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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7661

Voting

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for letter dated 21 May 2018, referring petition number EN0501 to me as the Minister responsible for electoral matters. The petition requests that a 'none of the above' option be included on the ballot paper for federal elections, and that if the majority of electors were to vote this option, it should force a fresh election with fresh candidates.

Australia's system of government affords its citizens several ways of influencing the candidates that appear on ballot papers. Citizens can:

nominate themselves as a candidate;

support someone else's nomination; or

join a registered political party and participate in the candidate preselection process.

A small number of comparable liberal democracies like Norway and Canada provide a 'none of the above' (NOTA) ballot option. However, the petition's request that this option could invalidate a lawful election, in which millions of Australians participated, goes considerably beyond these international examples. In these countries, NOTA votes are treated as equivalent to an informal vote, and have no bearing on an election result. It is also unclear how NOTA would work in our system of preferential voting.

For these reasons, and taking account of the Government's existing priorities for electoral reform, I do not support the petition's request. Thank you for bringing the concerns referred to in the petition to my attention.

Yours sincerely,

from the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann