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Speech: Senate Voting Reform

Speeches in Parliament
Lee Rhiannon 1 Mar 2016

Lee stands to lay bare the desperation of Labor's arguments against Senate voting reform.


Senator RHIANNON: Today's debate is another attempt where Labor are trying to use process. They have run out of political arguments to defend

Opposition senators interjecting-

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Reynolds): Those on my left!

Senator RHIANNON: I acknowledge all the interjections. Please put more of them on the Hansard. It illustrates the desperation. They are trying to defend the indefensible because they are bankrupt. What they are trying to defend are the backroom deals. How far they have gone to try and discredit a very useful inquiry that we had today. One of the things they are saying is that there was not enough time. Senator Conroy, who asked 99 per cent of the questions for Labor-

Senator Dastyari interjecting-

Senator RHIANNON: I am happy to take the interjections, but Senator Conroy handed his time over to senators from other parties because he ran out of questions. So, for all the complaints, that is what went on. Useful evidence was given by the Australian Electoral Commission, by experts like Antony Green and Professor Williams, and by political parties. The solid work to help inform us was done. There were some very useful comments about below-the-line voting and a real commitment by people to work through how we ensure that it is voters who decide their preferences. There was much discussion about how ordinary people should play a part in parliament and in the electoral process. I believe that the Senate voting reform proposals before us, when we get to the bill, provide that opportunity. Above-the-line voting will require at least six boxes to be ticked. People will be ticking more than just major parties when they come to allocate their preferences, and therefore we can keep that very important aspect of emerging parties and smaller parties being elected to this parliament.

There was incredible misinformation from some of the earlier speakers in this debate to misrepresent this inquiry, which went to considerable lengths. One hundred and seven submissions were received, Senator Polley and Senator Dastyari, which set out some very real, useful information on how-

Senator Dastyari interjecting-

Senator RHIANNON: Senator Dastyari is bankrupt to the point where he says, 'You can't even say it's real.' It was a very useful inquiry; 107 submissions being made to an inquiry is impressive, with by far the majority of those submissions setting out support for Senate voting reform.

Let us remind Labor colleagues that this is building on the work that they participated in- because these days we are not sure which Labor we are dealing with in this debate. Are we dealing with the Labor of Senator Conroy, who just about froths at the mouth when he talks about this issue? Or are we dealing with the Labor of Jennie George and Gary Gray, who continue to have a balanced, responsible and democratic approach to this issue of Senate voting reform? Labor is split, and that was reflected today when Senator Conroy himself had to do the heavy lifting, getting very little support from any of his colleagues; now the message they have brought in here has been deceptive to their own colleagues.

Senator Conroy interjecting-

Senator RHIANNON: Senator Conroy, it is good you have joined us! I have just informed the Senate, Senator Conroy, of how you ran out of questions today at the committee inquiry and you had to give over your time to the other senators. It really does speak volumes. It really speaks volumes when Senator Conroy himself runs out of questions on such an important issue as Senate voting reform. He is the warrior for the Labor Party on this issue and he loses the argument.

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