1. What are SOL’s objectives?
To offer Australians the opportunity to develop their own informed opinion on bills (being presented to parliament) and issues shaping our nation and for those opinions to be clearly heard. We believe this can be achieved by:
Reaching as many people as possible through an easily accessible medium: the Internet;
Giving Australians access to accurate information and balanced argument on each bill before parliament and the important issues facing our nation;
Offering people the opportunity to vote on the bills and important issues concerning them and their wider community;
Tallying the votes and determining the clear majority voice which will then be SOL’s view for the vote on each bill;
Giving the majority voice a chance to be clearly heard in parliament above that of the vocal minority, not influenced by party politics or by deal doing.
To encourage more people to have a greater involvement in our social and political issues;
To make our Australian political process more progressive;
To promote social and environmental change; and
To actively encourage the government of the day to be accountable when presenting the case for either new or changes to legislation.
Please check out our objectives pages.
2. Who can vote on each Bill or Issue?
Every person recorded on the Australian Electoral roll will be entitled to join SOL, without any membership fees, as a ‘poll member’. Every poll member has one vote on each bill or issue. To participate in SOL’s voting process, the poll member will need access to the Internet.
3. Once I vote can I change my vote?
Yes, any time before voting on a bill or issue closes.
4. Will my vote count?
Every vote will count.
Where there is a clear majority view, which will be when there have been 100,000 votes cast and there is a 70% majority view, this will become the SOL party view. In the event of votes being less than 100,000 or the majority not reaching 70%, a clear majority view may be able to be determined by the party, otherwise the party’s view will be to abstain from voting.
Under no circumstances can or will Senator On-Line’s party view be that of the minority view as indicated in the on-line poll.
SOL senators will commit in writing to vote in accordance with the party view.
5. Could a SOL senator elected by one state vote against a SOL senator elected by a different state?
Yes, unlike other political parties who expect all their senators to carry the same view, irrespective of which state they have been elected by. Senator On-Line’s party view may differ for different states as it respects that senators elected by a particular state are incumbent to be considerate of that state’s specific concerns. As such different state SOL senators may vote differently but will require that a clear majority view can be determined by the on-line poll (100,000 state votes and a 70% majority). In the event of votes being less than 100,000 or the majority not reaching 70%, then that state’s SOL senator may vote in accordance with the state’s majority view, if a clear majority view can be determined by the party or otherwise the national poll results will be the relevant poll. If a state or territory has less than 1,000,000 people on the Australian Electoral roll then the 100,000 votes hurdle will be 10% of the then enrolled voters. For example, Tasmania would have (approximately) a 35,000 vote hurdle.
6. How can SOL ensure its senators vote in accordance with the majority view?
Before being endorsed and nominated as a SOL candidate for the Senate, they will be asked to undertake in writing that they agree to be bound by the party view on bills before the Senate. SOL asks that persons considering candidature for the party only accept nomination on this basis. By asking for a pre-nomination commitment to the premise that the party view is binding, SOL is emphasising to its potential senators that this point goes to the heart of the party’s philosophy.
7. Is security a major issue?
Website security is paramount.
The confidentiality of individuals’ details together with the integrity of the voting process and its results are critically important.
All information between the user and the SOL server will be encrypted. All SOL servers will operate under best practice security conditions.
8. Will multiple voting occur?
SOL can ensure that only one vote per person registered on the Australian Electoral roll occurs.
As a registered political party, SOL is entitled to a copy of the Australian Electoral roll. When voting as a SOL poll member, each person has one vote per bill or issue. Once a person has voted, they will be ‘marked off’ the electoral roll and will not be able to vote on that particular bill or issue again. They can change their vote but this will not count as another vote, it simply supersedes the original.
9. How does the voting process ensure that SOL’s polls are bona fide?
The validity of poll members’ identity and the integrity of the on-line voting are paramount to the party reaching its goals.
To help ensure a bona fide process, anyone applying to be a poll member will be required to register on SOL’s website.
The poll member registration process will include but will not be limited to:
Confirming personal details, including date of birth, home address and middle names, against the Australian Electoral roll
There will be further verification of a person’s ‘bona fides’. This will be an automated process likely to be similar to the PayPal verification process where the applicant will nominate a bank account in their name. SOL would deposit two (2) amounts between 10 cents and $1.00. The applicant would need to confirm these amounts back to SOL.
Once a person’s bona fides are established then issuing a user name and password which the poll member must use when voting.
SOL will investigate occurrences of common information existing (for example, email contacts, bank accounts, and computer links) where the poll members have different addresses. When an application for poll membership is received and the identity already belongs to an existing member, SOL will investigate the matter. The investigation will include any links to the fraudulent application.
With these procedures in place, SOL is confident that, for each bill or issue, there will be one vote per person on the Australian Electoral roll. Further the greater number of people joining SOL the less likelihood of someone fraudulently registering. In fact under the SOL voting method there is arguably less opportunity of fraudulent voting as compared with traditional voting at polling booths, where the identity of the voter is not verified, there is little to stop those who wish to “vote early and often”.
10. Will this result in the country being run by the majority view?
SOL will only run candidates in federal elections for the Upper House, that is, the Senate. SOL will not run candidates for the federal Lower House, that is, the House of Representatives.
If SOL were fortunate, then it would have the balance of power in one house of parliament.
SOL is an independent party. It is not aligned to any other political party.
It is neither Liberal nor Labor, where a party view can be determined by the people interested in a specific issue.
Unlike all other independent parties, SOL will not be influenced by party politics, by political deals or by a vocal minority.
SOL’s purpose is to be an independent voice for the majority view of its poll members, which should be representative of the Australian public.
SOL’s view is that Australia needs strong leadership.
A strong leader will educate and inform, not leave people feeling uncertain
A strong leader will ask questions, not think they are all-knowing
A strong leader will be interested in the community not themselves
A strong leader will look to the future, not live in the past.
SOL will be an aid to such leaders.
SOL will provide accurate information and balanced argument. SOL will allow people to become more involved in political debate. SOL will be an accurate barometer of public opinion. SOL is part of the future development of politics.
11. What types of membership does SOL have?
There are broadly two types of membership.
The first is the ‘poll member’. Persons registered on the Australian Electoral roll are eligible to apply for SOL poll membership and can vote on all bills and issues. There are no membership fees in being a poll member.
The second type of membership has three categories. They are the foundation, ordinary and senior memberships. These members can vote at SOL party meetings. Voting will occur mainly when there are changes to the SOL constitution or when there is a change on the SOL executive. These members can not be members of any other political party.
12. How can I become a foundation, ordinary or senior member?
Foundation membership was available to those who joined prior to SOL applying for registration as a new political party with the Australian Electoral Commission and is closed.
Senior membership is granted to ordinary members who remain full financial members for ten years. Anyone interested in joining as an ordinary member, can apply after a SOL senator first sits in the Senate.
13. Will SOL senators vote against the majority view?
Under the SOL constitution, SOL senators are required to vote in accordance with the party’s view. The party has been set up to represent the clear majority view. SOL will use on-line polls to ascertain if there is a clear majority view. Where a poll indicates a clear majority view (that being at least 100,000 votes and at least a 70% majority view) SOL senators have committed to vote in accordance with that majority view. In the event of votes being less than 100,000 or the majority not reaching 70%, then the SOL senators have committed to vote in accordance with the majority view, if a clear majority view can be determined by the party or otherwise abstain.
14. Can a vote be stacked by an organised lobby group?
The integrity of the polls is paramount. We are taking steps to ensure that it would be difficult for an organised group to hijack a poll.
The SOL executive will consider the effect that significant, biased and inaccurate campaigns run by organised groups might have on SOL’s on-line polling. The executive will also consider computer analysis of SOL’s polled votes if any unusual activity or voting patterns surrounding a vote is reported.
Bills not of national significance will probably poll less than the minimum 100,000 votes that SOL’s constitution requires to determine a party majority view. When less than 100,000 votes are polled, the SOL executive, including senators, will determine if a clear majority view is reached.
SOL expects that issues of national significance will result in large numbers of votes, especially given the extensive access to the Internet and because it will be easy to register as a poll member and vote. With a 70% threshold for a majority vote and polling numbers beyond 100,000, it will be difficult for an organised group to change a vote’s outcome.
15. Can the party be hijacked by an organised group?
It is important that over the next few elections the SOL objectives and founders stay in place. The constitution provides some powerful protection to ensure the party objectives and executive remain stable for this election and the next.
The constitution provides that members found to be part of a party stacking exercise may be expelled from the party and their votes cancelled.
Ordinary member applicants will be required to provide a statutory declaration setting out their current and/or former association with any organised groups.
16. Will I receive unnecessary emails or spam as a result of registering as a poll member?
SOL will not give individuals’ details to any other person or organisation. SOL will only contact a member when requested or if appropriate.
17. Will SOL’s view be representative of the nation’s view?
About 70% of Australians currently have access to the internet either at home or at work. The percentage is greater when those with access through their local library or educational institution are included. If the issue is important enough, then the party’s view should be representative given the portion of people with internet access.
SOL expects that the number of people with access to the internet will continue to grow.
18. Will SOL’s financial records be published and audited?
SOL’s annual financial accounts will be audited and the results published on its website.
19. Who can gain financially out of SOL’s success?
SOL is and will remain a not-for-profit Organisation. Any revenue generated from the website or other sources will be used primarily to pay for independent research on bills and issues. Revenue will also be used to pay for party administration costs.
Currently, SOL executives are not remunerated.
Depending on their time commitments, remuneration may be paid to executives in the future. If remuneration is paid to executives, it will be:
limited to an equivalent time portion of a federal senator’s remuneration;
approved unanimously by the SOL executive; and
disclosed in the annual audited accounts.
20. How will I know when a new bill is presented to parliament?
At registration time poll members will be asked which bills or issues they would like to be notified about by email. A poll member may receive notice on every bill before Parliament and all issues on the website or just those that affect that member.
21. What types of issues does SOL believe may be on the post-election website?
They may include nuclear power or not, desalination or recycled water, euthanasia or ‘natural’ death. Any issue that receives over 10,000 endorsements will be included.
22. Will the SOL post-election website be live when the SOL senators sit for the first time in parliament?
The makeup of the Upper House of Parliament will not change until 1st July after the election. The time lag between an election and the first sitting date in July should allow enough time for the post-election website to be in place.
23. What input will SOL senators have?
Although SOL senators will give a written commitment to vote with the party’s majority view, they will
have their views on each bill or issue posted on the website.
input as a SOL executive in deciding if a clear majority view can be determined where a poll does not present a clear majority view, i.e. not more than 70% of the vote or less than 100,000 votes.
24. Overview of Australian Government and how SOL would fit in
At the upcoming federal election all persons on the Australian Electoral roll will be required to vote twice on Election Day.
Once for the House of Representatives (the Lower House) and once for the Senate (the Upper House).
Australia is divided into 150 electoral divisions each with between 20,000 and 70,000 voters. From each of these divisions voters elect a person (commonly referred to as their “local member”) to represent them in parliament in the Lower House (The House of Representatives).
The Upper House or Senate is made up of 76 senators, 12 from each state and two from each territory.
SOL will only be running candidates for the Senate.
Each proposed change to federal laws or proposed new laws are presented to Parliament and are referred to as a “Bill”. The Bill needs to be first passed by a majority of members of the Lower House and if it is passed here it then will be presented to the Upper House. If passed by a majority of senators in the Upper House the Bill is enacted and the laws changed.
As such SOL senators will be able to clearly express the majority view when on each Bill that is presented to parliament.
25. Who will be the SOL Senate Candidates?
SOL will seek two people in each state that it would endorse as its senate candidates.
26. Is Senator On-Line associated in anyway with or does it receive funding from any other political party, association or lobby group?
No. Senator On-Line is independent.
Berge Der Sarkissian (www.bergedersarkissian.com.au) has provided the original concept and initial funding of the party. Senator On-Line is supported by an executive committee and 510 foundation members.
Senator On-Line’s constitution provides powerful protection to ensure the party remains independent.
27. What was SOL’s 2007 federal election preferences?
Firstly to minor parties that we believe represent the majority view, these include:
Coalition for Climate Change, Carers Alliance, Conservatives for Climate and Environment and What Women What.
Secondly The Australian Democrats as their overall philosophy stems from the majority view.
Thirdly the Australian Labor Party (Vic, Qld & SA) and the Greens(NSW & WA), as it is important to better balance the Senate (there were 39 Liberal/National senators Vs 28 Labor senators prior to the 2007 election resulting in the senate not able to act as a house of review).
Fourthly the Liberal Party and then Family First.
Last, those parties which we think do not represent the majority view.