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Your Preferences


Did you know that in Qld no political party or candidate can ever give your vote or preferences to anybody else? 

Labor and the LNP love to stoke the myth that a vote for the Greens is a vote for another party, and that Greens will give your preferences to someone else. They’ll also tell you that voting for Greens is a ‘wasted vote’. These furphies have been peddled by them for so long they almost feel real.

Unsurprisingly, they say it to scare people into sticking with them and not voting for Greens. 

This election it’s beginning to look like Labor’s only campaign tactic in the South East, to keep Greens from winning seats, is to tell bigger shinier porkies. It’s pretty sad and grubby; and we expect more to come from the LNP too. I guess they’ll do and say whatever it takes.

Politics doesn’t have to be this way.

So, in case you’re left wondering about any of this, especially after Labor’s latest whopper about Greens imaginary ‘preference deals’ with the LNP, here’s what’s real this election:

🟩 No party or candidate can ever give your vote or your ‘preferences’ to anyone else. Like, NEVER. That’s the law. (If they could, Labor & the LNP would’ve done it by now to stop the surge in Greens votes!). 

🟩 A vote 1 for the Greens is exactly that, a vote for the Greens (YAY!). But your vote won’t count at all if you don’t properly number every square on your ballot.

🟩 Only you can steer where your vote goes if your favourite, most preferred candidate doesn’t get through to the next round of counting. You do that when you number the squares on your ballot in your preferred order

🟩 If your number 1 candidate (your favourite, most preferred) doesn’t get enough votes, the ECQ will redistribute your vote to your number 2. If your number 2 then gets knocked out of the running, they’ll redistribute your vote again, this time to your number 3. They’ll do this until there’s a clear winner (50%of the votes +1). ECQ written explainer

🟩 Choosing your number 1 favourite might be easy, but working out who to give your number 2 preference to - your next ‘best’ option - might be harder. Sometimes it helps to decide who the worst candidate is and then number backwards. Doing it this way can be cathartic! 

The Australian Electoral Commission's utterly factual but completely boring explainer on preferences. 


Juice Media's utterly factual but hilariously profane explainer on preferences.



🟩 The Queensland Greens have categorically ruled out any ‘preference deal’, power-sharing deal, coalition agreement, or guarantee of confidence or supply with the LNP or One Nation.

🟩 Greens members in every branch across Queensland have voted to put One Nation and the LNP last on ‘how-to-vote’ suggestion cards for every seat in Queensland. 

🟩 Because of the LNP’s commitment to job cuts, privatisation, and cuts to essential services, the Greens won’t provide confidence to an LNP government. 



🟩 The law says nobody can tell you how you must vote, which is why the preference order on a How-to-Vote card can only ever be a suggestion.

🟩 How-to-Vote suggestion cards given out at polling booths can be a handy guide if you’re not sure who the candidates or parties are or what they stand for. Most people are happy to take a card from the party they trust most. These days parties make them available online as well. 

🟩 For Greens How-to-Vote cards, our members each get to vote on the order they want to see listed on the suggestion card for their electorate. (Locally informed, grassroots in action!). 



Labor and the LNP are happy to use and abuse voter confusion around preferences to secure peoples’ #1 vote. So why the confusion in the first place? 


Party Preferences & Preference Deals

🟩  Media will often say that a candidate won a seat because of another party’s preferences. Many articles about the electorate of McConnel state that Labor’s 2017 win was due to Greens preferences. So how can they say this was the case if it’s impossible under the law? Unfortunately, the problem lies in the interpretation. Media statements like that mentioned here are really just a shorthand way of saying, ‘the preferences of individual Greens voters in McConnel flowed to Labor more so than the LNP, which led to Labor securing the seat in 2017’.

Or in more detail:

‘When the ECQ was satisfied that the Greens candidate had not secured enough #1 votes to see them continue through to the final count, all #1 votes that initially went to that candidate were then redistributed in line with each voter’s #2 preference. Through this redistribution process, a sufficient number of those individual voters gave a higher preference to Labor than to the LNP, which ultimately led to the LNP being excluded and Labor winning the seat’.  

Obviously that’s way too long for a news article! And sadly we’re left with shorthand that reinforces the inaccurate perception that the Greens party gave people’s preferences away.   

🟩  Adding to the confusion, the old Federal Senate Group Voting Tickets once allowed voter preferences to be redirected by parties and candidates. The 2016 federal election marked the end of ‘Group Voting Tickets’ in Federal Senate elections. However, this old Senate voting method is still in the collective voter consciousness even though it never applied for other elections. Many preference deals were done between parties and candidates under this system. Greens pushed to end that process and helped vote in reforms prior to the 2016 Federal election to ensure greater transparency for voters.   

🟩  Another point of confusion regarding ‘preference deals’ relates to How-to-Vote suggestion cards. Candidates and parties will sometimes negotiate with one another when deciding the order they place candidates on their respective How-to-Vote cards. This negotiation process is also referred to as a ‘preference deal’ even though no preferences can be shifted anywhere. The order on HTVs is important because some voters do use the HTVs to guide them when they vote. 

🟩  Unlike the other parties, the Greens preference order for HTVs is decided by Greens members who vote on the order through their local Greens branch in advance of an election and well before any ‘negotiations’ could theoretically take place. 

🟩  Greens members across the state, for every branch in Qld, have already voted that LNP and One Nation will be last on HTVs for each and every seat. There’s no negotiating that away. 

🟩 And in case you missed it, the Queensland Greens have categorically ruled out any ‘preference deal’, power-sharing deal, coalition agreement, or guarantee of confidence or supply with the LNP or One Nation. 

The Wasted Vote

🟩 We might have compulsory preferential voting for State and Federal elections, but we only have optional preferential voting for council. This means for State and Federal elections, you must number every square or your vote won’t be counted at all. Whereas for local government elections you don’t have to number every square for your vote to be counted. But if you don’t, your vote will exhaust when your numbers run out. So, if you vote 1 Greens and don’t number the other squares, you don’t get to choose a back-up. That’s where the idea of a wasted vote comes from. Your greatest voting power comes from being able to number every square. (I’ll always number every square to make it harder for the worst candidate or candidates to be elected!).