of the Proportional Representation
QN56 December 1989 www.prsa.org.au
This month's election has changed the players in the Queensland Parliament, but not the system that elected them. Under that severely malapportioned single-member electoral district system, the ALP was remarkably lucky to have obtained an absolute majority of Assembly seats with such a small absolute majority of the total first preference vote.
With such a margin, a PR system would have much more predictably given the ALP an absolute majority of seats, but more importantly it would, in the preceding elections, have denied the National Party the gross over-representation that allowed them to govern for so long either alone or in coalition with a greatly under-represented Liberal Party. That distortion fuelled the corruption, and also removed the means of publicizing and remedying it sooner.
graphs and tables for the 1989 and
1986 elections are based on figures
supplied by our N.S.W.
Vice-President, Mr Ed Haber, who
The PRSA's Queensland Branch will use these figures in the submission, mentioned in the last "Quota Notes", that it will make to the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission.
S.A. Branch Secretary, Mr Deane Crabb, reports that for up to 4 years from last month's election a grouping of the ALP and 2 Independent Labor MHAs will hold 53% of South Australia's Lower House seats, yet their two main opponents, the Liberals and the Democrats, together received 54% of the first preference vote statewide.
the media fuss created earlier this
A motion debated at the recent State Conference of the Tasmanian Division of the Liberal Party sought to make it Party policy that Tasmania's longstanding Hare-Clark electoral system should be replaced by a system of single-member electoral districts. The opposition to the motion was led by the person that had lost the most significant office in the 1989 election - the former Premier, Mr Robin Gray. He described Hare-Clark as "the world's fairest electoral system".
The candidate that gained the highest vote in Bass, Dr Frank Madill, said, "Under Hare-Clark there is no such thing as a safe seat, so politicians must always work'' hard to be re-elected." Mr Braid, a minister before the election, said that Hare-Clark was the best and fairest system because it allowed the choice of candidates and the choice of members.
of these speakers showed great
integrity in not blaming the system
for their party's defeat. Each had
been a member of the former
government, and could have been
tempted, as some Conference
delegates were, to look for a
scapegoat. Instead they put
former Deputy Premier, Mr Ray Groom,
a one-time Victorian footballer and
Fraser Government Environment
Minister, irreverently nicknamed "
The notion to abandon the party's commitment to Hare-Clark was defeated 32-53.
Neil Robson MHA was the
instigator of the successful 1979
legislation that established the
practice of rotating the positions
of candidates' names on
a proposal moves towards emphasizing
the election of a government and
then ensuring that the government so
elected has a parliament to suit it.
Let us hope that some Liberals have
not become so accustomed to
Parliament being rigidly controlled
by the Government that they feel
uncomfortable when the written
constitutional realities emerge as
at present in
It is noteworthy that official figures from 1959, when the number of seats per electoral district was increased from 6 to 7, show that, in the 5 out of 9 elections from then in which there was a statewide absolute majority of first preference votes for a single party, that party always gained an absolute majority of Assembly seats. The PRSA will examine the Robson proposals much more closely if they see the light of day.
The system used for elections by the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne is being reviewed by a committee due to report to the forthcoming Synod. The system, a modified "Points System", is prescribed by the Synod's Regulation of Elections Act 1980 relevant extracts of which are shown on Page 4. It is used for both single and multiple vacancies including elections by the Synod for:
(a) the Diocesan Council, in conjunction with which the Archbishop administers the Diocese,
(b) the Board of Nominators (9 lay members and 9 clerics) elected under the Archbishop Election Act 1988 to present a shortlist of 3-6 candidates from which the Synod fills any vacancy (as exists at present)in the office of Archbishop, and
(c) the position of Archbishop.
review was prompted by concerns
about the fairness of the Points
System. Three examples
by Enid Lakeman
indicating major weaknesses in the
system are shown on Page 4.
The "parties" she refers to are not
Political Parties but are voters and
candidates with similar views or
causes. It is well recognized that
such groupings occur in Synod
elections. The General Synod
of the Church of England in
The "Points System" is a set of rules without an inherent rationale. Its approach is negative as it serves to rule out candidates strongly disliked by a core of voters. It then causes the residue to be elected by default. By contrast PR is positive and allows each quota of votes to identify the wanted candidate and to elect that candidate. The residue are unelected.
The PRSA has provided advice to Synod members on why PR should be adopted in the Melbourne Diocese.
The Returning Officer for the recent Constitutional Referendum, the National Secretary, Mr Andrew Gunter, has reported that all 3 motions were carried, the valid votes for Motions A, B and C being 47-0, 45-1, and 47-0 respectively.
Motion A has resulted in the establishment of our newest Branch, the Proportional Representation Society of Australia (Australian Capital Territory Branch). It is hoped that the Branch's first Office-bearers can be announced in the next "Quota Notes".
Motion B has enabled the making of regulations. The first of these is PRSA Regulation No. 1, "Life Members and Honorary Life Members". It provides a system for national registration of these members and for their transfer between branches. A copy of the full text has been posted to each Branch Secretary, and will be posted free to any member on written request. A postal ballot on the regulation shall be held if within 90 days a written request by any two members for a ballot has been received by the National Secretary.
The Returning Officer for the election of National Office-Bearers for 1990-91, the SA Branch Secretary, Mr Deane Crabb, has declared the following elected unopposed:
President: Geoffrey Goode
Vice-President: David Higbed
Secretary: John Alexander
Treasurer: Leonard Higgs
The newcomer is John Alexander, the NSW Branch Secretary. The Society is grateful to the outgoing National Secretary, Andrew Gunter. He was the subject, complete with large handsome photograph, of the main feature article in "The Mercury" of 12th February 1986 when he represented the PRSA at the State election tally room. He also joined the President in meeting the Territories Minister, Clyde Holding, to put the PRSA case against Machiavellian d'Hondt for the ACT. Andrew was recently elected President of the Victorian Branch.
© 1989 Proportional
Representation Society of
National President: Geoffrey Goode 18 Anita Street BEAUMARIS 3193
Andrew Gunter 177
National Secretary (1990-91): John Alexander 5 Bray Street MOSMAN NEW SOUTH WALES 2088
Tel: (03) 9598 1802 (02) 960 2193 firstname.lastname@example.org
To consolidate and amend the Law for the Regulation of Elections by Synod.
BE IT ENACTED by the Archbishop, the Clergy and the Laity of the Church of England in Australia within the Diocese of Melbourne in Victoria duly met in Synod according to law as follows:
1. This Act may be cited as the Regulation of Elections Act 1980.
2. The Regulation of Elections Act (Number 3 of 1888) as amended by any Act and the Act Number 2 of 1907 as amended by any Act are hereby repealed provided that all persons things and circumstances appointed or created by or under those Acts or existing or continuing under those Acts immediately before the commencement of this Act shall under and subject to this Act continue to have the same status operation and effect as they respectively would have had if those Acts had not been repealed.
21. The results of any Election shall be ascertained according to the rules in Schedule C.
Where a voter has written a numeral opposite the name of one at least of the candidates named on a voting paper the numeral opposite the name of a candidate and a blank opposite the name of a candidate shall represent a number of votes against that candidate ascertained by the following rules:
1. A blank opposite the name of a candidate shall be deemed to be the numeral higher by one than the highest numeral written on the voting paper by the voter.
2. The number of votes to be counted against a candidate shall be determined by the formula
a + n + 1
a is the number of candidates opposite whose name or names the voter has written a numeral lower than the numeral written opposite the name of that candidate, n is the number of candidates opposite whose name or names the voter has written a numeral the same as that which is written opposite the name of that candidate.
The candidate against whom the lowest number of votes is cast shall be the candidate or the first candidate elected as the case may require and the candidate against whom the next lowest number is cast shall be the second candidate elected and so on until the required number is elected.
Best candidate may be defeated.
Two to elect out of five candidates
The elected candidates are B and C, with a value of 12 each, but A, who polled three first preferences, could defeat either on a straight fight by three votes to two.
No security for fair representation
Four to elect out of five candidates
E has the support (first preferences) of four voters out of the sixteen. Under a proportional system he is entitled to be elected as one of the four representatives. But party ABCD, by voting according to plan, can ensure E's defeat. In the example, the total value of preferences for A, or B, or C, or D is less than the total value of preferences for E.
The representation obtained by a party depends on the way its voters distribute their preferences among that party's candidates. A highly disciplined party, which can arrange that approximately equal numbers of first preferences go to each of its candidates while the other party's candidates are marked in roughly the same order, may get more seats than a larger party whose voters follow their own inclinations - especially if this larger party has one outstandingly popular candidate.
are three to be elected and each of
two parties puts up three
candidates. The party with three
voters elects candidates A and C;
the party with four voters elects
only candidate D.
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