Senate debates

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; Second Reading

9:10 pm

Photo of Robert SimmsRobert Simms (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I am being heckled and told these arguments are ridiculous. That actually has some semblance of fact. Certainly the same cannot be said for some of the absurd and ludicrous arguments that have been put here in this chamber over the last few weeks. The point I am making is that the Labor Party have been enabling the Liberals for a long time and no amount of slinging mud at the Australian Greens will change that reality.

Let us return to talking about the benefits of this reform, and I think there are some significant benefits here. I can see that the Labor Party do not like it because it smashes the business model of the faceless men that they rely on to hold their seats here in this place. The factional warlords of the Labor Party might be the losers of this reform but the Australian people will certainly be the winners. The Australian people will win from this reform because, for the first time, they will get to determine where their preferences go above the line and below the line. That is a really important proposition and I am very excited about that being made a reality.

This is something that has been talked about for some time. It has been debated since Bob Brown first put a bill to this place 10 years ago. But it has also been debated significantly during this term of parliament. We have finally reached the point where we can get this over the line. What we have seen, unfortunately, is the Labor Party, who up until recently supported this reform, bucking their previous position and choosing short-term political opportunism over doing the right thing.

We have also seen in the attacks of the Labor Party on this reform quite a contradictory scare campaign. We heard earlier this suggestion that this is about putting Greens bums on seats. I have also heard references in South Australian media that as a result of this reform, perhaps I will lose my seat in the Senate or perhaps Senator Hanson-Young will lose her seat. Apparently it is about bums on seats but it is also going to cost us seats. I want to make it very clear this has never been about self-interest for the Greens. That is not what this is about. I can hear again people in the Labor Party laughing and heckling because of course self-interest is their political modus operandi. But that is not the way that we work in the Greens. We have been championing this issue for some time, it is one of our key principles as a party and we are finally in the position to make our policy law. We need to seize that opportunity with both hands and I am excited that we are going to be doing that. It is not about self-interest; it is about doing the right thing by the Australian people, it is about doing the right thing by our democracy, and I think that is a great outcome. And so I look forward to this reform becoming law. I think it will be an exciting milestone in democratic reform in this country; let's make it happen.


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