Thursday, 17 March 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee
I have, at times, wondered whether we did the right thing! But let me continue. I was approached by two 'preference whisperers' to arrange this deal. They were, namely, former senator Ron Boswell and Mr Ben Morton—the State Director, I think he was, of the Liberal Party in Western Australia. I have no idea whether they called me from a front room or a back room, but the fact is that they called me, we discussed various aspects—the details of which are not all that important—and, in the end, the Liberal Democratic Party gave its preferences to the Liberal Party prior to the Labor Party in that Western Australian election.
The significant thing about it, of course, is that that group voting ticket that led to the Liberal Democratic Party's preferences going to the Liberal Party before the Labor Party, and the Greens, obviously, as well, was that those votes—our votes, my party's votes—did not go to the Liberal Party at No. 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6. They were at about No. 25 or 26 or 27 or 28 or thereabouts. That is very, very significant, because under this voting system—this brand new, brave voting system—they will only be asked to vote for six above the line and, as far as I can tell, they are likely to be told: 'Just vote 1 anyway. That's good enough.' The point about it is that in another election they will not vote for minor parties, which is what they did. They will not vote for those minor parties before they put the Liberal Party; they will just vote for those minor parties because our voters do not much like the big parties. They just like the little ones.
In another election under this new voting system, because their votes do not go any further than what they are going to put on the ballot paper, they will cease at No. 6—that is, if they even get to No. 6. So the question is: does that reflect their will? I think I know a fair bit about Liberal Democratic Party voters, and I am pretty confident in saying that they trust us to do the right thing with their vote. And if I had said to them, 'If you can't get any of those minor parties, if we can't get elected and none of those minor parties that you would put second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth gets elected, who would you prefer?' then they would have had a preference. They would have said, very likely: 'The Liberal Party ahead of the Labor Party or the Greens.' I absolutely guarantee it would have been before the Greens.
The second example that I want to talk about is the election of Senator Sinodinos in New South Wales. Senator Sinodinos was elected at No. 6 on the New South Wales ticket at the 2013 election. It was not our preferences that got him elected; our preferences were not distributed, since I was elected. Senator Sinodinos was elected on the preferences of the Christian Democratic Party, One Nation, the Shooters and Fishers Party, the Fishing and Lifestyle Party and a number of others. If he had not received those preferences from those parties—and there were others; I cannot remember them all at the moment—then guess who would have won. It would have been Cate Faehrmann from the Greens.