Supplement to Quota Notes No. 60, December 1990
Registered Publication No. NBH 4671
ANNUAL REPORT 1990
the past year, both the
Many more people have started questioning the virtues of single-member electorates. This Society has received an increase number of enquiries from individuals and organisations about electoral reform issues, particularly about proportional representation. This has even led to an increase in both membership and attendance at the Society's meetings.
The Society prepared an analysis of the 1989 State elections and made a submission to the House of Assembly Select Committee on Electoral Redistribution. Several members made individual submissions along with Malcolm Mackerras and the Australian Democrats calling for proportional representation to be introduced.
year is both the 60th anniversary of the Society and the 150th anniversary of
the first public election in the world in which the principle of proportional
representation was put into effect - to elect the Municipal Corporation of
the City of
Geoffrey Goode's visit continues this Society's close liaison with the national body and some of the other State branches. As the SA Branch, we are now involved in distributing "Quota Notes", which is invaluable in keeping members informed. The national organisation has made a submission to the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Matters while the Queensland Branch made submissions to the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission on both State and Local Government elections.
An interesting development this year has been not only the request to conduct elections using proportional representation for various representative bodies but payment for services rendered. Members of the Society have obviously built-up an expertise which we need to capitalise on.
At the local government level, the Society made a submission to the Marion Council on the review of ward boundaries. Several more councils have changed to proportional representation.
In thanking members, office-bearers and supporters for their efforts over the past year, special mention must be made of Len Higgs who has been treasurer since 1940. Honorary life membership and a special presentation was made to him at the Society's 60th anniversary meeting. Such staunch service is an example to us all.
Ph: (08) 297 6441 (H) 226 0342 (W)
REPRESENTATION SOCIETY OF
International 6135891802 BEAUMARIS
28th September 1990
ADDRESS BY NATIONAL PRESIDENT, PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA, TO THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE ELECTORAL REFORM SOCIETY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA IN ADELAIDE TO COMMEMORATE THE ERSSA'S 60TH ANNIVERSARY AND THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST PUBLIC ELECTION IN THE WORLD BY A QUOTA METHOD (TO ELECT THE ADELAIDE CITY COUNCIL)
year 1840 was only 8 years after the House of Commons passed the Reform
Act of 1832, which among other things abolished the rotten boroughs
and the pocket boroughs that had become so notorious in 18th Century
progress has proportional representation made since then? The principle of
proportional representation has undoubtedly become widely recognized as the
most compelling basis for organizations and bodies politic that are motivated
to establish properly representative governing bodies. The principle has been
most widely recognized on the continent of Europe, beginning late last
century and with converts as recent as post-Franco
that the Japanese Government is considering replacing its Lower House's
Single non-transferable vote multi-member electorate system with a
proportional representation system are being pursued, initially by the
Proportional Representation Society of Australia, and at our suggestion, by
the Electoral Reform Society of Great Britain and
home there has been a Royal Commission in
This pleasing scene is not darkened by any significant or successful move
away from proportional representation. Few users of proportional
representation are claiming any supposed superiority of majority-only
systems, except perhaps in
Representation: In the Proportional Representation Society of Australia and its various branches, which include the Electoral Reform Society of South Australia, the word "representation" refers to the voter being represented in a multi-member electorate by the candidate that is the preferred choice of representative of the individual voter. That candidate may or may not be a member of a party.
Those that support the approach of the Party List procedure do not treat the word "representation" as carefully. They consider it sufficient for voters to have a party to represent them, and do not consider it necessary for voters to be allowed to decide which members of that party are to be the representatives. The quota-preferential system is designed to allow voters full and flexible choice of the individuals that represent them, but the Party List procedure is not.
the Party List procedure is appealing to those in power inside Party machines
because it greatly enhances their power to influence the outcome of
elections. Accordingly many proportional representation approaches proposed
by such sources tend to be Party List procedures rather than the greatly
preferable quota-preferential systems. Thus Labour Party enthusiasts in
I am aware that the Electoral Reform Society of South Australia changed its name to its present name because of its successful opposition to the Party List approach to proportional representation instituted by the Dunstan Government. It is pleasing to hear that Mr Ren de Garis, the well-known former Liberal Party Leader in the Legislative Council, is advocating proportional representation for the South Australian House of Assembly, but less pleasing to realize that it is the West German Party List procedure that he favours, rather than Hare-Clark.
election: Fortunately in
right has never existed in the case of Senate casual vacancies. Such senators
hold their seats without the Australian voters being consulted. By contrast
Robson Rotation: We in the Proportional Representation Society of Australia know how Hare-Clark excels. Nevertheless I was very pleased when I was lucky enough to telephone Neil Robson, a Liberal Party MHA for Bass, just after he had walked out of the Assembly after successfully having his Private Member's Bill, for what is now known as "Robson rotation", passed. He was a happy man, and mentioned to me that the then ALP Premier, Doug Lowe, had given a loud "Hear!, Hear!" during his second reading speech. Tasmania's Parliamentary Labour Party was then under threat of an unprecedented move by the Party organization to issue a rigid "how-to-vote" card that would have destroyed the long-standing practice by both major parties of telling their voters to decide the order in which they voted for the Party's group of candidates in each electorate.
interesting occasion was when I was in Tasmania and heard the ABC News report
the release from Risdon Gaol that morning of Dr Bob Brown of the Tasmanian
Wilderness Society. The next item was a deadpan report that the Electoral
Office had that afternoon completed a countback
to fill the casual vacancy created by the
resignation of Dr Norm Sanders MHA, and that the candidate duly declared
elected as the new MHA for
Geoffrey Goode, National President