Opportunities for electoral reform are very rare. Major changes have occurred only twice in the last sixty-five years – in 1948 and 1984 – and the Parliament got it wrong both times.
It has been obvious for some time that Senate elections, despite the vote being counted by proportional representation, are no longer giving a proportional result.
It has also been obvious that the result does not reflect the considered views of the Australian people.
It is not the voting system that is at fault. It is the accretions superimposed on the system that have distorted the results. The worst of these accretions is above-the-line voting and its associated group voting tickets, but there is also the unnecessary and undemocratic requirement to number a large number of squares in order to register a formal vote.
Australia is fortunate in that one of its jurisdictions, the Australian Capital Territory, has an electoral model that is simplicity itself and which works extremely well. Let’s look at it, learn from it and implement it for the Senate.
To those in the proportional representation movement who think that we need to limit our demands for achievable change – are you prepared to wait another sixty-five years before genuine reform takes place?