of the Proportional Representation
QN51 September 1988 www.prsa.org.au
Showing sound consistency, the same political parties that achieved the now accepted replacement of South Australia's former rigid indirect Party List system are working for the direct quota-preferential system of PR as the proper system for A.C.T. self-government.
NSW was saved from a Party
List system for its
Upper House when the
PRSA urged the then
Liberal opposition to
oppose it at the necessary
referendum. They agreed,
with the Premier, Mr Wran,
settling for the present
bipartisan support for his
successful referendum. In
the light of this history,
a more durable system
might be obtained for the
A.C.T. if the indirect "d'Hondt"
system proposed by the departed
Minister, Mr Punch, were
reconsidered by his more
experienced successor, Mr Clyde
A.C.T. Senator Bob McMullan, writing in a Canberra Times article (15 SEP), has called for "compromise", and has claimed that "full Senate-style PR is totally unsuitable for lower or governing Houses of Parliament, as it has a history of producing unstable government. "
That claim is utterly contradicted by Australia's practical experience. The Tasmanian Lower House has had the world's longest continuous use of quota-preferential PR. Other State Lower Houses have had far greater percentages of independents than Tasmania's. Unlike the Commonwealth and the mainland States, Tasmania has had a two-party system without coalitions. It has had a very few, very brief periods when a Government needed an independent MP's support, but that has also happened in Victoria and South Australia.
Senator McMullan stated that the "consolidated d'Hondt" system includes a modification "to ensure that all votes had full effect" thus giving preferential voting. He wrote, "That is, a further Labor Party compromise!"
The Government's information to the PRSA to date has shown that this "preferential voting" does not provide transferable votes, but extends only to graciously allowing voters to mark preferences that will decide the order of election of candidates within the single Party List voted for.
The indirect d'Hondt system would not have been consistent with the failed "Fair Elections" Constitution proposal. The ALP instigated that referendum and 51% of A.C.T. voters supported it. That should give the Federal Government some reasons to be ashamed of its d'Hondt proposal to restrict voters' rights.
A Canberra Times
article by the AD's Spokesperson, Senator
Jean Jenkins, has proposed a Hare-Clark
approach including Robson Rotation
of names on ballot-papers. The ADs and
Opposition need our members'
encouragement, as an A.C.T. Party List
system would be a very bad example for
other governments in Australia.
In Victoria, where 1st October is election day, the ALP is proposing PR for the Upper House. Victoria is Australia's only bicameral parliament that does not have PR elections for either House.
The Australian Democrats have voted to recommend preferences against the Liberals and Nationals as they chose to reject in the Upper House, which they control, a recently submitted Bill for PR. The ADs will focus their resources on key marginal seats - a tactic to which single member electorate systems are particularly vulnerable.
The Annual General
Meeting of the PRSA's Victorian Branch
on 28th September will be addressed by
Hon. David White, Deputy Government
Leader in the Legislative Council. The
Branch will discuss with him objections
to aspects of the recent PR Bill such as
the indirect and discriminatory
proposals for filling casual vacancies,
the Senate-style Group Voting tickets,
the order of candidates on the
ballot-paper being decided by the
parties, and the requirement that for a
formal vote more preferences than the
number of vacancies need be marked.
At the August ballot of PRSA
members on this Bill, 40 voters
(70%) agreed to the Society's supporting
and 17 (30%) opposed that. Letters by
the National President explaining the
Society's support for the Bill were then
sent to newspapers in all States and
were published in the Melbourne Herald
and the Adelaide Advertiser.
A UK law journal has stated that in October 1987 the NZ Government announced, for November 1989, referendums on a four year parliamentary term (familiar?) and "Proportional Representation". We have not heard of any decision yet on whether the partly indirect "Mixed Member Proportional" system is to be the only alternative to the present system or whether voters will be able to choose the entirely direct quota-preferential system.
© 1988 Proportional
Representation Society of
National President: Geoffrey Goode 18 Anita Street BEAUMARIS VIC 3193
National Secretary: Andrew Gunter 5 Wheatland Road MALVERN VIC 3144
Tel: (03) 9589 1802, (03) 9509 1514 email@example.com