According to a report in this morning’s Guardian, the Coalition, the Greens and Nick Xenophon appear close to an agreement on Senate voting reform. There’s also an accompanying media release from Lee Rhiannon.
The proposed plan, put to the government by the Greens, would abolish group voting tickets (the mechanism whereby preferences flow according to pre-lodged party preference decisions when voters vote ‘1’ above the line for a party), and would allow voters to number their own preferences for parties above the line or for candidates below the line.
This proposal is very similar to that proposed unanimously by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), with a few exceptions:
- Voters would be expected to number at least six boxes above the line or twelve boxes below the line. As I understand it, there would be a savings provision so votes that don’t number enough boxes would still count.
- The Greens don’t propose any changes to party registration rules, whereas JSCEM had proposed raising the threshold for party registration from 500 members to 1500 members.
While the article is written as if agreement has been reached, it’s unclear whether the Coalition has agreed to the Greens’ demand that party registration be taken out of the package. It’s also unclear where Labor stands on the proposal – while some senior Labor senators are opposed, there are others in the party who support Senate reform.
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