Thursday, 17 March 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; Consideration of Senate Message
That the amendments be agreed to.
This is a great day for democracy. For too long the Senate voting system has been disturbed by backroom deals, by preference whisperers and by the manipulation of microparties, such that we have seen the will of the people frustrated. There is nothing more important than that the men and women who sit in this chamber and in the Senate reflect, as far as possible, the wish of the Australian people. That has not been the case with the Senate. We have known this for many years. The practice of group voting tickets, of backroom deals, of elaborate creation of microparties has resulted in people being elected to the Senate with a tiny fraction of the primary vote. It has undermined the democratic reputation and credibility of the Senate, which is half of this great parliament.
The changes that are contained in this bill and reflected in these amendments represent what was not so long ago the bipartisan position—the position of every party in this parliament. It was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. Labor, Liberal, the Greens, all agreed that it should be Australian voters who decide where their preferences go. It should be Australian voters that choose who should be elected to the Senate, not backroom deals. There was no stronger advocate for this than the member for Brand, Gary Gray.
Then, only weeks ago, for base political reasons, the Labor Party did a complete backflip. They abandoned their position. They left the member for Brand, Gary Gray, as a solitary beacon of integrity in a sea of Labor opportunism.
These amendments are for democracy. I want to thank the senators who supported them. I want to thank the senators who stuck to their principles.
Mr Danby interjecting—