Episode 63

VOICE OVER:   Trigger warning! This podcast contains more common sense than most people can cope with. If you can't handle the truth, stop listening now. The Conservative Revolution starts here. This is your Weekly Dose of Common Sense with Cory Bernardi.

CORY BERNARDI:   Hello everyone, Cory Bernardi here. Welcome to another Weekly Dose of Common Sense podcast and haven’t we got a cracker of a podcast for you this week?

I said we’re going to focus on the election and we are. We’re going to talk about voting systems, we’re going to talk about preferences, we’re also going to talk to one of, I think, the great voices in politics at the moment; one of the people who speaks more truth to power than a whole bunch of others combined, a guy that (not that many years ago) I didn’t agree with a lot of the time and now I find myself nodding and going, “Yes. He’s right and I wish I said it like that, myself.” He plays in another political ground, he’s part of another political team but I think he’s an extraordinary individual and I’ve grown to like him very much. His name is Mark Latham and I know many of you will be interested in that. So, tune in.

Then we’ve got an extensive Your Say; it goes for much longer than normal but it’s important because we cover a whole bunch of important ground and there’s no bigger ground in the political sense than what is happening this weekend.

It’s a federal election: the blue to team or the red team, there’s a yellow machine in there and an orange ... orange-haired person (that’s probably the nicest way to put it – anyway, I’m trying to paint political) ... and then you’ve got the Green freaks, and then you’ve got the sensible blue team in the Australian Conservatives as well and a whole bunch of other players. It’s going to be fascinating the watch and I can’t predict the outcome save to say the bookies have Labor odds-on.

We know – we know that there’s a lot of people who really are unhappy about the choice in this election, that’s why there’s expected to be a large 25, maybe 30% minor party vote because the two-party duopoly is not delivering the results that our nation needs. And so, we see a lot more people now going to pre-poll. Over a million people have voted at pre-poll and these people have clearly made up their minds or – or – they want to cast their ballot so then they can say, “I’ve done my duty. I don’t need to pay any more attention to this unedifying circus called ‘the election’.”

Now, the major parties don’t like this high pre-poll vote - it keeps growing every election. You can bet your bottom dollar (I wouldn’t gamble, but anyway), you can have a crack that they will expect - both of them (or I will expect) to team up post the election to do something about pre-poll because they’re frustrated that the tens of millions of dollars they spend planning and implementing a set campaign are falling on increasingly deaf ears. People don’t want to pay attention; they want to cast their vote because they’ve made up their mind or they don’t really want to do it, fulfil their obligation and move on.

Now, I think there needs to be electoral reform as well, but I don’t think stopping pre-poll is the answer and it’s not surprising that I’ve got a different perspective on these things than the red and blue political tribes because they have a vested interest in the status quo. Everything about the system currently is engineered to support the two-party system. One of them will be in power, so that’s ‘okay’.

Compulsory preferential voting in the House of Reps means your vote eventually rests with one of the major parties. On occasions it goes to a third-party player or an Independent or someone gets up the middle, but principally it’s because the major parties run dead in that seat. They want to keep their vote as low as possible and that gives a third party or someone else to emerge up the middle. They only do it in seats they think they can’t win.

A compulsory preferential system means you have to actually allocate an order of preference to groups you might loathe – you might find detestable. Sometimes you’ll be forced to choose between multiple groups that you can’t stand. This means that if your preferred choices don’t get up then your vote actually goes to supporting someone whose views, whose attitudes, whose approach to everything is opposed to all the things that you value.

Now, if you then compound that problem, it’s clear many voters don’t even understand the basics surrounding the preferential system. It’s one of the most requested emails that I get: “How is your party allocating preferences?” People don’t understand they’re allocating themselves. “How should I vote? What is the preferential system?” On and on it goes. The government has spent tens of millions of dollars educating people and still many don’t get it, and that means that a lot of people want to be told how to vote rather than have to think about their vote preferences matter.

I think that’s part of the detachment they feel that individuals are just a cog in the political machine; they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do but ultimately they don’t feel they have a major say in it. And it’s a problem that is not going to be resolved by education or putting together how-to-vote campaigns. The governments have been spending millions of dollars on this for decades and people still don’t get it. I think it’s better to reform the system to allow optional preferential voting. That means that voters only have to put a number beside the candidates they’re happy to support.

That means, if you’re happy with one or two or three or four, the consequence of that is that your vote may not count at all, but it means that you shouldn’t be casting a vote (or you don’t have to cast a vote) in favour of someone whom you think is repulsive.

Now, the major parties of course, did this reform (or a variation of it) in the Senate when the realised there was a continuing threat from minor parties who were gaming the system by swapping preferences amongst themselves guaranteeing one of them would get elected. The major parties didn’t like that, so they teamed up for mutual self-interest – I think they’re going to do it again.

Now, we talk about this later in Your Say, but in the Senate, every voter is encouraged to number a minimum of six parties above the line or 12 candidates below the line. You can number more or less but as long as you’ve got at least a number 1 in there your vote is going to be valid – it might not go very far but at least it will be a valid one.

So, put 1 in the Australian Conservatives box and then go your hardest after that.

But it brings me to another electoral reform: if so many people do not understand the system or don’t care about it or just want to be told what to do, why are we forcing people to vote in the first place? Now, I know there’s plenty of pedants out there who’ll go, “No! No one’s forced to vote,” but you are required to have your name marked off the roll every election. So you ignore that little aspect of it, you still have to turn up at a polling booth, even if you don’t want to – even if you don’t want to support anybody you got to stand in a queue, maybe have your democracy sausage, simply because the government says you do.

Now, I have a view that if you don’t want to participate in an election, if you don’t want to vote for any candidates or if you simply cannot be bothered, that’s your right – you shouldn’t be forced to.

Once again though, this would have a major impact on the major parties who would then be required to inspire people to actually go out to vote. They’d need to inspire support, they’d need to actually highlight the flaws of the other party in a meaningful manner rather than just this superficial manner that they do. It would mean to me (in my view, anyway), a more responsive electoral cycle; grassroots campaigns coming to the fore, you’d see more volatility in the electorate of course, but those who can be bothered would make all the difference.

Once of the criticisms in this space is that in countries where voluntary voting is, it’s often less and half of the people who are eligible to vote who actually turn up and bother to do it. The critics say, “Nah, it’s not representative. It delegitimises elections.” Well the reality is, if the political parties want to change that figure, they need to do a better job of connecting with the people they serve, to inspire them, to get them involved in the democratic system.

I know that no system is perfect, but a system that virtually entrenches the two-party duopoly when they’ve been delivering such poor results for us is not what our nation needs.

Compulsory preferential voting - non-voluntary voting is a relatively new change to the political system, but it’s not working for us; it’s working for them.

Let me know what you think: cory@corybernardi.com . I’ll be back in just a moment with an interview with the legendary Mark Latham.

ADVERTISEMENT (ANNOUNCER):   Here is a broadcast by Cory Bernardi for the Australian Conservatives for the 2019 Federal Election.

ADVERTISEMENT (CORY BERNARDI):   Do you remember the good old days when electricity and housing where affordable; when jobs were plentiful and cost of living was low? It was a time when our kids learnt to actually read, write and reason at school rather than be used as political pawns. It was a time when politicians were actually working for you rather than for themselves.

But times have changed and common sense is being washed away in a torrent of political correctness. The evidence is there for all to see. Successive governments have made almost everything worse as they perform policy experiments that have hurt us all. Little wonder so many Aussie families and businesses are finding it tough going.

Australia simply can’t afford more of the same.

It’s time to bring back common sense and to stop the political experiments. We need to restore the principles and values that have built our country and can make it stronger.

The Australian Conservatives will keep taxes low and electricity costs even lower. We’ll protect your retirement savings and your job. We will never surrender our sovereignty to the United Nations or allow the Chinese Communist Party to meddle in our affairs.

We’ll make sure immigration is working in your interest. We’ll fight for your freedoms and make sure every Australian gets a fair go.

The Australian Conservatives are running Senate candidates in every state. Our Senators will fight for you and for our country.

So, no matter who you want to form the next government, a vote for the Australian Conservatives in the Senate is a vote to bring back common sense.

ADVERTISEMENT (VOICE OVER):   Authorised by C Bernardi for the Australian Conservatives, Kent Town.

VOICE OVER:   Welcome to the podcast of the only party at this year’s election promising to bring back common sense. This is Your Weekly Dose of Common Sense.

CORY BERNARDI:   Well listeners, I’ve got a rare treat for you: a guy that many of you contact me about and a chap who I happen to agree with 99.99% of what he is saying now. Of course I’m talking about the Honourable Mark Latham who’s now a Member of the Legislative Council in New South Wales. Mark, welcome to the Common Sense podcast.

MARK LATHAM:   Thanks very much, Cory. Good to be with you.

CORY BERNARDI:   Mate, you’ve become quite the legend in the Common Sense community, not only because of this amazing speech you gave – your maiden speech – are we still allowed to call it that? A ‘maiden speech’?

MARK LATHAM:   Yes, I call it a ‘maiden speech’. I think the official title in Hansard (in the PC style) is ‘inaugural speech’. Well, I think ‘maiden speech’ is a great traditional term. I’ve given two, now; one in the House of Representatives and one in the New South Wales Legislative Council.

CORY BERNARDI:   Hey, and what a journey? I haven’t looked at your House of Reps one, but I imagine – given what I’ve seen of you over the years – there’s been a massive journey between what you said when you first went into parliament from the Liverpool Council, through to now you’re a One Nation Upper House Member in New South Wales?

MARK LATHAM:   Well, when I spoke in 1994 in the House of Representatives, meritocracy was still Labor policy; that we hadn’t gone down the path of divisive identity politics, we judged people in individual merit. In the speech last week, I actually harked back to how would I, as a newly minted Labor MP in 1994, who was the neediest person in my electorate? And I would have said, “A white fellow, restructured out of manufacturing work in the 80s and 90s and living a public housing estate in Campbelltown in south-west Sydney.” And I made the point, “How little did I know?” You know, these days he’s classified as white, male, privileged; simply because of his skin colour and his gender. Well, this just highlights the absurdity of identity politics and how it has now answer for people in genuine need.

I lament the fact that Labor has lost sight of individual, socio-economic circumstances instead of judging people by need. It’s just ridiculous to judge them by their skin colour and gender – things that essentially they can’t do anything about.

CORY BERNARDI:   It seems, Mark, that you and I have been on a parallel journey in the sense that we joined major parties, we were engaged in it, you rose to the lofty heights of Opposition Leader of course, but our respective parties’ ethos have moved away from where we were when we joined them and you an I don’t seemed to have changed that much in the sense of ‘meritocracy’; you have a commitment to truth against the scourge of identity politics. Is that a fair summation, that you’ve remain centred and the party has moved around you?

MARK LATHAM:   I think that’s right. I always say that the Labor Party has changed much more than I have. I think in your circumstances as well, our time in the federal parliament when we would have served there together, there was a common assumption – a sensible orthodoxy – that we were all in favour of civilisational values. We thought Western Civilisation was a plus for the Australian continent, we had much to be proud of as a nation, our national story deserved to be celebrated on 26 January each year and things like gender and national identity were fixed; they weren’t fluid – there wasn’t a social construct out there that’s hypnotised us into thinking things that aren’t true and that everything is fluid.

You know, those orthodoxies have deserted us and I see this very much now as a struggle for civilisational values, free speech, merit selection, resilience and love of country. Whether you come from a Liberal Party background or a traditional Labor Party background or you’re a libertarian or a nationalist, we should all share that support for civilisational values – and I think that’s the thing that has brought us together. There is a unity around something that we never thought would be under siege but it is under attack today and we’ve got to stand up for the good things about our culture, our country and our civilisation.

MARK LATHAM:   It’s so true. Do you remember when the Greens would come out with their kooky policies (which they still do) and people would laugh and say, “Oh, that’ll never catch on. That’s just so absurd,” and it was about kids not playing with toys or changing the date of Australia Day or whatever it is. Now they’ve entered the mainstream consciousness with the support of weak politicians, complicit media and the indoctrination of kids in the school system. It’s really a poisonous sort of triumvirate that’s taking place in this country.

MARK LATHAM:   Well, that’s right. There has been a march through our public institutions and in large part, they’re doing the work of the Greens. I put it down to the fact that when the Berlin Wall fell in ’89, we all thought that the socialist doctrine of economic control was dead and buried and indeed it was, but they reassembled themselves and morphed into a different type of control through our institutions trying to control society through culture, feelings, behaviour, language, the re-emergence of political correctness. It’s a more insidious, harder thing to fight because a lot of these campaigns have Trojan Horse themes; Safe Schools, for instance, “How can you fight against anti-bullying campaigns?” Well it wasn’t that, it was about gender fluidity.

So, marching through the institutions and developing these Trojan Horse campaigns is tougher work for those of us who still believe in the virtues of Western Civilisation. So, it is a big, big fight. It’s tougher than it was; perhaps there was a complacency after the fall of the Berlin Wall – we thought socialism was dead.

You know, when I was in the Labor Party, I spent a good time from the Right Wing of the Labor Party fighting kooky, Left Wing ideas, and who would have thought that would ultimately become the Labor Party orthodoxy? So, here I am still fighting them.

CORY BERNARDI:   And good on you, we’re very grateful that you are.

Tell me about the different between being an Upper House Member in the New South Wales parliament versus a House of Representatives Member, including being Leader of the Opposition. I mean, there must be a huge difference in dynamics – the focus on issues. Where do you think the most effective contribution can be made into the lives of everyday people; Federal, State, Upper House, Lower House?

Well, at the current time, anyone in parliament (I think) has a big responsibility to use parliamentary privilege. The fact that they haven’t found a way of kicking you out of parliament to speak their minds. Speak truths. If we’re not speaking truth in the parliament where we have certain protections, it’s so much harder for the average person very worried about Australia’s direction. You know, they feel that if they speak out they could even lose their job like Israel Folau; the terrible circumstance of his treatment.

I think any place in the parliament now is important and for One Nation in the New South Wales parliament, we’ve got a very clear policy agenda based on civilisational values. I think the important thing is to force a vote.

I’ve got to say, Cory, one of the transformations is to see how the National Party in New South Wales has become identity-Left in its orientation. You know, I said in my speech, “They still believe in teaching an alphabet but it’s LGBTIQWTF alphabet – it’s the wrong alphabet to be teaching.” And these National Party characters have been transformed as has large parts of the Liberal Party. So, I’m determined on issues of free speech, merit selection, freedom of religion to force a vote in the parliament to flush out people who might be giving the impression at their Liberal or National Party branch meetings that they’re still conservatives and in fact, they’re not. Let’s see how these people vote on the floor of parliament. I think that’s the imperative at the current time.

CORY BERNARDI:   Hear, hear. I can sense the listenership of the Common Sense podcast just cheering that on.

Now, you mentioned Israel Folau. You’re an atheist – or I believe that’s the case – and yet you stood in your maiden speech and defended freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to religious beliefs. Now, that to me says everything about the principles that you’re upholding; you don’t have to be a convert or an advocate for anything but you’re going to stand up for the principles attached to the freedoms that we have. Do you have a comment on that?

MARK LATHAM:   Well, yes. I was listed several times on Israel’s list of sinners, I’ve got to say. It’s horrifying how many times I’m on that list.

CORY BERNARDI:   It’s a bit scary, isn’t it.

MARK LATHAM:   But if you don’t believe in hell, how can you take offence?

The point is that a lot of the gay lefties taking offence – they’re totally confected. They don’t believe in hell, so you can’t be offended. They’re using this confected outrage to try and close down his freedom of speech and kick him out of his livelihood which is a dreadful thing for quoting the Bible.

We’re on the water’s edge - the mainstream media and the political class in this country – defining the Bible as ‘hate speech’.

CORY BERNARDI:   It’s incredible.

MARK LATHAM:   And that is truly terrifying.

CORY BERNARDI:   It’s the biggest selling book and the most widely printed book in the history of humanity and it’s quoted by preachers and pastors and advocates every single week and now suddenly it’s full of ‘hate speech’. It’s extraordinary.

MARK LATHAM:   I’ve always told my children – I think they’ve listened to the viewpoint – that you don’t have to believe in God to understand the importance of Christianity to our civilisation. Where do we get notions of right and wrong from; important definitions of compassion and social caring? They come from the Bible, most particularly the teachings of Jesus Christ. Whether or not you believe Christ is the Son of God, He was the greatest moral teacher in our history and His lessons, quite frankly, are probably more important today than any other time in our history. So, if you believe in civilisation, you must recognise the importance of Christianity as an essential pillar of our civilisation. For that reason alone, freedom of religion must be protected. So, I was very, very pleased and the public reaction has been wonderful, when  I stood up and said that “No Australian should live in fear of saying four of the most glorious words in the history of our civilisation: I am a Christian.”

CORY BERNARDI:   Hear, hear.

MARK LATHAM:   And I can assure you, Cory, as long as my backside points to the ground, I’ll be fighting for that principle. I hate suppression of free speech, I hate the way in which Christians are now under attack, and we’ve got to reverse it in Australia because people came here to flee – many ethnic groups came here to flee religious persecution and shamefully it has followed them to our country.

CORY BERNARDI:   That’s absolutely right and it should really be front and centre in this federal election campaign but of course it’s not because both the major parties want to avoid the conversation about it.

How do you see this federal election playing out? The blue team or the red team is going to win; you’re going to have Shorten or Morrison as Prime Minister? How do you see it playing out for our freedoms going forward?

MARK LATHAM:   We need people in the Senate in particular who’ll fight for freedom. Obviously, I’m advocating a vote for One Nation but I do say this: one of the risks in the Senate is to vote for Clive Palmer because this guy has spent $50m advertising how bad Labor and Liberal are to then turn around and preference Labor and Liberal on his Senate ticket.

And, he’s adopted a ‘scorched earth’ policy whereby he’s supposed to be saying if his Senators can’t get in, no one else can; not from One Nation, not from Australian Conservatives, not from the Shooters’ Party. He’d rather see Labor and Liberal get in and as the preferences exhaust he’s actually helping the Greens.

So I say to anyone right-of-centre, conservative, traditional Labor background like myself: if you’re worried about civilisational values at least hang your preferences together and don’t preference Labor and Liberal in the Upper House – preference like-parties, support each other and make sure that as the preferences exhaust that good, solid people supporting civilisational values can be elected instead of Labor and the Greens, in particular.

CORY BERNARDI:   Thanks, Mark. I agree with you. Before I let you go, let’s go back to Palmer: what would it mean if someone with his track record (both in business and in the parliament – a very recent track record in both) can spend an inordinate amount of money and buy their way into parliament and buy themselves a political force. Doesn’t it say something about the state of our democracy?

MARK LATHAM:   It’s like the old, British rotten borough system where you could buy yourself a seat in parliament and that was deemed to be undemocratic. No matter what differences we have – Cory, you’ve been out there advocating ideas and policies, I do the same – it wouldn’t occur to us for a minute that you could get $50m worth of advertising and buy yourself seats in the parliament and I think that in itself is a threat to the fabric of our democracy. It must be a battle of ideas, it must be a battle of policy and the fact that Palmer won’t even talk to the Australian people. He’s not out there on the hustings walking through shopping centres, calling town hall meetings, even appearing in the media. So, if he won’t talk to the Australian people why should the Australian people ever support him?

CORY BERNARDI:   It’s a very fair point and what I find in his policy mix, he just goes around and picks bits out of One Nation, a fair bit out of the Conservatives’ policy and a bit here and there. There’s no coherent thread that’s binding it all together; it’s just a random conglomerate of thoughts convincing as many people that they should vest their vote in him. I just don’t think it’s really healthy for our country, actually.

MARK LATHAM:   Well, you and I are struggling for a certain kind of Australian future; Clive Palmer is struggling for himself – he’s in there struggling to get himself into a position of power for that reason alone. There’s no philosophy there. There’s no passion about Australia’s future. It’s all big money trying to buy a seat in parliament.

CORY BERNARDI:   Yes, unfortunately there is many in politics that are in it for themselves. I know that you are motivated by a greater good, you’ve been on an amazing journey and I can identify with it. As I say to my listeners and I tell people on Sky, “There’s not much that Mark Latham says anymore that I can disagree with.”

MARK LATHAM:   Thanks, Cory.

CORY BERNARDI:   It’s wonderful to have you on the Common Sense podcast, honestly. It’s been a treat.

MARK LATHAM:   The good news is I’ll keep on saying it – they can’t silence me.

CORY BERNARDI:   No, they can’t shut either of us up, which is a positive, isn’t it? Good on you. More strength to your arm and thanks for joining us on the Common Sense podcast.

MARK LATHAM:   A pleasure.

ADVERTISEMENT:   In an age of deals, excuses and short cuts, it's time for a better way. Australia could really do with a new brand of politics: someone that will say what they mean and mean what they say; a party that will never quit, never give up and I know Cory Bernardi and his team of Conservatives will always fight for you. They will fight for affordable and reliable electricity; they will fight for stronger borders and they will stand up to political correctness and defend our Australian values; Australia together! The Australian Conservatives can bring conviction back to Canberra. Authorised by C Bernardi for the Australian Conservatives, Adelaide.

VOICE OVER:   If you think politics needs more common sense and less clowns, you’ve come to the right place. This is Your Weekly Dose of Common Sense.

CORY BERNARDI:   Welcome back, this is Your Weekly Dose of Common Sense and it’s time for Your Say. And what a bunch of emails we’ve got this week, a lot of communications revolving around many of the same topics including preferences and converting voters. This is an election broadcast, after all.

Travis says, “Not being a big follower of politics, I had the let the mainstream media tell me whom to vote for. This election, I decided I would do my own research. From this, I’ve found the Conservatives’ policies and motto are exactly what I believe it. I didn’t expect to find a party that thinks like I do, so congratulations to you and the candidates for such a great party. I now have an interest in politics.”

Well, there’s one convert. Thank you, Travis.

Emily, she’s a younger voter. She says, “If my partner and I are to vote for a Conservative Senate Number 1 but Conservatives do not have enough votes to be elected in, who do the Conservatives give their votes to? Sorry for my stupid question.”

Well, Emily, it’s not a stupid question – it’s a question I get again and again and again because even those who have been voting for a very long time don’t understand the system.

In the Senate you’re meant to vote from 1 to 6. You choose the order that is in. We’re asking you to put number 1 in the Australian Conservatives’ box and then choose the next five parties or individuals that you think best represent your values. For some of you it will be the Liberal Party, some will be the Labor Party, some will support One Nation or Palmer’s or whatever, but as long a you put a number 1 in the Australian Conservatives’ box it will be a valid vote. Parties to not determine preferences anymore. So, your question isn’t stupid, Emily, it’s a really important one and thank you for asking it.

Janet says, “Cory, could you please clarify the latest Senate voting system?” See what I mean when I said that there is a theme – people don’t seem to understand it. Anyway, she says, “You’ve said it is only necessary to put one number when voting above the line by the AEC’s official guide says to make at least six boxes above the line or 12 below the line.”

They’re both right. Janet, the AEC and the law says parties cannot advocate to only have a single number – they have to advocate numbering 1 to 6 and we do that by saying, “Put a 1 in the Australian Conservatives’ box and then choosing 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in order of your preference,” that’s if you’re voting above the line. Below the line, you’re meant to vote for 12. But I make this point: if you simply vote 1 or 1 and 2 and 3 or below the line you go from 1 to 7, it is a valid vote – they will count your vote. That’s different to the House of Representatives and that’s why the Senate has had some reform. But of course, if your chosen candidate or party doesn’t get up then the vote exhausts – it won’t flow on any further. But it means you don’t have to choose between who to put last; the Greens or the animal liberationists or whatever they are. Anyway.

Janet finishes, “I know there’s been some sort of saving provision in the legislation by the AEC seems pretty unequivocal.” Because they’re right – they are absolutely right. “How are you recommending people to vote for Conservatives if you must in fact number at least six boxes above the line?”

Once again, Janet, you don’t have to number six boxes above the line to have a valid vote but a political party has to advocate in any public advertising that people do.

Ashley says, “Congratulations on the bravery and strength of conviction you showed setting up AC. For such a young party, outstanding array of candidates the party is fielding in seats in the Senate.” You’re quite right, Ashely. Thank you for recognising it, they are amazing. “I’ve never been a member of a political party before the Australian Conservatives was formed. For those that would consider helping at a polling booth with how-to-vote cards but don’t seem to want to be seen by neighbours or acquaintances, choose another booth outside the electorate. The method of choosing a booth was such an easy one and an experience. Could you explain how listeners could do this, please?”

The simplest way (and by the time this goes to air, we’ve only got a couple of days) of contacting your local division; so you get your state acronym, the ACT or Vic or NSW @ conservatives.org.au, it goes through to the team and hopefully they will respond to it. Go to the party’s website, send something through that way, too.

Goes on, “I’d also be interested in what individuals you would recommend to listeners who are voting for 12 candidates below the line.” Well, depends on the state you’re in. You’ve mentioned you’re in New South Wales; if I was voting below the line in New South Wales I’d vote for Sophie York and Riccardo Bosi, and then I’d be voting for Jim Molan – he’s a Liberal who has been relegated to an unwinnable position. That’s what I would do because I think he’s a force for good. But, you know, everyone’s going to have their differences – everyone’s going to have their different opinions; people they’d like to support or don’t like to support. Do some research. Ask yourself, “What are the important values,” and then you’ll make the right choice for you, Ashley. Thanks for your contact.

Janetta says, “Thank you for your newsletter, I regularly enjoy reading these and staying up-to-date. Great to see Rikki Lambert and Carl Teusner as SA Senate candidates.” That’s great. Thank you.

“One concern I raised last year was that preferences from Australian Conservatives were being given to the Labor Party. I would like to ask what is the Australian Conservatives’ position on preferences on the upcoming election? Is there any arrangement in place or will there be?”

The short answer to that is ‘no’, Janetta. We’re not running in Lower House seats. In Lower House seats you have to choose preferences and at one point you’re going to put one above the other. We chose not to run in Lower House seats. We’re running in the Senate because we don’t what to run into the turmoil that caused so much angst last year.

Let me put it on the record: there are Liberals I wouldn’t preference in a month of Sundays. I can’t in all conscience. I want a conservative government – I want a Liberal government – but some of them are so terrible they’re not worth supporting and some in the Labor Party are worth supporting because they’ve got to have a value system in there. But, every time you make a choice you upset half of the people. There are plenty of conservatives who are Labor voters in the Lower House but want to support us in the Upper House and there’s plenty of people who vote for the Liberals in the Lower House and want to support us in the Upper House. I don’t want to wade into that brawl; we can make whomever forms government a better government.

“Perhaps you could consider addressing this issue to your members in the lead up to the election.” Well, we have, Janetta. Many, many, many, many times both in emails and through this podcast and I’m sorry you’ve missed it but hopefully you’ll get notified of this.

Dianne says, “I live in the ACT.” Sorry ... I shouldn’t say that. The ACT’s not bad but its just got such a Left Wing government. “I’m totally concerned that I have no Conservative to vote for locally. Can you advise the best way for me to vote for our party here in the ACT?” Quite simply, the only prospect of any success in the ACT is with Zed Seselja – he’s part of the Coalition Government. He’s flying the flag for conservatives in the ACT – former leader of the ACT Liberal Party, I think. Anyway, a Senator – you’ve got to vote for him, you got to back him in, honestly. I don’t even know who else is running but it’s sort of like a Green-Left lockout over there and Zed’s the only hope.

Gary, he says, “First, let me say I wish all your candidates all the best on 18 May. Impressed with Kevin Bailey after hearing him on your podcast. Truly believe he will be an asset for the parliament and the Australian people if elected. He’s passion prompted me to donate.” Hey, excellent. Thank you.

“I live in the Undemocratic People’s Republic of Victoria and have been very disappointed with the amount of advertising the Victorian Government is running to knock the Federal Government and to ask for a bigger slice of the GST pie. Can anything be done from a federal level to stop all states running ads during federal election campaigns?” The short answer to that, Gary, is I don’t think there is. The feds can’t – they could pass legislation but I think it would be a political fraught one and I think it might be constitutionally fraught. Remember, the states form the Commonwealth and I’m not sure they have the heads of power to say they’re not allowed to communicate whatever messages they want, whenever they want.

Tim says, “I’m so excited for the election this week. I will be handing out how-to-vote cards at pre-poll and election day. I have looked but I cannot find a policy position on the NDIS. I’ve recently approved for NDIS funding but the system is a dog’s breakfast,” and so on and so on and so on.

Well, in short, the NDIS exists. I believe it’s going to be a bottomless pit, a black hole of bureaucracy. I don’t think it’s ever going to satisfy the needs and in fact it’s only going to pit one group of people against another in some respects, saying, “I’m more disabled than you,” or, “I need more help than you,” so I’m not sure it’s going to achieve the aims that it set out to be.

The bureaucratic nightmare has already been reflected to me – not just by your email but someone I know is a carer and the person is in desperate, desperate need of respite and various other things and navigating the NDIS has been a complete problem for them. So, like a lot of these things, they’re well-meaning, this one is unfunded; it is going to cost so much more money than anyone really thinks and I think it might open up a whole range of new problems.

You finish by saying, “It’s scary how easy the system can be rorted by providers and participants and the bureaucracy is just created this massive divide between participants between how well they can work the system.” Well, Tim, that’s really interesting feedback, mate. I appreciate that. We’ll have a look at it after the election because we can’t afford any more of this ‘gaming’ of the system. Every time government – every time government comes up with some well-intentioned policy someone comes up with a way to scam it. We see it in student visas, we see it in childcare, we see it in the education system, vocation training, on and on and on it goes and every time they put up a new policy they say, “No! It won’t get rorted again! We’ll fix it! We can make it better; we just need more money.” It’s all nonsense. I’m really sorry that you’re finding that, Tim. We’ll see what we can do.

Bryan says he’s “... disappointed your article on taxation didn’t mention the concern of many older people that Labor proposals for SMSF and imputation credits. How fair is it,” blah, blah, blah. Well, Bryan. I’ve mentioned it on a number of occasions. I’m opposed to the changes both in superannuation and franking credits. I can’t say the same thing every week but thank you for your email.

Jeremy: “One matter overlooked with the negative gearing is the deduction of interest paid could be extended to owner-occupied houses. Removes the driving force of envy as well as rewarding those willing to invest in their own homes in the same way they invest in other assets.” You know, you could probably get away with that, Jeremy, if you were prepared to pay Capital Gains Tax on your primary residence. That’s what they do in America. They have a maximum deduction on interest and depending (I don’t even know what the figure is, but there’s a maximum deduction on interest) and then they have an exemption on the sale proceeds being exempt from Capital Gains Tax up to a certain figure. It works over there but you can’t have one without the other; it would be wrong.

Michael: “Could you please advise your party’s policy on the following: water supply to farmlands and potentially drought prone areas.” Yes, I think there should be water supply. We should build more dams and so forth.

“... control over immigration numbers and what type of migrant we want in this country.” Yes, I think we should have control over migration numbers and the type of migrant we want in this country, Michael. I’ve spoken about that a lot – heck of a lot. Can you go to the Conservatives’ website and look up our policy on migration? You’ll find that.

Student Visas: Rosie says, “A quick question related to the abuse of student visas as a means for gaining permanent residence in Australia. The number I hear is 350,000 a year do so – unsustainable. Will your party close this loophole? Will the door to student visa for residence scam be closed?” Rosie, yes. We identified it! We belled the cat on this and we’ve been talking about it for years. It’s a scam and the universities love it because they get rich while we get poorer as a result of students scamming the system to stay here.

Terry says he’d “... love to know your thoughts on this matter. Is it December, the Australian superannuation industry was worth $2.7t? So, what if the laws were changed in this country and just 1% of all super was made compulsory to put into a power and water fund which invested in dispatchable baseload power in the country,” so on and so on and so on. “It’s basically the fund would be taking away from other companies listed on the stock exchange.”

All right. This has the veneer of attractiveness about it, but as soon as you mandate that superannuation has got to be put into particular areas (and particularly ones controlled or influenced by government) you’re effectively nationalising your super.

The problem we’ve got is right around the world, governments have said industry-type funds (pension funds and so forth in America) have to have a minimum amount invested in – say, US treasuries. Now, at the moment that requirement is sending them broke because these funds generally depend upon certain rates of return in order to be able to fund the requirements or their obligations to their members; they’re not all accumulation funds, in other words, they’re defined benefit schemes. And that rate of return is generally around 7 or 8%, by historic norms that’s not too bad but when treasury bonds are proving yields of 1% or something, they’re going backwards and yet they can’t get out of it. It’s a massive Ponzi scheme that is sending them broke and the US federal government is going to have to decide whether they put interest rates up to save the pension funds, but that might send the government broke because they’ve got to pay the interest and it might destroy their economy. See the catch 22? Every decision of government has unintended consequences and sometimes they’re felt for a very long time.

And I believe superannuation is your money. You can decide where you want it invested. You can invest in energy companies, if that’s what you want. You can invest in infrastructure funds, if that’s what you want. I think it makes perfect sense. One superannuation fund (I think it was Australian Super) bought Pacific Hydro (which is a hydropower generating company) holus-bolus for its members. So, they do it but I don’t think it should be government mandated. Government could of course, provide some incentives if that’s what they want to do. They could guarantee a minimum rate of return for long-term funding for serious infrastructure projects like issuing 30 year bonds at 5% and saying, “Oh, we won’t tax you on those,” or whatever the case may be – I’m sure they would beat a path to their door but I’m not sure I would be investing in governments.

Anonymous, ooh, I like anonymous ones. “Please tell me where is the common sense in the AEC? I live in Western Australia. Why do we need three weeks of pre-polls except Saturdays and then all day Saturday, 18 May? Impossible to have volunteers. People checking off the names get big money for this. It’s wrong ... wasteful use of taxpayers money,” and so on.

Well, it an interesting thing. I mentioned earlier: I believe that pre-poll will be reformed by the major parties because it’s not working for them. They can’t corral people down a predictable path if they vote early and so that interferes with their messaging – it makes them a bit more accountable over a longer term and they don’t like that. But, I had no opposition to pre-poll, to be honest. I believe voting should be voluntary. I’ve said that I don’t know that we should be having how-to-vote cards on the booths. If you want a how-to-vote card maybe they can have it stuck up in a little cubicle where you are but, you know, that might be a step too far for some. But ultimately, we need a more informed electorate. We need people who are engaged who only want to be there to cast their vote in a meaningful manner rather than just protesting about the state of something they’re unhappy about and the unforeseen consequences that comes with that.

I’m sure that will prompt a few comments so get back to me: cory@corybernardi.com .

Mike says he’s “... been hearing talk in the community about Labour/Green plans to introduce 40% inheritance tax, also called a ‘death tax’. Have you heard chat on this?” Yes, I have, Mike. I’ve heard it mostly through the media. They all deny it but in their heart of hearts we know that Labor like a death tax and we also know that the Greens endorse, absolutely and publicly endorse a death tax.

Mike says, “Wouldn’t it political suicide to do this socialist act? What are your thoughts?”

Would it be political suicide? I would have though changing Capital Gains Tax, franking credits, tinkering around with bigger and more taxes, fooffing with negative gearings, playing identity politics – they’re all socialistic acts and I’m ... you know, it looks like they’re going to be rewarded.

Garry says, “The Tax Act: it’s time Australia had a Tax Act to tax multi-national companies.” It does. “In short, all multi-national companies will pay a minimum of 49% tax on gross revenue.” My lordy, that’s a lot of money. Really? Why? It would just ... anyway. Look, it wouldn’t fix the problem. 49% of gross revenue? Really? So you’re not allowed to make any deductions on it and you’re asking them to pay half their money in tax? Why would they come here to do business? Doesn’t make sense. So, you’re paying half in tax, you’ve probably got 30% in wages, another 30% in cost of goods – bang! You’re losing money in Australia. Sorry, lost me on that one.

Keith: “I’m pleased to see the Conservatives are absolutely committed to their political agenda and if enough voters back you at the next election then whatever the major parties in power at least the Conservatives will have a strong voice in the Senate.” Hey, I like that. Thank you, mate.

“I have to say, I like the Conservatives and Mr Bernardi.” Well, I like that, too. “Sincerely hope you can make a difference in the next election and the balance of power will rest with you and not some no-name representatives that have no interest in policy or politics in Australia. Good luck. You’ll have my vote.” Thank you, Keith, I really appreciate it.

Dave, he’s got a theory. He says, “Shorten Government policy of reducing CO2 emissions by 50% will drive a number of business off-shore.” Yes, you’re absolutely right. He wants to know “... why this hasn’t been brought up before now.” It is, all the time. It’s about the outsourcing of our industry. It’s very frustrating and the public don’t want to hear it, I regret.

George. Now, George, you had an impact on me already. He goes, “I’d like your opinion on Mark Latham. I see him as a gutsy, straight shooter who should be running One Nation. I’d love to hear from you, mate.” George, I’ve answered your question by getting Mark Latham on the podcast. He is a gutsy, straight shooter. Should he be running One Nation? Well ... it’d be ... the problem is I’d agree with too much, then. As it is now, he’s a bit of an outlier. A lot of the things that he was getting involved in the New South Wales campaign weren’t consistent with what others have said on the other side of the political fence. So, I like Mark Latham and that’s why we got him on the podcast and we want to say ‘thanks you’ for him coming on.

Dave: “Cory, in your most recent podcast you stated the ABC advertisement raised the ire of the leftist groups and individuals. The Greens have been conspicuous by their relative silence on policy in this election campaign. Can you be more specific on the identities of the Left Wing objectives?” Oh, they’re just a bunch of trolls on Twitter – people who email me through. Just individuals, I presume, but I have no doubt they’re part of a larger group, but anyway.

Richard says, “To my complete surprise, I’ve been receiving unsolicited emails from an ACT Senator, Katy Gallagher.” Well, she’s no longer a Senator, actually. She had to resign over citizenship issues. She’s running again, though. “To my knowledge, I’ve never given my email address to anyone associated with the ALP and if I had, I would not have linked it to any information that would identify me as being on the ACT electoral roll. I discovered the distribution list was actually ACT electors.” Look, I hate to break it to you, guys – and I know that people get annoyed at this, but privacy has just about gone. I value privacy – I cherish it, but every time you give your details to some one, some thing, some company, some social media outfit, you’re chipping away at it a little bit because they on-sell it, they provide it wherever. And political parties kind of are exempt – they make the rules so they can do what they like.

Finally, Ben says, “I’ve recently started my journey to become politically engaged and found your views to have common sense. After taking the red pill and identifying as a conservative, my eyes have been opened. My friends proclaim they are free and fight against oppression but they are miserable. When you firmly believe that someone else is responsible for your anger and sadness, how can you not be miserable and bitter? Thank you for your work and all the best for the upcoming election.” Ben, what a great line: “When you firmly believe that someone else is responsible for your anger and sadness, how can you not be miserable and bitter?” Excellent – excellent work, Ben.

I say to my kids, “You cannot control what others do, you cannot control what others say, you cannot really control how they make you feel, but you can control your own reaction and if you let other people dictate your reaction simply by what they say about you or the inferences they might make – if you reduce your own self-determination to the opinions of others, you’ll be sad and angry, miserable and bitter, too.”

Conservatives believe in a better way: live your life in accordance with your views consistent with the law and civil society. Stick up for the things that you believe in and tell the lefty trolls they don’t count.

That’s Your Say for this week. I’ll be back in a moment.

VOICE OVER:   Bringing you more common sense in half-an-hour that a whole year of Their ABC. This is Your Weekly Dose of Common Sense.

CORY BERNARDI:   Well, Common Sense listeners, that’s all we’ve got time for in this episode of the Common Sense podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in. I know it’s been a little bit longer than it normally is but I hope you think it’s worth it. Mark Latham is a legend, you guys are legends and we are going to see politics change on Saturday because no matter what the result, no matter whether your team wins or loses, the country is going to be changed as a result and that’s where we can come to the fore. We can build the Common Sense community, we can hold them to account and we can really make the difference and be the difference that our nation so desperately needs.

So, I look forward to digesting that all with you next week on the Common Sense podcast. Thanks for tuning in.

VOICE OVER:   If you've enjoyed Your Weekly Dose of Common Sense, chip in at conservatives.org.au