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How I Recommend You Vote In The Coming Federal Election

Date: 08/05/2019

The Federal election is on Saturday, May 18th – only a few weeks away! Have you decided for whom you’re going to vote? If not, this article may help.

Voting – Choice Or Chore?

It’s easy to take what you have for granted. Where you live or work. Your partner and what s/he does for you. And the right to not only cast a vote, but to do so without fear of violence, coercion or reprisals based on your choice. It is not the same in other countries, where voting can be rigged, or could be downright dangerous to your health. 

Given you have the freedom and the right to vote, which was hard fought to protect, I urge you to use it and not cast it aside as irrelevant or inconsequential. Yes, we’re all a bit ambivalent towards politicians, and often for good reason, but let’s not confuse that with respecting and protecting our right to have a say by casting our vote.

Which Camp Are You In?

Which of the following six camps are you in?

Group 1 – Loyalists

Loyalists are those who vote according to custom or tradition, and feel like they’re being disloyal if they vote any other way. Perhaps your grandparents and parents have all voted a certain way, and, like your favourite sporting team, barracking or supporting any other team would be close to treasonous.

If that’s you, then so be it. It probably doesn’t matter what each political party’s, or individual candidates, policies are; on principle you’re convinced that one mob is better than all the others, and that’s that.

I used to be a loyalist, but then I realised that this approach is sort of squandering the ability to choose the best person with the best skills, experience and wherewithal to represent my interests (which change over time) in the political coliseum of Canberra (which also changes over time). Surely it can’t be the same person or party in every circumstance, every time, can it?

Group 2 – Intellectuals

The second group are those who reason through how they’ll vote. You’re in this camp if you go to the effort to find out who your local candidates are, what their policies are, and to think through who offers you the most upside for the least downside, and vote accordingly.

You might have a bias about who you normally ‘align’ with, but you’re not wedded to them and are open to considering another person or party if they show you a compelling reason to vote for them.

I used to be an intellectual, but suffered from information overload leading to analysis paralysis. I also became disillusioned that too many politicians say one thing and generally do another, so what’s the point?

Group 3 – Idealists

Idealists align themselves to an ideal, or a cause, and vote with the person or party that best aligns to that cause. Marriage equality, penalty rates, climate action, etc. are all ideals that many people feel strongly about.

The problem with being an idealist is that no candidate, nor political party, will perfectly mesh with all your ideals, meaning you’re going to have to compromise on one or more important principles, and that can lead to personal conflict.

For instance, one candidate might have a climate policy you support, but not align on immigration. Perhaps they have a health policy that you think is great, but not their stance on, say, franking credit refunds.

The risk with being an idealist is that you align to a broad cause or vision, without understanding the details of exactly how or what will happen to achieve it. This means that you can end up casting an aspirational vote, but end up becoming despondent and disillusioned when action is delayed or discontinued.

Group 4 –Self Sacrificers

A ballot self sacrificer is someone who votes in a way that Spock would be proud of; believing the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That is, they vote in a way they think would be best for the country, even if it means it will be bad for them – for instance, by providing better payments to pensioners at the cost of having to pay more income tax.

If this is you, then thank you for your sacrifice.

Group 5 – Protesters

This group has a bee in their bonnet and wants to cast what I call an ‘angry’ or ‘hear me’ vote. Something, or someone, has upset them and, feeling unable to express their anger in any other way, they will take the opportunity to vent at the ballot box.

This is me in this election. My local member is going last on my House of Reps ballot paper. Why? Well, after many requests he reluctantly finally met with me, and it became clear that he was only there for himself and his party.  That is, I was there to serve his purposes, not the other way round. Maybe I was being a little naïve in my thinking, but being told to run off to bed and let the adults talk about important issues was such a put down that I’ll be voting for anyone but him.

Now, having decided who I’m not voting for, I switched back to being part intellectual, part idealist to see who else is available.

Group 6 – Informals & Donkeys

This final group either don’t like being made to vote, or else they don’t care who is elected, so they will either randomly or thoughtlessly cast their vote, or else they’ll ensure their vote doesn’t count at all.

I’m always amused by the stories of what people draw on their voting papers – a penis, an elephant, angry words, etc.


Unless you’re a staunch loyalist, it’s unlikely that you reside in just one camp. Instead you’ll belong to two or more of the six groups outlined above, and you might even move between them as time and circumstances change. That said, which group(s) are you in at this time, and why?

Who is getting your vote this time, and why?

Here’s how I recommend you vote… honestly and humbly.

Be honest to yourself, and with yourself. Understand why you vote the way you do rather than doing it in a pre-programmed or mindless manner.

Be humble. Appreciate and value a great freedom you have – something that citizens of some other countries don’t have – your chance to have a fair, equal and important say in the future of the nation. You’ll find the right vote – the best vote – for you at the intersection of your own honest and humble reflection.

All the best,

– Steve McKnight

 P.S. On an intellectual and idealist level, I found that SmartVote was a useful tool that helped me to decide which candidate is most aligned to my own values.

It’s an online questionnaire published by Australia National University. I recommend it to you. Here’s the link:


Profile photo of Steve McKnight

By Steve McKnight

Steve McKnight, the founder of, is a respected property investing authority as well as Australia's #1 best-selling business author.


  1. Peter Coole

    Hi Steve
    Another great article, I was first a little miffed that you should want to “advise” how to vote, but soon realised that you have put together a great summary on how to decide who we should vote for.

    Congrats and Happy Birthday ;-)


    Pete (from Perth)

  2. Kev

    It might be nice if instead of selecting a party your ballot paper was just a list of policies with check boxes you could tick for or against boxes that you could number in sequence of importance to you. Through that process, the parties that most align would get the relevant percentage of your vote. Just trying to think outside the box as the existing system is far from working efficiently.

    • Richard Hulme

      I think that is a great idea. getting closer to the issues that are important to the population. Just a matter of figuring out the practicalities of how it would work. Any way, well done for thinking outside the box.

  3. Nyomie

    i think SmartVote has big flaws. It doesn’t and can’t drill down to policy level or party intentions, just entrenches loyalist tendencies by enabling people to label themselves or camp into a type of voter.. I don’t think it’s an effective tool at all.

  4. Alison

    We were discussing that idea the other day. There should be a list of their policies under each party (more paperwork I know ugh). A referendum of sorts, I suppose.
    Step 1. Select your candidate/party
    Step 2. Select which of their policies you are voting for.
    At least then, when you are an idealist (even partially), you would be voting without compromising your principles.

  5. Juerg Nydegger

    I agree with your comments Steve…especially the ” appreciate what you got ” part.
    However…sorry this is going to be quite lengthy and i will probably bore people!
    I think it too important not to bore you!
    Matter of fact…the lying ,promises and deceit that is currently going on encouraged me to write this!
    I came to this unbelievably beautiful country in 1982 as a 22 year old. I was born in Switzerland.
    I had about $ 4000 to my name. I have worked hard and now have a few assets to my name.
    I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to achieve what i have. (Had i known Steve and his excellent education i could have done a whole lot better!) Australia has been good to me.
    Yes Switzerland is, like so many places in the world, beautiful as well. But, it simply does not compare to OZ!
    Those of you who have travelled around OZ know what i am talking about.
    As i grew up i did not think much about politics…it was not such a in your face part of life…not at that age and stage anyhow. Things simply seemed to function and argy bargy a la Australian Politics was almost unheard of. When i got here i firstly had other issues to deal with and politics were somewhat under control…more or less.
    The ruling party usually had a workable majority. Things did not stay that way. The last twelve years have been a bit of a disaster for Australia politically. It has made me aware as to what is wrong with the system.
    I remembered how the Swiss System works. It is not perfect…but…what we have experienced lately could never happen to the Swiss.
    Matter of fact, if companies were structured along the Westminster System, they would be broke in no time.
    If parents operated like our major parties are forced to ( because of the flawed set up…dysfunctional and opposing) they end up with “unbalanced kids”. We as taxpayers and ultimately the employers of the pollies get a miserable return. Australia could be on top of the World in every aspect. It is the Westminster System that lets us down! Look at Great Britain…similar problems. The US, yes a little different but also not that well governed. There are plenty of others.
    Tasmania is one and a half times larger than Switzerland. Yet in Switzerland there are 26 Kantons ( States). They have Councils, State Governments with Upper and Lower House, Federal Government with Upper House and Lower House. With other words, lots of politicians and politics
    There is one major difference. Instead of one party or a coalition ruling the country it is the Bundesrat that governs the country. It is like a Board of Directors. Hence my comment earlier re companies.
    The members of the Bundesrat get elected by the Lower House nominating people that the party put up for selection. The parties put up candidates proportional to the votes they received during the election.
    The result is that the SEVEN positions are from varied parties. Some parties might have two positions. Put generally there are four or more parties represented as a whole. Each member looks after two to three portfolios.
    The members are forced to work together, they take votes and because of the SEVEN positions there is always a result. Decisions get made! The country is governed! BHP, Wesfarmers and every public company has a board of directors that basically operates the same way.
    This system has been developed for for over 700 years and has been in its current form since around 1850.
    I know that it is the basis for Switzerlands success, peace and progress.
    The buying of votes with borrowed money, kowtowing to minorities, unions, and the crazy election circus simply do not eventuate. Lobbying is difficult because a majority of members would need to be approached.
    Below is a link to a project that took 17 years to build and some areas are still being expanded and worked on.
    This is merely one of many projects of similar scale.
    It is akin to the Snowy Project. Can you imagine something like that being undertaken today?
    My point is this, yes we have a better system than many countries in the world.
    One simple change would make it almost perfect.
    A lot of the uncertainty would disappear.
    Our political capital would create much much better returns!

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