OPINION: Senate requires reform

THE Federal Government is seeking to change the rules concerning how people get elected to the Senate. The aim of the legislation is to basically halt the manipulation of the preferential voting system.

The ALP and the so-called "micro parties" are opposing the legislation. I'm not sure of the reasons behind Labor's opposition but the micro parties' objections are obvious. Independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon and The Greens are supporting the Government's amendments.

Yes. You heard correctly. The Greens have aligned themselves with the LNP. Now, personally, I thought there was more chance of Corey Bernardi leading the parade at Mardi Gras than that happening but sometimes politics maketh strange bedfellows.

Anything is possible, I guess. Anything except for the possibility of reducing the size of the Senate Ballot Paper. The proposed amendments are only aimed at making it harder for people who garner a tiny percentage of the vote from winning a Senate seat. Not to restrict the number of people nominating for the Senate.

I'm not one of the majority who just number "One" above the line. Frankly, I don't trust the backroom deals done to secure preferences, so I diligently number my own preferences from 1 - 487 523. Okay, I exaggerate.....but only slightly.

It's these preference deals that have resulted in some real dog's bodies getting elected on ridiculously miniscule percentages of the vote.

A healthy democracy must of course encourage a wide range of views and communities to be represented on the floor of our Parliament but just how representative of the community is a Senator who only managed to attract 0.4% of the primary vote?

Whilst we must ensure that Parliament is representative of all Australians, we must also ensure that democracy isn't played by tiny self-interest groups or by those manipulated by multi-nationals (like a certain outspoken NSW Senator who openly admits accepting funding from Big Tobacco....in his case, who does he actually represent? The 9.5% of NSW people who actually bothered to vote for him, or his mega-wealthy backers?)

I wouldn't like to see these amendments result in a Senate top heavy with LNP and ALP members. That would surely be a recipe for perpetual political inertia.

But by the same token, I wouldn't like to see good legislation defeated or bad compromises made in order to secure votes from Senators who really don't have the majority of voters' interests as their priority.

A pure Democracy is a Utopian and completely unrealistic ideal in a modern world. The only workable model is one where the majority hopefully gets it right. Whilst it is only right that these amendments do not remove the right of every Australian to stand for the Senate, it is equally only right that measures be taken to ensure the purpose of the Senate isn't adulterated by tiny self-interest groups who have played the system.

If we continue with the current preference procedures that result in people getting elected on tiny percentages of the primary vote, then we have quite simply ended up with an electoral system that makes the Eurovision voting system look pure genius.

Therefore, any legitimate attempts to rectify these anomalies is a good idea.