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Greens welcome support for Senate voting reform

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 28 Apr 2014

Senator Lee Rhiannon, Australian Greens democracy spokesperson, has welcomed the decision of the Labor and Liberal parties to support Senate voting reforms that would abolish Group Voting Tickets.

“We welcome multi-party support for a system that the public and the experts prefer. These reforms would take power away from political parties and put it in the hands of voters”, Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

Senator Rhiannon was responding to the major parties’ new positions on Optional Preferential Voting, which have been set out in their submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM). The new positions are consistent with the model that Greens have been calling for many years.

“Under the present Senate voting system when a vote is cast above the line the preference flow has already been determined by backroom party deals.

“The recent Senate election saw some Senators elected with less than one per cent of the vote and voters finding their preferences allocated to parties they did not support.

“This reform does not impact on the democratic right of minor parties to stand for election, but ensures that preferences only flow in the direction the voter chooses”, she said.

Senator Rhiannon has been a long-term advocate of electoral reform since she was a member of the NSW Upper House.

“The Greens have been working for Upper House voting reform since the late 1990s. In NSW, we successfully spearheaded the campaign to get rid of group voting tickets.

“Experience in NSW, where three elections have been held under the Optional Preferential Voting system, shows that the system works and small parties aren’t locked out. Instead, they have to build support in the community rather than relying on front parties and labyrinthine preference flows”, she said.

Senator Rhiannon that these reforms have widespread public support.

“Former Greens leader Senator Brown called for a similar reform to the Senate voting in 2010 and I did so again prior to the 2013 election. Since then, thousands of Australians have signed a Greens petition calling for Optional Preferential Voting to be introduced into the Senate.

“I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues on legislation to implement these positive reforms to make our voting system more democratic”.

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