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Senate voting reform about ending backroom preference deals

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 16 Apr 2015

Australian Greens spokesperson for democracy Senator Lee Rhiannon has today reaffirmed her party’s support for Senate voting reform and criticised Senator David Leyonhjelm’s self-interested opposition to giving voters greater control of their preferences.

“Reforming the Senate voting system to take power out of the hands of political parties and backroom preference negotiators and give voters control over their vote is a fundamentally important and necessary democratic reform,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“An inquiry conducted by the Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters (JSCEM) backed this reform and it is supported by the major parties, the Greens, Nick Xenophon, the Pirate Party and the Future Party, as well as independent experts and respected electoral analyst Antony Green.

“Contrary to wild and misleading accusations from Senator Leyonhjelm, such a reform does not impact in anyway the ability of minor and micro parties to run for election and get elected.

“Similar reform of the NSW Legislative Council in 1999 did not hinder the ability of minor parties to run for election, in fact the final Upper House seat to be filled in the recent NSW election is a battle between two small parties – No Land Tax and the Animal Justice Party.

“It’s bizarre to see Senator Leyonhjelm threaten a ‘rebellion’ if this reform was introduced. Why is he so intent in ensuring political parties control preferences instead of voters?

“Evidence was presented to the JSCEM suggesting Senator Leyonhjelm was running three ‘front parties’ in order to harvest preferences.

“In fact Senator Leyonhjelm himself has stated that he would ideally create 20 front parties in order to harvest preferences.

“It’s no wonder Senator Leyonhjelm wants to protect the current system which allows political operators like himself to control the preferences of thousands of voters via the creation of front parties.

“Our democracy should not be controlled by backroom preference operators. It’s time to reform Senate voting,” Senator Rhiannon said.

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