QUOTA  prsa
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Newsletter of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia

 

 

     QN77                             March 1995                    www.prsa.org.au

 

 

         Almost 2/3 Vote to Entrench the ACT's Hare-Clark PR

         Miss Enid Lakeman O.B.E.

         Morling Report Wants Tasmania's Hare-Clark Defended and Extended

         A.C.T. Poll Marks a Doubling of Australia's Hare-Clark Utilization

         Indonesia Reconsiders PR

         A.C.T. Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1994 DECLARATION OF RESULT OF REFERENDUM

         List of issues of Quota Notes

 

 

Almost 2/3 Vote to Entrench the ACT's Hare-Clark PR

 

Shortly before 11 p.m. on referendum night, on the 18th February 1995, electors' approval of the Australian Capital Territory's Proportional Representation (Hare Clark) Entrenchment Bill 1994 was holding at 65% of formal votes. The number of electors voting "YES" reached 97,696 then. That number was just more than half the number of electors on the A.C.T. electoral roll.

That last hurdle, of winning the votes of an absolute majority of the electors on the roll, had easily been jumped. Henceforth the votes of a 2/3 majority of the Assembly, or the approval of a majority of electors on the electoral roll at a referendum, will be required before any legislation can depart from the following key features:

  • Districts have an odd number of members - 5 or more.
  • There is an assured right to a fully preferential vote, without any scope for party boxes; either directly, by party boxes as such, or indirectly, by a law enabling a re-interpretation of the numbers written by voters.
  • Robson Rotation remains in its current form (there is a draw for places for the first order in each column), and countback is used for filling casual vacancies.
  • The three elements of the quota-preferential system that minimize vote wastage remain.

The PRSA's ACT Branch had 100,000 leaflets printed urging a "YES" vote, and giving reasons for it. The leaflet accompanies this issue of Quota Notes.

The broadly-based Hare-Clark Campaign Committee ran campaign events in 1992. This time the Society's ACT Branch had to secure media coverage itself. Useful "YES" publicity was obtained by endorsements over a very wide spectrum, which included Ken Fry (former Labor MHR for Fraser in the ACT), Ted Mack MHR (Independent, North Sydney), Dr Bob Brown (former Tasmanian Greens MHA and soon to be a Tasmanian Senate candidate), and the Earl Kitchener of Khartoum (recently a councillor of the Electoral Reform Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and a colleague of Dr David Hill, who is the ERSGB&I's expert in computer counting of PR elections, and a descendant of Thomas and Rowland Hill, of PR fame.)

Lord Kitchener had earlier visited New Zealand, to study attitudes to their Mixed Member Proportional procedure, and Victoria, where he met the PRSA's Victorian Branch Council, and Victorian PRSA member Mrs Alison Harcourt. He was very interested in her account of the statistical evidence she gave to Australia's Joint Select Committee on Electoral Matters that led to amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. A newspaper interview with the Earl Kitchener indicated his reasons for supporting a "YES" vote, and it gained attention also as it included a photograph of him pointing firmly and decisively at the first Earl's famous recruiting poster.

Two of the ACT Branch's eye-catching signs below appeared in prominent places outside most polling booths, but no separate leaflets were produced for handing out on polling day. The 150 signs were each 900 by 600 mm high, and were conspicuous in black print on firm yellow plastic. Without donations from around Australia and assistance from NSW Branch members with leaflet distribution, those activities might not have been possible.

 

 
DON'T TRUST POLITICIANS

with YOUR Electoral System
 
VOTE
YES
 
to safeguard HARE-CLARK
 
Authorized by B. Musidlak Proportional Representation Society 14 Strzelecki Crescent Narrabundah 2604
 

 

Rallies at Belconnen and Fadden with speakers from supporting parties helped bring the "YES" message to a much wider audience through the media. The speakers did not include any from the Australian Labor Party. Although the Territory's ALP Government had voted for the amended entrenchment Bill, its candidates did not lend any active support, and ALP how-to-vote cards for the concurrent election did not, unlike those for other candidates, make any mention of the referendum. The PRSA's ACT Branch also joined forces with the Movement for Direct Democracy and the Council for Civil Liberties to sponsor a public forum on the voters' role in influencing ACT decision-making. The 90% turnout and 4% informal rate meant that the target for success was about 58% of formal votes. Overall support was in fact only about 0.5 percentage points lower than the vote for Hare-Clark over single-member districts in the advisory referendum of 1992. At most booths the support for entrenchment was within 3% of the support Hare-Clark achieved in 1992.

In the Assembly electoral districts the support was: Molonglo (central Canberra, with the oldest established suburbs), over 68%; Brindabella (mainly the newer southern suburbs of Tuggeranong), 64%; and Ginninderra (the northern suburbs comprising Belconnen), 61%. See Page 4, which shows the declaration of the official final figures, which appeared on the front page of a Special issue of the Australian Capital Territory Gazette. The A.C.T. joins Eire and Malta in protecting the voter-empowering quota-preferential system against opportunistic change - whether such change is attempted in a sudden, dramatic way; or more insidiously.

Every booth had a "YES" majority. In 1992 only the smallest booth lacked a majority for Hare-Clark. There were increases of more than 3 percentage points upon 1992 support for Hare-Clark at 12 booths (one in every six). Increases at the larger booths reached 11 points at Narrabundah and 8-10 points at the two Ainslie booths.

Crispin Hull was the Editor of The Canberra Times when it gave Hare-Clark strong editorial support in 1992, but this time, under his successor, Michelle Grattan, who was replaced in March 1995, it had no firm position on entrenchment. The Australian Electoral Commission sent each elector a booklet that contained the "YES" case, which was attributed to The MLAs that voted in favour of the Entrenchment Bill, and the "NO" case, which was attributed to The MLA that voted against the Entrenchment Bill. A major task for Hare-Clark campaigners was countering the "NO" case, which they saw as a misleading, misinformed diatribe. The "NO" case was prepared by the sole MLA that voted against the Bill in the Assembly, Mr Dennis Stevenson, the Abolish Self-Government Coalition MLA. He did not seek re-election. No candidates stood for that Coalition. It still exists, but it may feel unable to gain even 12.5%. As a majority of the 16 MLAs in favour of entrenchment had to agree on the wording of the "YES" case, the failed attempt to prescribe party boxes above the line could not be mentioned, and the ALP even vetoed mention of voter empowerment through Robson Rotation. As wording disputes were still being resolved on the deadline day, the "YES" case authors paid little attention to layout and lively language, compared to Mr Stevenson's efforts.

Mr Stevenson wrongly claimed that entrenchment would preclude a single ACT-wide electoral district, and he sought to portray entrenchment as a plot against minor parties and independents. The numbers of the latter increased after the election, and thus belatedly disproved that assertion. His more credible argument was that voters should not take a 12-point Hare-Clark entrenchment package on trust before Hare-Clark had been tried in the ACT, and that view might have reduced the "YES" vote. He did not mention that a failure to entrench promptly might allow tampering with Hare-Clark to begin quickly.

 

 

Miss Enid Lakeman O.B.E.

 

An indefatigable campaigner for electoral reform and the involvement of women in political life, Miss Enid Lakeman O.B.E., the Director of the Electoral Reform Society of Great Britain and Ireland until 1980, died on 7th January 1995, at the age of ninety-one. The Queen made her an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the year she retired as the Director of the ERSGB&I.

Born in 1903, she had a great grandfather that campaigned for Lord John Russell's 1832 Reform Bill, and a grandmother that was an early member of the PRSGB&I. A University of London chemistry graduate, Miss Lakeman worked in Germany in the late 1920s where she experienced the first signs of Nazism. During World War II she served as a WAAF Radar Operator from 1941-45. In 1945, at the first UK General Election since 1935, she was one of only two women service personnel to stand for Parliament. She was a Liberal candidate then and at the next three General Elections. It was not a rewarding period in which to stand as a Liberal, but she retained her deposit in 1955. In 1962 she was elected to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

In 1959 and in 1968 she campaigned in Eire in support of the established provision in the Irish Constitution that requires elections by the Single Transferable Vote form of PR in electoral districts returning at least three MPs. In both those years, Irish Governments initiated the necessary referendum to have that provision replaced by a requirement for the UK's relative majority winner-take-all system of single-member electorates. At both polls the simple majority of the Irish voters needed for a change was not gained, and the entrenchment of PR remains a major and valued feature of politics in Eire.

Her numerous pamphlets, articles and major publications included Voting in Democracies (4 editions: 1955-74), and Power to Elect (1982). In 1993 the American Association of Political Science gave her their George Hallett Award. The citation said her book How Democracies Vote had a major impact in the conceptual and empirical analyses of electoral arrangements.

 

 

Morling Report Wants Tasmania's Hare-Clark Defended and Extended

 

The Board of Inquiry set up under Justice Trevor Morling by the Tasmanian Government presented its Report on 15th December 1994. The Board stated that its first preference was that Tasmania should continue to have a bicameral Parliament, and that the numbers of members in each House did not need to be changed.

The Report said that if that preference was accepted, there should however be major changes to the Upper House, the Legislative Council. It recommended that MLCs be no longer elected in single-member districts, but that they be elected from the whole State as one electoral district, using the Hare-Clark electoral system. It proposed that the 19 Council seats each continue to be filled for a 6 year term, with 9 being filled as a group on one occasion, and the remaining 10 being filled 3 years later, and that thereafter such group elections alternate. The Report said that under such a system, MLCs might be expected to have a broad perspective on matters of statewide interest. With half the MLC's going to the polls at the same time, Upper House elections would be seen by the public as being of major importance.

The Report proposed that money bills become law if the Council failed to pass them within 6 weeks, and that the Government be able to put other bills, blocked for more than 9 months, to a referendum, or to call an election.

The Board stated that if, against its advice, the Tasmanian Constitution were amended to reduce the number of MPs, it would want a single House, with 16 single-member seats, and 4 Hare-Clark districts each with 7 MPs.

 

 

A.C.T. Poll Marks a Doubling of Australia's Hare-Clark Utilization

 

At the official declaration of the polls on 2nd March, there was nothing but praise for the new Hare-Clark system, and the manner in which the ACT Electoral Commissioner, Mr Phillip Green, and his team had attended to all aspects of the electoral process. After a mandatory 5-day wait for postal votes, quotas were struck on 25th February. By the 28th it was clear who would be elected. Next day the quotas of the other successful candidates were formed, and securely retained in case casual vacancies arise during this third Assembly.

As most informal votes consisted of blank sheets or just rude comments about self-government or the Assembly, the rather high informal rate in each district appears to have been largely intentional. The A.C.T. electoral law ensures that informality cannot result from errors in numbering beyond the first preference, or a failure to mark as many squares as there are seats. Only 2 of the 74 candidates, the party leaders Mrs Kate Carnell and outgoing Chief Minister Ms Rosemary Follett (both in Molonglo), obtained quotas of first preferences.

The Act entrenching Hare-Clark brings the number of governing Houses in Australia's legislatures elected by that system from one to two - Tasmania's and the ACT's.

ACT votes tended to be more evenly spread within columns than is usual in Tasmania. The Liberals, and the Moore Independents (MI), asked their voters to choose the order of preference within their party column. By contrast, 50-60% of Greens supporters, and 35-70% of ALP voters, marked the first preference shown on their party's how-to-vote card. The ALP claimed that following a fixed order of names was the most effective way of voting Labor. Fewer than half the Labor voters followed that advice in any district. The concentration of first preferences on Ms Follett meant that her Deputy, David Lamont, third in the Party's order, started over 3000 votes behind Michael Moore, and was excluded before the last unsuccessful Liberal. Similarly, fewer than 40% of Democrat (AD) voters marked ACT Greens next, as the AD's how-to-vote guide had indicated.

Apart from the 17 elected candidates, one died during the campaign, 20 gained at least 20% of a quota at the time of exclusion and so will regain their deposit, and 36 forfeited their deposit.

The percentages of first preference votes and seats in the three Assembly electoral districts, and overall, were:

 

 

 

Brindabella

Ginninderra

Molonglo

Total A.C.T.

Votes (%)

Liberal

37.1

40.7

42.8

40.5

MLAs (%)

40.0

40.0

42.8

41.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes (%)

ALP

31.6

32.7

30.9

31.6

MLAs (%)

40.0

40.0

28.6

35.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes (%)

Green

7.9

8.7

10.1

9.1

MLAs (%)

0.0

20.0

14.3

11.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes (%)

M.I.

3.8

8.0

8.8

7.0

MLAs (%)

0.0

0.0

14.3

5.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes (%)

AD

3.8

5.0

3.2

3.9

MLAs (%)

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes (%)

Others

15.8

4.8

4.2

7.9

MLAs (%)

20.0

0.0

0.0

5.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes (%)

Inf.

6.2

6.7

5.9

6.2

Quota

8317

7990

8430

 

Candidates

23

20

31

74

Seats

5

5

7

17

 

 

Indonesia Reconsiders PR

 

Last month, The Australian newspaper (23/2, Page 13) reported that the President of Indonesia has called for a review of Indonesia's electoral system. He has asked the government's Indonesian Institute of Sciences to study the electoral system including a change from the current proportional representation to a first-past-the-post procedure. Voters at Indonesia's five-yearly polls elect 80% of the 500-member parliament. The other 20% is filled by members of the armed forces, the rationale being that it justifies the denial of a vote to the forces at general elections, and that the forces have a duty to play a part in government. When the general populace votes, it is restricted to choosing one of the three officially permitted party lists. They are the Indonesian Democratic Party, the United Development Party, and the ruling party, Golkar, which is closely associated with the armed forces.

Golkar is the only party allowed to campaign between elections. Indonesia's State Secretary, Mr Moerdiono, was reported as saying that there had been suggestions for direct election of individual representatives (required in Australia by Sections 7 and 24 of the Commonwealth Constitution) rather than the current practice of voting for party lists. He said Indonesia was not ready for a direct voting system because of the generally low educational standard of the populace, but that some kind of direct voting may be introduced in the future. Golkar has won an absolute majority at every election since the early 1970s. At the last election in 1992 results were:

 

PARTY

VOTE (%)

POLL SEATS (%)

TOTAL SEATS (%)

Golkar

68

70.5

56.4

United Development

17

15.5

12.4

Democratic Party

15

14.0

11.2

Armed Forces

0

0.0

20.0

 

With Golkar's privileges and high vote, it is difficult to see why relative majority voting would be thought to be needed. Golkar has an absolute majority of seats even after allowing for the armed forces' seats. A relative majority system could give Golkar all the elected seats.

 

 

Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1994

 

DECLARATION OF RESULT OF REFERENDUM

 

On 18 February 1995 the Proportional Representation (Hare-Clark) Entrenchment Bill 1994 (the entrenching law) was submitted to a referendum of the electors of the Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1994.

In accordance with paragraph 14(4)(b) of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1994 I hereby set out the number of votes counted in the referendum and declare the result of the referendum.

 

Number of votes approving of the entrenching law:

109,666

Number of votes opposed to the entrenching law:

59,017

Number of informal ballot papers:

7,190

Number of electors on the electoral roll for the referendum:

195,389

Number of electors whose votes were admitted to the scrutiny but whose names were omitted from the electoral roll by reason of official error:

1,570

Total number of electors entitled to vote at the referendum:

196,959

 

 

Proportion of electors approving the entrenching law:

55.68%

 

According to the results of the referendum set out above, a majority of the electors entitled to vote at the referendum approved the entrenching law.

 

 

1995 Proportional Representation Society of Australia

National President: Bogey Musidlak 14 Strzelecki Cr. NARRABUNDAH 2604

National Secretary: Robert Forster 38 French Street HACKETT ACT 2602

Tel: (02) 6295 8137     info@prsa.org.au

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