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Electoral system should be above politics

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THE HON GARY GRAY AO MP Special Minister of State Minister for the Public Service and Integrity

January 10, 2013


Electoral system should be above politics Australia’s electoral system should not be changed simply to protect partisan political interests, Special Minister of State Gary Gray said today.

He was commenting on media reports that the Liberal Party wanted to move to optional preferential voting nationally to damage Labor and the Greens at the ballot box.

“Our electoral system is older than most of our political parties. It is older than any of our serving politicians. Political parties, and politicians, come and go but our electoral system should be consistent,” Mr Gray said.

“It shouldn’t be changed lightly.”

Mr Gray said that on three occasions, under the chairmanship of Liberal politicians, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters had supported the current electoral system after reviews of the 1998, 2001, and 2004 elections.

“The latest proposal is characterised as desirable because it provides a partisan political advantage,” Mr Gray said. “That is wrong.

“There is a justifiable concern about the increased amount of informal voting and there is a need to address it.

“There is a recommendation from the bipartisan Joint Standing Committee of Electoral Matters and with Opposition support I would be more than happy to propose the vote-saving initiative of this committee.

‘This recommendation deems that if you vote ‘one’ for only one candidate at an election, then your vote will be fully cast according to the preferences of that candidate’s party. This is what happens in Senate elections.”

Mr Gray said the unique and time-honoured characteristics of Australian voting - compulsion and full preferential voting - had been in place for nearly a century. They should not be changed to advantage one political side or the other.

“Our system has delivered stable government and a custom and practice which means voters at federal elections are most likely to know how to enrol and how to vote and therefore make their vote count. Voting systems should not be changed for short-term partisan advantage.”

Media Contact John Arthur 0408 991 261