency that most of us are happy to be part of, are happy to ‘own’. Such that pollsters report what CENTRE voters think, rather than divisively assign us to a party – LABOR, LIBERAL, GREEN and so forth. Political journalists do stories that interest the CENTRE, focusing on the pre-selection, behaviour and abilities of individual politicians – variously divisive and unifying. Politicians better understand they must appeal to the CENTRE, for example, by creating non-partisan processes and institutions to resolve the many difficult issues that we face.

Having voted CENTRE and having that in common, voters from both sides can talk politics more comfortably, re-engaging with the politics of important issues. The political wings might not talk to each other but that is not most of us.

The CENTRE needs a ‘big stick’ of the kind favoured by Teddy Roosevelt … speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far … to jointly threaten the careers of divisive politicians on both sides of politics. That requires more political innovation and will take some organising. Initial thoughts are here. Importantly, however, the CENTRE will have expressed a need felt on both sides of politics.


* Essential Poll, 18 July 2017