Senate debates

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bills

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee

1:14 am

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

I am actually pretty confident that Senator Conroy wears that description as a badge of honour. I do not think he is embarrassed by this at all. I am sure that if you were to ask Senator Conroy what his role and approach is in the context of the Labor Party he would readily agree that he is a backroom operator. The whole purpose of this legislation is to take power away from the backroom operators and to give the power to the Australian people to determine what happens not just to their primary vote but also to their subsequent preferences when voting above the line. That is what this is about.

The Labor Party are fighting so hard because they believe, for some reason, that they can do better by manipulating preferences than by trying to persuade the Australian people. In the end, if the Labor Party want to be more successful they have to be better at convincing more Australians that they deserve their support. Do not take my word for it. That is what Mr Gray wrote in an opinion piece in The West Australian in early February 2016. That is the point. Senator Conroy does not want a system that empowers the Australian people because he is scared of the Australian people. He worries that the Labor Party are not going to do well enough by putting their faith into the hands of the Australian voters. That is what Senator Conroy is worried about. Rather, Senator Conroy runs a system where he can do little deals here and there, asking for pop-up parties to send preferences Labor's way so that they can get more seats in the Senate than they actually deserve as a result of the democratic vote that they have achieved at an election.

We are prepared to put our faith into the hands of the Australian people. The result of an election is entirely a matter for the Australian people. If this reform is passed, the result of an election will be a reflection of the will of the Australian people. That is what this is all about. We understand what Labor are doing here tonight. They are running a marathon filibuster. Some of the Labor senators are bragging to the media about how long they can run it.

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