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Senate outcome highlights need for reform – voter control of preference flows

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 8 Sep 2013

With two Senate candidates, polling less than one per cent of the vote, on track to win off backroom preference deals, Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has renewed her party’s call for electoral reform to allow voters the right to determine their Senate preference flow in above-the-line voting. 

“I am sure many voters in this election would be concerned that their above-the-line Senate vote helped elect a party with values quite different from the one they voted for,” Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

“We must end the backroom preference deals to safeguard the standing of the Senate. In NSW we achieved this reform after the 1999 giant tablecloth ballot paper election with the Greens plan adopted for all preference decisions to be made by the voter.

“The problem can be readily addressed by introducing Optional Preferential Above-The-Line Voting for the Senate. This will strengthen the democratic system. 

“The current Senate results highlight the need to abolish group voting tickets so we remove the power of party officials to control the Senate preference flow where voters have cast their vote above the line.

“The benefit of this reform is that it does not limit new parties forming but it removes the incentive for parties to form smaller front parties for the purpose of harvesting votes through preferences. It also means a candidate is much less likely to be elected off a miniscule vote.

“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, and a party’s primary vote more accurately reflects its chance of winning,” said Senator Rhiannon.

Senate results 

-       According to ABC Antony Green’s Senate calculator -

o   In Victoria the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, polling just 0.52 per cent of the vote is on track to win a Senate seat at the expense of the Liberals.

o   In WA the Australian Sports Party polling just 0.22 per cent of the vote is on track to win a Senate seat instead of the Labor Party.


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