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Greens plan to end backroom Senate preference deals

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 2 Sep 2013

The Australian Greens will introduce legislation to end backroom preference deals and enhance the democratic process by returning to voters the power to control their Senate preference flow. 

“The experience with parties’ Senate group voting tickets in this election has again underlined the need to put preference decisions back in the hands of voters," Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

“The Greens support Optional Preferential Above-The-Line Voting to strengthen the democratic system. 

“Optional Preferential Above-The-Line Voting would abolish group voting tickets, instead allowing voters to allocate preferences to parties above the line. It will remove the power of party officials to control a voter’s Senate preference flow.

“This system protects the rights of all people to run for elections while removing the incentive for parties to form smaller front parties for the purpose of harvesting votes through preferences.

“This form of voting will stop the backroom party deals. We will initiate talks with other parties on this critical issue. 

“In 1999 my Greens plan for Optional Preferential Above-The-Line Voting for the NSW Upper House was adopted by the state parliament. 

“The NSW state election experience shows that front parties are not created when the backroom deals to harvest preferences no longer bring a reward,” said Senator Rhiannon.

Greens NSW Senate candidate Cate Faehrmann said, “Action is needed to strengthen the democratic process. 

“This election has shown that reform of the federal Senate voting system is overdue.

“Voters are appalled that their vote above the line for one party could see a candidate from another party they don’t support at all getting elected. 

“I would be very surprised if anyone who votes 1 above the line for the Wikileaks Party for example would want their vote to elect a Shooters Party Senator, but this is now the reality after the two parties did a preference deal.

“Reform is needed to strengthen the democratic process and restore voters’ confidence in their Senate vote,” said Ms Faehrmann.

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