Senator welcomes voting reforms


Northern-based LNP Senator Ian Macdonald has welcomed legislation introduced into Parliament today which will return the transparency to voting in Senate elections.

“People right across Northern Australia were outraged at the result in the last Senate election in 2013 which saw a number of minor party candidates elected by the ‘gaming’ of preferences,” Senator Macdonald said. 

“Some of these Senators received a very low first preference vote but through a manipulation of the system, received a quota to get elected.”

There was widespread anger at the way the electoral system could be rorted to get an outcome which voters didn’t vote for, Senator Macdonald said.

He said because of the anger following the election, an inquiry was held by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. This all-party Committee unanimously recommended sweeping changes to the electoral voting system in the Senate.

“I am disappointed that Labor seems to have changed its mind and now supports the continuation of the outrageously unfair and undemocratic system,” Senator Macdonald said.

“I call upon Northern Labor Senator Jan McLucas to explain why her party has changed its mind on the all-party unanimous report of the Parliamentary Committee.

“I am certain that many people who voted for the Greens or Labor at the last election would have been surprised to know that they ensured the election of Clive Palmer’s candidate Glen Lazarus because unbeknown to the voter, the party had allocated preferences to PUP.”

In Queensland, the Clive Palmer party received preferences from Labor, the Greens and Katter.

“These reforms mean that voters will be able to determine their own preferences and not be bound by the official Labor or Greens allocation, and I am confident that Labor and Greens’ voters won’t be preferencing Clive Palmer candidates in the future.” 

“By removing the ability of parties to do back room deals and determine where preferences end up, we will hopefully restore democracy to the Senate voting process,” Senator Macdonald said.

The reforms introduced to the Senate today include:

  • the introduction of optional preferential above the line voting, with advice to the voter on the ballot paper to vote above the line by numbering at least six of the boxes in the order of the voter’s choice (with number one as the first choice)
  • the abolition of group and individual voting tickets
  • a proposal to allow political parties (at their discretion) to have their logo included on the ballot paper to reduce voter confusion between parties with similar names

 

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