Thursday, 17 March 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee
Let me refer to you to precisely what it will say on the ballot paper. On the Senate ballot paper, it will say:
You may vote in one of two ways for the Senate, either by numbering at least six of these boxes in the order of your choice, with 1 as your first choice …
That will be the advice to voters voting above the line—to number at least six boxes, 1 to 6. The experience in the ACT is that, where such advice is provided in the ballot paper, all but two per cent of voters end up following that advice. That is the lived experience.
As a result of the law that Labor introduced in 1984, however, people have voted just 1 above the line for more than 30 years. We did not want to have a massive increase in informal votes. We did not want votes discarded simply because people vote the way they always have. That is why we have included a savings provision which ensures that, if someone votes 1; 1 and 2; 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; or indeed fills in every single box above the line when casting their Senate vote, their vote will still be formal. I very much welcome Senator Bullock back to the chamber, one of four federal members of parliament from the great state of Western Australia who has decided to pull the pin. One of them, Mr Gray, told the chamber today that the Labor Party position on this legislation makes him sad. No wonder he is leaving; he is thoroughly disappointed at the way Bill Shorten approaches issues like this one—with complete disregard for the national interest.