Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Rotation of Senators
I would just like to draw the Senate's attention to the method of allocating Senate terms that has been applied in this motion. It is not the countback method that this Senate has previously indicated should be the appropriate method for electing senators. The Labor and Liberal parties have both previously supported the much fairer method advocated by the Australian Electoral Commission; yet, disappointingly, but not surprisingly, when it does come to the crunch, they have gone back to a method that really has been adopted out of narrow self-interest.
We know that the countback method is the fairer, more democratic method of the two. We know that the order of election, which is the method that is being used in allocating Senate terms in this case, does create serious anomalies in preferential voting like ours. That is precisely why moving to a countback process was the recommendation of the 1983 Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform. The Commonwealth Electoral Act was even amended to authorise the AEC to conduct a countback of the Senate vote.
Ultimately, this is a decision which is in our hands. It is a deliberate choice of this Senate to disregard the more democratic process that more closely reflects the will of voters. Senator Button and, indeed, Senator Faulkner, whom I had the pleasure of working with during my early years in this parliament and is somebody for whom I have tremendous respect, were both champions of the countback method. So it is disappointing to see Labor supporting this motion. They are not the only ones; we saw Senator Ronaldson move and successfully pass the motion on behalf of the coalition in 2010. It comes back to something that we have said on a number of occasions: there is nothing that brings the old parties—the Labor Party and the Liberal Party—closer together than ensuring they protect their cosy little duopoly. And here we are again; they are voting together to stop diverse voices in the parliament. It is the Coles and Woolies of politics, as I have said before.
The outcome of this motion has clearly been predetermined by both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party, but we will continue to advocate for the recount method, regardless of who it benefits, because it is the fairer method.