Oct 01, 2013
Mr Geoffrey Goode
Proportional Representation
 
Why the Senate's Proportional Electoral System Should be Reformed  to Operate More like Tasmania's Hare-Clark System.
 
Contentious changes over the years to aspects of the Senate electoral system have seen it unfortunately losing some of the outstanding and lasting qualities of Tasmania’s century-old Hare-Clark electoral system. These were:

1934: Full preferential voting replaced optional preferential voting for vote to be formal

1940: Listing of party candidates’ names in an order determined by the party

1977: Choosing to fill casual vacancies by party appointment, rather than by recount.

1983: Above-the-line voting encouraging delegation of votes to parties

The predictable effect of those party-friendly, but not voter-friendly, changes has been a steady increase in the number of micro-parties, culminating in 2013 in a record 110 Senate candidates in NSW. In some States, candidates of parties gaining minuscule first preference support have been elected. Group Voting Tickets lead to proliferation of flimsy micro-parties with simplistic catchy titles whose Tickets appear to be organized as mutual support for each other at the expense of more substantial parties.

 By contrast, Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system has evolved to become more democratic, rather than evolving the other way, as the Senate has. Its major reforms have been:

1918: Filling casual vacancies by recount (count back)

   1979: Listing of party candidates’ names by rotation (Robson Rotation)

Geoffrey Goode is President of the Victoria-Tasmania Branch of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia and was the National President 1986-93. Before serving as Treasurer of the Australian Conservation Foundation 1973-85, he had a term as a municipal councillor. Prior to retiring in 2000, he was a scientist in the former Telstra Research Laboratories.

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