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The Forum > Article Comments > Electoral reform, now? > Comments

Electoral reform, now? : Comments

By Philip Lillingston, published 14/10/2013

Talk of reforming the senate voting system neglects the very many voting inequities that occur at other levels of government.

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'but when someone doesnít know who he voted for because he didnít bother to look it up'. Are you referring to the Liberal Democrats, in which case I'd have to agree, or are you suggesting that it is possible to understand the implications of voting above the line? I looked up the party cards on line, and was really none the wiser, because the working of the preference system is so obscure. Were the preference deals of the major parties responsible for the election of the micro candidates, or was it just down to the deals brokered by the so-called preference whisperer? I think we need to be able to understand how we arrived at the outcome of any election, and Senators need to represent a reasonable proportion of the electorate. Five percent primary support is too high a requirement and would unfairly benefit the major parties - but surely one or two percent is not too much to ask.
Posted by Candide, Monday, 14 October 2013 6:32:45 AM
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While I would prefer to change the Senate voting system, this article is a welcome reminder of how far our system departs from democratic principle. We strive all the time for incremental improvements in business, sport etc, but fail to take the same approach to our most important institutions.

It is obvious that a party which wins more lower house votes should have more lower house seats. When this does not occur, the principle of one vote one value is negated.

If we do not align our electoral systems more closely with democratic principle, people will ultimately seek the changes they want outside that system.
Posted by Philip Howell, Monday, 14 October 2013 7:30:35 AM
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If we are going to have electoral reform, why don't we have REAL reform.

This could include:

1. An additional candidate at every election called "Vacant". Voters could vote for or give preferences to "Vacant" in the same way as any other candidate. If "Vacant were to win, the seat would not be filled.

2. Registered Voters. Electors rusted on to any party could, if they wished, register to vote for that party, and then they would not need to turn up at a booth. Such electors could change their status at any time up to the close of the poll. The list of registered voters would be public, and it would be an offence to bother registered voters with election material.

3. Compulsory voting, which is a joke, should be abandoned, and the only compulsory thing would be to turn up at the booth. When their name has been ticked off, they should then be asked if they wish to vote.

4. Public funding of political parties, as well as payment of more than a token amount to politicians, should be terminated. The ability of wealthy individuals to influence elections could be prevented by providing that the only money politicians could spend on getting elected would be that raised by putting their daughters on the streets.
Posted by plerdsus, Monday, 14 October 2013 9:44:34 AM
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Well, the now extremely dysfunctional system, as inherited, once worked quite well for the major parties. When there were just three parties contesting the election, and conservative parties used the system to greater advantage. When two so called conservative parties could exchange preferences and win the seat, regardless of a quite dismal primary vote!
The greens regularly out-poll the nationals, yet to date, have only won one single lower house seat! Is that a Gerrymander or what?
This unusual result, even though the nationals have for years, virtually rolled over and begged for a tummy rub as the co-ops, their dependent country towns and their own power base in the bush, was progressively dismantled. [When I was a boy, you could still earn a no frills living wage, running a dairy farm!] There are none so blind-
And yes, parties ought to win a minimum of one or two percent of the vote, to be in the running to win a senate quota!
Quite massive dissatisfaction with the performance and lurch further and further to the right, direction of the major parties, can only ever spawn more parties and more preference exchanges, with parties like the double dealing disingenuous greens preferencing on both sides of the political divide, simply to maximize power! Little wonder they're not liked in the bush!
We do need electoral reform and a vastly better system than the can of worms we've inherited. Which can only continue to effectively usurp the will of the people; and or, threaten to paralyze future parliaments; or, turn up more and more one term administrations!?
The way to ensure this country never ever becomes ungovernable, is to chuck out the current quite massively manipulated and therefore undemocratic system, in favour of proportional representation for all houses along with optional preferencing!
Meaning we will be able to rid ourselves of the above the line voting, that effectively takes our preferences away from us, due to the numbers competing and increasing complexity/complex opaque arrangements!
Rhrosty.
Posted by Rhrosty, Monday, 14 October 2013 10:28:10 AM
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Ever heard of Tasmania Rhrosty?

If not have a little look at Italy or France to see what happens when you let all the ratbags out of the asylums, & into parliament.

I reckon 5% should be the minimum personal vote to go into the secondary distribution rounds. It would be interesting to see how many of the major parties second & third candidates got into the distribution. Votes should only be redistributed 4 times, then expire.

Voting above the line would become impossible, & would eliminate a heap of union, & other deadheads. Hell with a bit of luck, some states may only achieve 3 or 4 candidates eligible for election. Talk about win win.

Meanwhile senate numbers should be reduced to 6 per state, in an attempt to reduce the procession of total idiots Tasmania has managed to trail through Canberra. This elections rabble is certainly no worse than the apple isle has saddled us with in the recent past.
Posted by Hasbeen, Monday, 14 October 2013 4:11:01 PM
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What if not enough candidates got over the 5% threshold? I suppose we could just leave those positions vacant for three years 'due to lack of voter support'! That would make them campaign hard. I like the idea of limiting the number of times a vote can be redistributed. I just hope that if TA is considering a double dissolution over the carbon tax, he puts through reform of the Senate electoral process beforehand.
Posted by Candide, Monday, 14 October 2013 4:46:47 PM
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