Senate voting reform offers voters more choice

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It's the final Senate week before the Budget is due in May and the focus is on Senate voting reform.

To say that things are a little fractious would be an understatement. Labor and the Independents are incensed about the reforms and a few Libs (like me) wonder about the wisdom of any policy that requires and receives the support of the Greens to get through!

Despite this, I support the underlying principle behind the reforms proposed.  Essentially, it boils down to providing voters with more choice.

As it stands now, a voter casting a Senate ballot above the line has their primary vote allocated according to a group voting ticket determined by the party and back room operators.

We've seen some 'preference whispering' previously give rise to some bizarre outcomes. Some of the micro parties have the same office bearers and effectively do preference deals with themselves. Other times, even the bitterest of political foes are forced to do deals in order to comply with the voting requirements.

Such a circumstance saw Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young elected thanks to the preferences of (former??) mining baron Clive Palmer!

The system also forces those who choose to vote below the line to decide between some truly awful options. How does a conservative choose between the Communist Party, the Greens or Labor for last place?

Which brings me back to the reforms.

The proposal allows every voter to allocate preferences above or below the line in accordance with their own determination; the caveat being that voting below the line will require them to choose a minimum of 12 candidates, rather than number every candidate as previously.

That means a below the line voter could support the Liberals, the Nationals and perhaps Family First. There would be no need for them to extend their vote any further than the parties whose values they identify with.

Similarly, above the line voters could decide they only want to vote for the Liberal Party with no preferences being distributed to other political candidates.

In essence, this expands the options available to voters to allocate preferential votes only as far as they want to.

I have no doubt this change will have an impact on the composition of the Senate. Thus far, no one has been able to definitively say what that impact will be or if it will advantage one party over another.

However, the principle of freedom of choice for every voter to determine the direction and exhaustion of their own vote is a principle I support.

I only wish they would extend the same principle to electing members of the House of Representatives too.

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  • commented 2016-04-13 17:50:55 +0930
    There is a massive amount of distrust with our political parties and the government as a whole. Also the Media seem to be able to change the thought process of our government and enact change to suit their hype. This is a huge loss of independent representation of the voice of the people of Australia. Scaredy cat politicians are not acceptable in any leadership role. Voting rigging is a major worry today as we see in USA the hype over rigging of votes and voting machines.
    Certainly the people of Australia DO NOT LIKE THE PRIME MINISTERSHIP CHANGING HANDS WITHOUT OUR RIGHT OF SAY. All this proves is that the people of Australia NEED to vote wisely and not just because its tradition but because they want STABLE HONEST RELIABLE GOVERNMENT. Any changes need to be in the best interestes of the PEOPLE not for a political agenda….and that includes any other political ideologies thinking they can take over!!!!!!!!
  • commented 2016-03-19 17:23:56 +1030
    I don’t really care about the senate and how many idiots like sea patrol are voted in. It is just the way it is. Maybe Bernardi could, when in session, ask, repeatedly, how many votes sea patrol gained at the last elections, and keep on and on about it, pissing her off, but no, he would be too worried about the backlash from the handbag harlots out there for picking on a poor, defence-less, brain-dead, little girlie, who cares nothing for the deaths of illegal refugees coming to our shores.
    Basically, because I do not live in Australia any more, making Thailand my home, I pretty much do not care about anything that goes on in Australia, because it affects me none and let’s face it, you idiots voted for the idiots in charge, so you have reaped what you have sown. And yes, so did I, which makes me an idiot too.
    No, the only thing I give a rat’s arse about is children, and how they are treated, and in Australia they are treated horrifically. And I am not talking about that Safe Schools bullshit, where boys were to be taught how to tuck their dicks behind their arse cheeks so they could be gender neutral, and little girls shown how to bind their little titties so they could also be gender neutral, and indoctrinated into homosexual beliefs and transphobe bullshit. Children are not sexual beings, at least not until they are 12, at a minimum. But what would I know, I am jut a doddering old fool. Just leave the kids be, let the parents show them the way, it is not up to so syph sore leftygreen slime teachers or education departments to teach kids those things. They are there to teach them, make them learn, help them graduate with an education that will help them in later life, not to push down their throats that it more than acceptable to have some man put his dick up your arse.
    I have written Bernardi several times on this, of course no response, and of course no action taken when he is at work. I am talking about kids being raped on those disgusting blackfella communities, and little girls being genitally mutilated at the behest of their scumbag, retarded, subhuman parents.
    Royal Commissions a-plenty into the white institutions, the mick church, and others, Scouts, schools, but nothing into child rape in those two disgusting worlds, the blackfellas and muzzies. Absolutely nothing.
    And just last week, a report finally came out about the rapes and abuses of black kids on some reservation in Qld, child prostitution, black kids raping younger kids, and this report was kept hidden for 3 years. 3 fucking years. Child rape is endemic in blackfella communities, yet the authorities are taking no action. Very few reports of child rape go through from medical staff, the few that might be reported are not acted upon, politicians like Bernardi put their heads up their arses, not wanting to be called racist, journos keep silent, every fucking bastard keeps quiet. Blackfella arseholes like that pearson scumbag and those dodson slime and that odonoghue bitch, all they want is more fucking money so those neanderthals can be recognised in the Constitution, as for the kids being raped, they don’t give a fuck.
    And in Melbourne, there is a very respected hospital where infibulations are being carried out. These abominations are illegal in Australia, yet a hospital has doctors actually performing them. And again, the police are not notified, or if they are they take no action, and politicians and journos are silent.
    So until Bernardi does what he has to do, put in a motion or whatever to have a Royal Commission into child rape in those disgusting blackfella and raghead worlds, he can go get fucked. He is no better and no worse than the likes of sea patrol or that pong bull dyke, both repulsive creatures.
    Typical politician Bernardi. You should be ashamed.
    And if I get banned for my horrific language, language I might possible have thought about issuing one of those faggoty trigger warnings, oh, whatever shall I fucking do?
  • commented 2016-03-19 05:45:05 +1030
    Thank you for being the Christian voice of truth and reason in a Godless world of dark shadows and compromised people. The senate voting reform is fine with me for the reasons you explain however I simply don’t trust the major parties anymore. The Greens have been the voice for the environment but these days that noble ideal has fallen away and it’s all about societies oddities. Turnbull will empower these people by capitulating to them and in that the utter stupidity of marriage equality and all the other pseudo equalities will see an easier passage. These things tear away at society because they make no sense and fracture our nation through deep division. Keep up the good work Cory.
  • commented 2016-03-19 01:23:38 +1030
    I hope your wife and staff are ok after the disgusting example of tolerance by the left. Is it true after trashing your office they were heading to your child’s school? I shudder at that thought.
  • commented 2016-03-18 21:32:27 +1030
    Hello Senator Cory
    Thank you so much for the many hours you give, sacrifices you make and persecution you endure to kindly bring out the facts that sadly are so often avoided in commentary that we so often hear. There will be a reaping of what each of us sow. I don’t have a grasp on what the voting changes would do and so find it difficult to know where one should stand on the matter. There is safety in the multitude of counsellors, if they be wise, and so I would suggest hearing an opposing view from other such as Bod Day may be helpful if you haven’t already. Thank you again for your most valuable contribution.
  • commented 2016-03-18 19:51:21 +1030
    I have been waiting eagerly for comments on my post 2 days ago. I am a member of a prominent Minor Party which received 72000 votes in the 2013 Senate Election. I think that the Minor parties will swap preferences with one another (and not preference LNP) to enable one of them to win the last Senate seat at the expense of the LNP. Does anyone agree with me that the changes to Senate voting may backfire on the LNP?
  • commented 2016-03-18 18:58:25 +1030
    Hi!, So sorry to see the way your office was trashed by thugs calling themselves ‘tolerant’. Strange how those who scream loudest about the conservatives being intolerant are the least tolerant themselves. The enjoyment of vandalizing the office was obvious on their faces and reminded me a bit of the SS in Germany as they trashed the homes of Jews, or the Stazi in Russia keeping the population in order. This is something I never thought to see in this Country – how very sad. By the way, they didn’t have enough brains to cover their faces, so are easily identifiable, and need to pay for the damage they have caused, and how dare these small minded idiots frighten and bully your staff! Joan.
  • commented 2016-03-18 18:54:22 +1030
    What a disgrace that your office was targeted today because you have been standing up for your principles and for exercising your right to freedom of speech, by such an intolerant group supporting the so called Safe School program. Thank you for being prepared to speak and stand up for traditional values that have been at the heart of our society and are now being undermined by those seeking to destroy that same society and who are themselves such bullies. Your work is appreciated by so many Australians.
  • commented 2016-03-18 18:04:45 +1030
    On the “National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence” the tolerance brigade gave us a demonstration of how it works. You resist bullying and violence better by resorting to bullying and violence! It seems you stamp out bullying with more bullying. Stand against violence by resorting to violence. Makes perfect sense to me.

    Sorry to hear you were the victim of this warped thinking. Keep up the good work.
  • followed this page 2016-03-18 16:23:16 +1030
  • commented 2016-03-18 16:07:04 +1030
    Cory Sorry to hear about the trashing of your Adelaide Office. What cowards! Thank you to you and George Christensen for leading the charge. The change has been made and that is only because of you two!!! Well done.
  • commented 2016-03-18 14:12:22 +1030
    To Honorable Cory Bernardi
    Hi Cory,
    I’m for Senate voting reform as long as it gets rid of all the back room deals with preferences. I have voted below the line in the past even though it has been a pain to do so.
    I’ve had that dilemma at election time about who to put last on the ballot form and it is always a clear cut ‘greens with labor second last’ I wish I could do them both equally last! Surely that is possible????
    All I want is a transparent and honest vote. Also I like for my vote to go to the parties I feel are the best. Cheers, Bill
  • commented 2016-03-18 14:09:15 +1030
    Essentially, with this “reform” if you vote for a microparty, your vote no longer counts. more power for the Liberal, Labor, and Green parties.

    Uncertain how this is a good thing, removing the ability for preferences to work. People can still vote above, and below the line, you’re just making an invisible option “if you vote like this, your vote doesn’t count”

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/15/everything-you-dont-understand-about-senate-voting-reform-and-are-afraid-to-admit

    Jane Foreman below, is 100% correct.

    Cory stating above “Essentially, it boils down to providing voters with more choice.” is 100% false.

    Less choice.
  • commented 2016-03-17 22:28:52 +1030
    I hope the new reforms do the job, maybe however Sera Hansen Young is another matter I know that I was not the only person to see her with a large ship full of boat people and herd her bragging she had spent a million dollars in helping these pore people she had paid for , I wrote to Mr Brandis about this 2 months ago ,still no reply john
  • commented 2016-03-17 22:22:43 +1030
    That Turnbull fellow is doing a great job destroying the Liberal Party. I am a member of the LNP, maintaining my membership “through gritted teeth” but an alliance with the Greens will be too much to bear. Imagine Sarah Hanson-Young as Immigration Minister. I pray often for the removal of Lord Wentworth. Meanwhile, no volunteering for electioneering, no donations, no fund-raising events for me. I like my local candidate, but even he will have to look for my vote below every minor party, just above Labor.
    Could we have our party back?
  • commented 2016-03-17 21:18:24 +1030
    Great work again Corey keep up the voice of concerned Australians. As a Liberal I’m terribly concerned & distressed at the direction of our once great Party & I fear that this direction will be costly not only to the LNP but more importantly our Country, Australia. I see you as a voice of reason for those of us with the same concerns as yourself. My Wife Monica & I fully support you & your current stance on a number of important issues such as Immigration, Border Security, Halal Certification & Education to name just a few.
    Keep up the good fight.

    Dave & Monica Smith.
  • commented 2016-03-17 17:25:48 +1030
    Peter, read Jeffrey’s post. It is revealing and he’s completely right.
    If you vote for Greens you give it to Labor, then you will say “Adieu” to Australia. At least with Turnbull, we have a chance.
    Cheers
  • commented 2016-03-17 17:21:32 +1030
    I don’t agree with some comments below:
    The Senate should represent all the State Governments equally. Senators should be elected by the State Parliaments and they should receive their credentials for 6 years based strictly on merit. Senators should be the genuine “ambassadors” of the State Government before the Federal Parliament.
    If we are going to elect Senators directly as John suggests, or allocate Senators according to population as Robert suggests, then why do we need a Senate? Better to abolish it and have just the Lower House instead, as in Queensland (I know I know, Queensland is now a farce, but it won’t last forever). For that purpose we don’t need 2 chambers elected in the same way proportional to the population. A Lower House would make it.
    Cheers
  • commented 2016-03-17 17:10:43 +1030
    Dear Cory,
    I agree about the changes in voting for senate, but what I am waiting for is all these ballot forms published or distributed some time before the poll, so we Voters can make a careful decision. Currently we don’t have any mean to check these ballot forms other than at polling time.
    Cheers.
  • commented 2016-03-17 17:09:40 +1030
    My only comment is that the senate should always reflect the views of the majority of voters, and not continually block legislation that does not suit their own minority objectives. The will of the people should always come first. John Higgins
  • commented 2016-03-17 16:18:33 +1030
    Cory it will be good not to have to give preferences. I do not like the way the Prime Minister is operating with doing a deal with the Greens. I can see that if the LNP win the next election, Mr Turnbull will legislate for an Emissions Trading Scheme, more money from the renewable energy subsidy for companies that build wind farms and solar panels. He will wreck the LNP.
  • commented 2016-03-17 15:36:27 +1030
    I do not agree with the changes to the Senate that will likely give us a permanent Labor/Greens majority, we will never be able to get rid of them. Maybe some of you conservatives should cross the floor. I cannot understand any LNP Government doing a deal with the Greens. Surely the voting for the Senate could maybe eliminate any single person/ party that does not get at least 10,000 votes.
  • commented 2016-03-17 13:33:40 +1030
    Cory, fundamentally I concur with you concerns however the senate is hardly working as it is. However “THE” biggest issue is that voting methodology of the Senate is a far bigger issue than “preferences”. Essentially the Constitution provides states like Tasmania who have about 510,000 people (the same size as the Gold Coast by the way) have the full quota of Senators whereas the likes of Sydney with 5+ million have the same representation. One could argue that is grossly unfair and not democratic. I don’t reside in Sydney or NSW for that matter however why should radical left wing zealots with 1200 or so votes obtain a seat dictating what happens to the majority. Let’s face it, Tassy hasn’t a great track record! The Constitution needs to be addressed making the Senate representative of the country and not an arbitrary number of seats for a state. Hence, Senate seats are allocated to the size of the populous they represent. Now that is democracy and equal representation for all. The current “Equal Representation” method essentially means that a voter in NSW has less weight in the outcome than any other state. I appreciate the Constitution clearly sets out the make up but its important to remember that the Constitution was enacted when states were far far smaller and the population differences between them no where near the discrepancy in numerical terms that exists today. Hence the need for genuine Constitutional reform. I do acknowledge the smaller states will be uneasy with such a change non the least SA and WA.

    Should the representative approach above be too hard to swallow…. which some would argue is a step too far, the other method would be to reduce back the number of seats in the Senate. Reducing it back to the minimum (6) would fix the problem and would also address the Greens as well. Why that wasn’t done when the Lib’s last had both houses (2004) is beyond me and smacks of self interest. Remember that it was our friend Mr Hawke in 1984 who expanded the Senate so with the intent that Lib’s would find it really hard to hold power in that house any longer. The creation of the larger Senate that we have today with the full intent to load it full of lunies is the issue and the problems caused with unrepresentative persons finding seats from smaller states.
  • commented 2016-03-17 12:28:18 +1030
    Cory, Changing any Senate rules requires serious debating and should include its role and its place in our current democracy. Unfortunately with the current leaders of all parties being in self survival mode, I am loathed to trust 90% of our politicians to put our country and the wishes of the majority of the population ahead of their own interests.
    Thank you for taking the time to provide us with information allowing us to become more aware.
  • commented 2016-03-17 11:40:39 +1030
    Yes agree with these comments re aligning at any time with the Socialist Greens, but surely the intent behind this is to democratise the Senate Voting Rules. So if we have to vomit whilst bedding the Greens to do so, I laud Turnbull in this and ponder why I read such negative commentary about him here. He is the best we have for the Libs, not all is wonderful with him, but Abbott did not bring with him much of the voting populace, lacked the ability to lead us, Turnbull gives us a chance at least. What did Churchill say something like, if Hitler invaded Hell, he would at least give a favorable reference to the devil! Meaning compromise is necessary, so give Turnbull a chance for us to win the election, or do you want The Australian Union Party with Mr CMFEU Shorten as PM?
  • commented 2016-03-17 07:35:10 +1030
    I am a LNP voter but no more while ever Turnbull is there. He is selling out the party I support to the Greens. Does this moron Turnbull get anything? It seems not.
  • commented 2016-03-17 03:03:50 +1030
    Cory, I agree with almost every position you take and laud your bravery in standing up to the PC bullies (especially over the Orwellian-named Safe Schools programme). On the issue of Senate voting reform I must say – be careful what you wish for! All you will achieve is the replacement of the hard-to-deal with cross-bench Senators with far-left nutcase Greens which will be a total disaster for Australia. When Labor win government they will have a majority in the upper house (with the greens) to pass all kinds of unsavoury legislation. They will not complain that it is somehow unfair that they have control of both houses – as they did when John Howard had such control some years ago. Labor and the greens could do more damage in one term of government than could be undone in a generation. Don’t do it Cory!
  • commented 2016-03-17 01:08:02 +1030
    It used to be the case here in WA that you could vote 1,2,3 9,9,9,9,. This ensured that your preferences could not pass down any further than your third choice. Legislation was introduced which made such a vote invalid!!! I have always believed this to be a great mistake.
  • commented 2016-03-16 23:21:25 +1030
    Okay. Maybe I am not the brightest, but I am struggling to understand what the proposed Turnbull senate change is going to mean for someone who wants right wing government, but still wants to support a right wing minor party.
    Not trusting Turnbull further than he can be thrown, I smell a rat by hopping into bed with the greens.
  • commented 2016-03-16 23:09:22 +1030
    If the genuine position is that voters preferences align with their intention, then that is strengthening voting. Hard to escape the current position where preferences were traded to elect people that were not what voters desired.
    The weakness was always there but it took some clever operators to exploit it. Also, it means for too long, Liberal and Labor took voters for granted. That is inexcusable.

    So, if it means that Senators actually have to speak to voters to be elected, then I am not in favor. Instead of sitting back on party preferences, they have to connect to the public. I could not name 1 Senator from Queensland.

    One of the criticisms of parliament is that there are too many paert people. When focus groups and opinion polls are more important than voters declared decision, then the parliament has been too clever by half. So electing some of these cross bench Senators has been a good outcome.

    So then, the problem is not the voting – even though modernising it in the age of computers is a good thing. The problem is that the job is too big for some of these Senators. That is the point. They know not what they do.

    How do you test them is the question? Finding people capable of the job is more important than allocating the voters preferences. How do we know any of the major party Senators are worth a cracker? We never hear from them nor do they make much effort. It is no excuse to say that they are available. They are on the tax dollars, they have to put themselves forward.

    One good example is, of course, Senator Bernardi and was Senator Joyce. Where are the rest of the invisible men and women?