The Government welcomes the supportive report and recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters into our proposed Senate voting reforms.
We thank the members of the Committee and all those who have made submissions and given evidence to the inquiry.
Our proposed reforms to Senate voting are designed to ensure that the results of future Senate elections reflect the will of the people.
Our reforms will empower Australian voters to determine what happens to their preferences when voting for the Senate above the line, instead of having those preferences traded and ultimately directed by political parties through insufficiently transparent Group Voting Ticket arrangements.
The Government has considered the issues raised and the recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee to introduce a form of optional preferential voting below the line as well as above the line and has decided to adopt that recommendation.
The Government will move amendments to that effect during the Committee stages of the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016.
Those amendments will provide for instructions to voters to number at least 12 boxes from 1 to 12 in order of their preference when voting below the line, together with a related savings provision that any vote with at least 6 boxes numbered from 1 to 6 below the line would still be considered formal.
These are important reforms in the public interest that will ensure election results reflect the will of voters. We again call on Labor to reconsider their position and to follow the considered advice of their highly regarded Shadow Minister for Electoral Matters Gary Gray instead of just succumbing to the pressures of the union lobby and Labor’s backroom operators.