Newsletter of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia



             QN51                                    September 1988                      www.prsa.org.au



         Opposition & ADs Champion Quota-Preferential for A.C.T.


         Opposition & ADs Champion Quota-Preferential for Victoria


         PRSA Ballot on Constitution Alteration (Fair Elections) Bill


         New Zealand Electoral Reform


         Back issues of Quota Notes



Opposition & ADs Champion Quota-Preferential for A.C.T.

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.

In 1978 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 quota-preferential system, thereby obtaining 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" Party List system proposed by the departed Minister, Mr Punch, were reconsidered by his more experienced successor, Mr Clyde Holding.

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.

Opposition & ADs Champion Quota-Preferential for Victoria

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.

PRSA Ballot on Constitution Alteration (Fair Elections) Bill

At the August ballot of PRSA members on this Bill, 40 voters (70%) agreed to the Society's supporting the Bill 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.

New Zealand Electoral Reform

 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 Australia

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    info@prsa.org.au

Regd. Australia Post Publication No. NBH 4671 ISSN 0792-9699