Proportional electoral voting, such as that used to elect the members to the Australian Senate, are fairer and far more effective than preferential voting systems. Do you agree?

This assignment requires you to write an essay plan that will form the basic framework for your final essay. The purpose of the task is to:
• introduce you to the practice of essay writing at the tertiary level
• to get you started early on building a research base of relevant sources
• to encourage you to think carefully about how you will structure the essay and address the essay question.
• This essay plan will form the foundation for Assignment 3B: Research essay. Your essay plan will help you develop a sense of the shape your essay will take. It also means you can be more strategic in the research you undertake.
Your essay question
Proportional electoral voting, such as that used to elect the members to the Australian Senate, are fairer and far more effective than preferential voting systems. Do you agree?
Step 1: Do your research and create an annotated bibliography
Research several articles on your topic and create an annotated bibliography.
Step 2: Familiarise yourself with the requirements
An essay plan should:
• provide a clear outline of the arguments you intend to make in your final essay
• detail how you will structure your essay
• identify key findings from the articles you have read for your annotated bibliography
• provide a brief outline of some of the key articles you will draw on in completing the essay.
Your article selection will be assessed on reliability and relevance to the essay question.
Step 3: Build your essay plan
When preparing to answer an essay question, it is important that you understand it well. Underline key words and identify their function.
Your essay plan should be divided into sections and provide a brief outline of what will be included in each section, by using dot points or normal prose. Structurally you should include:
• an introduction
• three to five main points
• a conclusion.
Sample essay plan
Sample essay question
Examine the rise in electoral support for minor parties and independent candidates. Does this change represent a fundamental shift in the voting behaviour of the Australian electorate? What are the implications (if any) of this shift for the stability of the Australian political system?
Introduction: Outline purpose of paper and what will be argued.
• 2016 federal election represented high-water mark for minor party and independent vote in House of Representatives and Senate.
• 2016 result though is just latest in broader trend of rising support for minor parties/independents which suggests that change is part of a more fundamental long-term shift in voting behaviour away from two party system.
• This is likely to lead to more independent and minor party candidates in parliament and more instances of minority government which has the potential to undermine the stability of the two-party system.
Main Points
Section 1: Expand on shift in electoral support for minor party candidates and independents.
• This section will use Australian Electoral Commission statistics to demonstrate medium to long term trends in voting patterns at federal level (House of Representatives and Senate).
• Data shows significant upwards trend in support for minor parties/independents since mid-1970s (trend has not been linear though with reversals in 1983; 1993; 2004; 2007).
Section 2: Argue that these trends represent a fundamental rather than a transitional shift in voting patterns/electoral support.
• This section will argue that this is demonstrated by length of trend (1984 election onwards in particular).
• Fundamental nature of trend is also demonstrated by changes in party identification. (Explain concept; use existing survey data to demonstrate change; and explain why it is significant –ie. it demonstrates declining loyalty to major parties and likelihood of increased volatility in party support)
Section 3: Outline implications for stability of Australian political system.
• Main implication is potential for increased instability of political system.
• Minority government increasingly likely as per Gillard/Rudd government and increased tendency for minority government at state level. This has the potential to lead to shorter government terms/more frequent elections.
• As well as greater potential for minority government, the shift will also potentially lead to greater minority control of Senate at federal level/upper house at state level.
• This causes instability/uncertainty in policy direction (demonstrate using examples such as carbon tax; GST etc)
• Also raises issue of accountability and transparency as negotiations between government and minor parties take place out of public view
• Counter argument is that broader representation of viewpoints associated with rise of minor parties and independents aids long-term stability of political system by giving voice to disparate groups/interests.
• This point is countered by tendency of minor party government to stagnate or become stultified in terms of policy direction/effective government.
Conclusion: Summarise argument/draw together main points.
Summarise your argument and key points and refer back to the essay question. You can mention broader recommendations or impacts or future research that is required.
Hint: It is important to remember that you are summarising what you have already discussed and you will not be introducing new information.
Reference list
Throughout your essay plan, you should have included in-text citations from peer-reviewed scholarly texts that support your argument and these resources will need to be compiled into your final reference list.
There are four parts to an annotated bibliographic entry:
1. The citation information is in the same format as it would be in the reference list
1. A short statement of what the text is about
2. A short summary of the argument & findings
1. Short statements on the credibility, currency and bias of the source
1. The usefulness of the source to the essay
Assignment criteria
1. Essay plan structure.
2. Citation style.
3. Article selection.
4. Critical evaluation.

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