Faced with an Upper House result in our election on Saturday which is clearly ludicrous, I append below a letter I just sent to The Age and the The Australian. I’ll let you know if either of them print it.
If you are Australian, and you agree me, then I suggest you make the letter your own, and send it to Tony Abbott, or someone.
The solution to the current farce in the Senate – with preference deals delivering seats to people who initially achieve miniscule popular votes – is not to ban minor parties, nor even yet their convoluted preference deals.
It is simply to remove the requirement for people to vote “exhaustively”, (to number all the boxes), and to make the change not just in the Senate but in both houses of Parliament.
It is obviously ridiculous and impractical, if an elector does not understand or does not wish to follow a pre-set preference flow, and therefore intends to vote “below the line”, to insist that they express a preference between 97 Senate candidates, as we had to in Victoria.
And it makes a mockery of democratic will for candidates that clearly have no popular support whatsoever to be gifted a major role in determining what legislation successfully wends its way through Parliament.
Just let us number as many boxes as we like, then stop.
And it is just as ridiculous, in the lower house, to force us all to ultimately transfer our vote to one of the major party candidates if we don’t want to. We should be entitled to transfer a preference just as far as we, the electors, decide, not to be forced to end up donating our vote to a party with which we fundamentally disagree, merely because they are the lesser of two evils. That is fundamentally un-democratic.
And if, as a result of such a change, a lower house candidate fails to achieve 50% +1 in a seat, then the solution is simple – have a re-run after a short period of reflection for local electors to consider their options.
The necessary change to the electoral legislation would take five minutes to write. And it will be much more sensible, and less disruptive to Australian traditions, than many of the other ideas you will hear mooted, such as making it prohibitively difficult or expensive to establish a political party, or getting rid of mandatory attendance at polling stations. (Note, not “mandatory voting”, which we do not have in Australia.)
I look forward to our zealously reformist Prime Minister-elect acting on my suggestions forthwith.
PS Dear Reader, if you do anything as a result of reading this, let me know.
- Greens ‘intact’ amid conservative tide (news.theage.com.au)
- Likely senator ‘in kangaroo-poo fight’ (theage.com.au)
- Tony Abbott’s key policies face rough ride in the Senate (theguardian.com)
- With less than 1% of first preference vote, two candidate still won seats in Australian senate! (sluggerotoole.com)