Senate reform urgently required to fix flawed political system

Monday, 14 March 2016

Proposed reforms to Senate voting arrangements are urgently required to combat excessive short-termism in national policy-making and to boost confidence in the federal democratic system.

“Reforms to address the inconsistent and undemocratic outcomes produced by the current Senate voting and preference model are a vital step in improving the governance of the nation,” said John Brogden, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

“The current Senate voting arrangements allow for gaming that does not reflect the will of the people. Ensuring that the Senate voting system delivers results more closely aligned with the will of voters will strengthen confidence in its role and representation,” Mr Brogden said.

The outcomes of the current Senate voting system fail to ensure that intentions at the ballot box are reflected in the make-up of parliament. It is unlikely that Victorian voters believed a candidate with just over 17,000 votes would be elected ahead of another with almost 390,000 votes in the 2013 federal election.

The AICD’s Director Sentiment Index last year found that directors rated “balance of power issues in the Senate” as the third biggest economic challenge facing Australia. And 83 per cent rates the quality of public policy debate as “poor” or “very poor” in an outcome that is partly attributable to the influence of micro parties.

“The AICD endorses the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 and urges its quick passage as a first step in countering the short-termism that impacts Australian politics,” Mr Brogden said.

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