Senate debates

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bills

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee

10:43 pm

Photo of Lee RhiannonLee Rhiannon (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Senator Conroy made a serious and inaccurate allegation about my role in the New South Wales election in 1999. There were no Greens feeder parties. There were no Greens feeder parties that I or any other Greens members were involved in. We were not involved in the establishment of such parties—feeder parties or front parties.

To come to the issue that is before us now, one of the very important aspects of this bill is about changing the below-the-line voting system. In the current system, which many people have complained about, if you want to choose your candidates and not get caught in party blocks then you had to fill in every box. Many people have raised that. This is very relevant because we continually hear these repetitive speeches from Labor trying to discredit the JSCEM inquiry. The JSCEM inquiry was real. We thank the people who put in submissions—

Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting—

I acknowledge the interjection, Senator Collins! This was a very useful inquiry and, seriously, this very point illustrates it. One of the recommendations was that the bill should be changed from what originally went through the House of Representatives to what we now have before us with this amendment—voters voting below the line would only have to number 12 boxes. They could number more boxes but they would have to number a minimum of 12 boxes. It is a really important amendment. Again, there was solid evidence given and there was certainly much public consideration of this matter. It underlines the usefulness of the work that was undertaken by JSCEM and its important role.

Let us get back to what this amendment is about. It is about something that is very important and really makes a big difference to the importance of the legislation that is before us.

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