Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


South Australia State Election

7:19 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise tonight to make some comments about the South Australian election that was held last Saturday and to advise this house that we have the extraordinary situation where 53 per cent of South Australians voted for a Liberal government and, despite that fact, it appears highly unlikely that the Liberal Party will be able to form government. If you look at any other jurisdiction around Australia, in any of the other states—even Tasmania, which has a more complicated election system—or the federal situation, any party that got 53 per cent of the vote would reasonably expect to be not just in government but in government by a reasonably significant majority. You have to question whether there is something fundamentally flawed in the way the South Australian electoral system is working for that situation to have occurred.

As you would be well aware, Mr Acting Deputy President Bernardi, given that you come from South Australia, in three out of the last four elections the Liberal Party have succeeded in achieving more than 50 per cent of the two-party-preferred vote. On each of those three occasions we failed to achieve government. If this sort of thing happened once and then was rectified—because obviously you cannot help that changes occur, with people moving between electorates et cetera—you could suggest that maybe it was just an anomaly in the system that should have been fixed at the time. But for it to have happened so regularly over the last 16 years it seems to me that there is a fundamental flaw that has failed to be addressed. Given we are talking about 53 per cent of the voters, you would have to say that the South Australian people have spoken—and they have said that they do not want a continuation of the Labor government that they have had for the last 12 years.

I go back to the point of what we are going to do about this. We proudly stand here in Australia and say that one vote has one value. But if we have a situation where the majority of people support a particular party but that party continues to fail to achieve government then maybe we need to be looking at how we change our boundaries in South Australia. Maybe we need to look at the regular updating from the Electoral Commission South Australia and how they are going to address this problem this time. Exactly the same thing occurred in 2010, when the Liberal Party got 51.8 per cent of the vote and fell 18 seats to 26 seats.


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