The federal Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) held hearings yesterday in Canberra, where representatives from five political parties presented evidence on how to reform the Senate voting system, following previous hearings from experts and officials over the last three months.
Yesterday’s appearances, as well as late submission from the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party, saw both parties come out in support of the abolition of group voting tickets (GVTs), and the introduction of optional preferential voting (OPV) in the Senate. The Greens have supported the model for a long time, and the model is currently in use for the NSW Legislative Council.
The Nationals only supported abolishing GVTs if compulsory preferential voting was maintained, which would force voters to number a large number of boxes for their vote to count. That seems unlikely to fly.
Other proposals were made, including the Liberal Party coming out for rules requiring voters to show photo identification when voting. However it seems that JSCEM is planning to put off matters unrelated to the Senate voting system until later in the year, and is now focusing on changes that will effect the Senate.
The umbrella of changes affecting the Senate appears to include two broad approaches: changing the voting system, and changing rules around nominations and party registration.
In addition to the Senate counting system, three other major proposals were raised.
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