Electoral Matters Committee Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2018 Victorian State Election

22 Jun 2022

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Parliament

I rise to speak on the Electoral Matters Committee report on the inquiry into the 2018 election. Most of the submissions to that inquiry related to group voting tickets. The inquiry did not consider those; in fact I believe witnesses were actually gagged from talking about group voting tickets, and promises were made for a specific inquiry into that issue. The committee also issued its report and recommended an inquiry into the upper house voting system.

Five months out from the election this has not occurred. That is a broken promise. We will now have, or it looks like we will have, another election in Victoria and Victoria will now be the only state or territory with the old group voting ticket system, which has the potential for MPs to be voted in with just a tiny number of votes. In WA, the last state to get rid of group voting tickets, we had a representative elected on just 98 votes—98 votes out of around 50 000. That does not reflect the will of voters. Instead it reflects the will of backroom deals, now with money changing hands so parties and candidates can buy into preference-harvesting cartels. This is farcical at best, corrupt at worst. Anyone with a sense of democracy would see this as incredibly wrong and undemocratic, and it can be changed right now before the election with the government introducing legislation. Proportional representation should, as best as possible, have the number of representatives match up with the number of votes cast for them. Getting rid of group voting tickets does not guarantee politically the representatives that you might want, but it should, as best as possible, reflect the will of the voters.

I would really warn the government against sticking with this system in perhaps some attempt to game the system or get the upper house that they want. Any attempts I think to try and get the result that you want through gaming the system will no doubt indeed backfire. I note that when proportional representation was first introduced into the upper house in Victoria there were a few iterations of what it should look like. The Labor government of the day landed on one that probably did not quite reflect what the recommendations were, and of course not long after there was a Liberal-National majority in the upper house. Proportional representation resulted in a majority for a party that I think just won 50 per cent of the overall primary vote. So I would warn against that. I would urge the government to reform group voting tickets—to abolish group voting tickets—to have true proportional representation in the upper house and to not put their faith in backroom deals but put their trust in voters and the Victorian people.

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