Senate voting reform that would end the back room party preference deals and allow voters to determine their preferences is the key recommendation in a parliamentary committee report released today, Senator Lee Rhiannon Greens democracy spokesperson said.
Senator Rhiannon is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters and a long term advocate of optional preferential voting. In 1999 in NSW on behalf of the Greens she won support of Labor and the Coalition for similar voting reform for the NSW Legislative Council.
"The committee recommendations set out a clear path to restore public confidence by ensuring it is voter intent that determines who is elected to the Senate, not deals between political parties," Senator Rhiannon said.
"The recommendation on voters determining their own preferences is consistent with the model that Greens have been calling for many years.
"The proposed reforms do not restrict the right of any party or candidate to run in an election.
"These changes when adopted will mean that the makeup of future Senates will reflect the informed decision of the voters.
"The recommendations include optional preferential voting above the line, partial preferential voting below the line, removal of group voting tickets and some changes to party registration.
"There was overwhelming support for optional preferential voting from experts, political parties and a number of organisations.
"I welcome that the report recognises the importance of not raising the bar on new political parties entering an election campaign.
"The report recommends an increase to party membership requirements, which is lower than the figure pushed for by Labor and the Coalition in their submissions. Additionally a party will be able to register to field candidates in a particular state or territory with a lower membership determined on a proportional population basis.
"The committee did not recommend an increase in any costs associated with running in an election. However, existing fee levels could make it difficult for emerging parties so I have introduced the Greens Reducing Barriers for Minor Parties Bill for debate in the Senate.
"I welcome multi-party support for these democratic changes.
"I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues on legislation to implement these positive reforms to make our voting system more democratic," Senator Rhiannon said.
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