Giving Australians control of their vote should be the key priority for all sides of politics engaging in the debate on whether reform to Senate voting is needed, said Australian Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon.
“The reason we need to reform Senate voting is because the current system does not allow voters to control their preferences – instead it gives that power over to political parties.
“Supporting Senate voting reform is essential to maintaining a democratic electoral system which empowers voters.
“We need to put a stop to backroom operators who create ‘front parties’ in order to harvest voter’s preferences without their knowledge and support and the only way we can do this is by reforming the Senate voting process.
“Academics, electoral experts such as the ABC’s Antony Green and the Greens have been arguing for years for the current system to be scrapped and control over preferences to be handed back to voters.
“As a state MP, I introduced a plan for Optional Preferential Above-The-Line Voting that was adopted by the NSW parliament in 1999 to clean up similar problems that we now face in the Senate.
“Such a system protects the democratic right of minor parties to stand for election, while ensuring that preferences only flow in the direction the voter chooses.
“In NSW, this system hasn’t locked out small parties. They build up their support in the community rather than relying on front parties and labyrinthine backroom preference deals.
“Reforming the Senate is about giving Australians back control of their vote, it’s an important reform for democracy and I hope that politicians of all stripes and colours will be able to show bi-partisan leadership on this.”