The new Senate voting legislation would mean that many people’s votes would be exhausted
FamilyVoice national director Dr David Phillips has condemned the federal government’s Commonwealth Electoral Funding Bill 2016.
“There are two fundamental requirements of a voting system,” he said. “The first is that the voter, not a party, should decide his or her own party preferences.
“The second is that every vote should have equal value. The new bill being rushed through the federal parliament does not satisfy both principles.
“It would allow optional preferential voting – meaning that many people would mark only one box above the line on the ballot paper. They would not indicate any preferences, and if they do not vote for a major party, their vote may end up nowhere – exhausted. The result would be that the Senate may no longer fairly reflect community views.”
Dr Phillips said the current system is also unsatisfactory, because when people vote ‘1’ for a party above the line, the party decides their preferences, not the voter. Very few people choose the onerous task of numbering all candidates in order of preference below the line.
“A fairer system would require people to list their own preferences for all parties above the line,” Dr Phillips said. “Micro parties would soon disappear, because they would no longer be able to ‘game the system’ as at present.
“I would expect the number of parties contesting Senate elections would then decrease markedly, so that preferencing a reasonable number (eg 1-8) would be a fairly simple operation, similar to what is now required when voting for candidates for the House of Representatives,” he said.
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