Senate debates

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bills

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

With due respect, yes, you are reading this wrong. As I have indicated to the chamber before—and as Senator Xenophon very accurately indicated to the chamber and as Mr Green indicated in his evidence to the committee—the ACT has an arrangement whereby, in the Legislative Assembly here, guidance is provided to voters to number at least seven boxes or whatever it might be in the relevant electorate. And the experience is that all but two per cent of voters follow that guidance and fill in the recommended number of boxes. So we do not actually believe that the circumstance that you are predicting will occur. That is why I have previously said during this debate that the assertions that Senator Wong, Senator Conroy and others from the Labor Party have made about the level of exhaustion and the level of informals is not an accurate prediction of what is likely to happen.

Senator Conroy interjecting—

Senator Conroy mentions New South Wales. Of course, in verballing Antony Green, what Senator Conroy fails to tell the Senate is that the instruction on the ballot paper in New South Wales is to just vote '1' and then, beyond that, do anything you want.

Senator Conroy interjecting—

For the benefit of Senator Conroy, who has been verballing Mr Green on several occasions now, I will read it into the Hansard again. Mr Green said: 'New South Wales ballot papers say just vote '1'. If you want to you may go on and do something else.' That is not what will be printed on the Senate ballot paper. The Senate ballot paper will say that, to vote above the line, you should number at least six boxes in the order of your choice with '1' as your first choice. So it is a completely different proposition. The position that we are putting forward in the context of the Senate ballot paper is much more aligned with the system that currently exists in the ACT Legislative Assembly. It has nothing whatsoever in common with the system that is currently in place in New South Wales. That is why the comparison that Senator Conroy has been seeking to make—and the comparison that Mr Green never made despite what Senator Conroy has asserted during the debate today—is very different.

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