Session 1 day 2(b)

Friday 24 February (day 2)

(scribe/author: Pam Smith)

Session 1:  Electoral and Related Reform

Panel:  Antony Green (online), Graeme Orr, Gerry Wood, Jeff Collins, Ken Parish, Danial Kelly

Anthony Green

  • Disconnect between voters and the electoral system
  • Optional preferential voting good for those in remote areas and non-English speaking backgrounds.
  • More disclosure and explanation of laws but not the only answer.

Graeme Orr

  • Qld identical to NT in the lack of checks and balances
  • No upper house for checks and balances
  • Single tabloid that shapes the agenda
  • Qld abolished optional preferential voting
  • moving to real time disclosure with election financing
  • Political financing a real challenge across all jurisdictions
  • Population small so upper house difficult and not a big gene pool
  • MMP style like NZ a possibility
  • Single member electorates may not be best thing for indigenous constituents.
  • Indigenous Advisory Council a possibility.

Gerry Wood

  • Donations – cap on how much people can donate – eg $30.000
  • The concept of a maximum donation – anything over $100 needs a receipt
  • Create an even playing field
  • NO taxpayer funding
  • Returns – unfair system – unfair for independents
  • Voting- doesn’t believe in optional preferential;
  • MME give better chance of representation
  • Media – important part and can change the way people vote.
  • Journalists need to give both sides of argument – this is important for a democracy

Jeff Collins

  • We have an inherited system – familiarity with the system we have is important
  • MMC would just end up increasing the size of an electorate
  • Our electorates are small. We have a numerical advantage as members can service them well.
  • Idea of portfolio review committees being looked at by present government.
  • Supports full preference voting
  • Our system is compulsory attendance not compulsory voting!

Ken Parish

  • Donations – disclosure should happen during the election – need to know who is funding parties
  • Needs radical reform – we have the software to enable this.
  • MME – a good idea – advantages 1. Proportion of representatives more closely aligned to the votes they get, 2. Bigger talent pool to work with
  • People are deterred from standing when ‘winner takes all.’
  • Need enough members from whom we can select competent ministers.
  • Electorates wouldn’t be huge
  • Independents a positive in our government
  • Would still have the majority ALP and CLP

Danial Kelly

  • No gene pool problem
  • We have a deterrence problem – people abhor the idea of being a politician
  • Funding leads to deterrence
  • Need to have a change that is robust and lasts
  • ALP spend 4 negative dollars to 1 positive in advertising! One side is bad x4 and one is good. Turns people off
  • Campaign is negative and dumb – the effect of this deters peole from standing.
  • All expenses relating to a campaign should be attributed to the individual and capped
  • If individual wants to donate part of that to the party campaign then they can do that.
  • Standard and approved amount of information about each candidate could be contained on a website – low cost – possibly Electoral Commission Website
  • Outcomes
  1. Public well informed
  2. No flood of dumb advertising
  3. More sophisticated discussion around issues
  4. Can assist good governance

Comments and questions

Anthony Green

  • Single member electorates with some form of top up might work
  • Top up allocated to parties who have less seats

Steve Hatton

  • Believes in compulsory preferential voting
  • Electorates so small – forces oNE member to get to know their constituents

Gerry Wood

  • Let’s have a good review of options tht might be better – there is something wrong when 31% of votes gives only 2 members in parliament!

Question – How would you deal with candidates who work for a minister – they have an advantage over another citizen standing for election for the first time?

Ken P

  • Can’t prohibit this – all is not a level playing field – incumbency also an advantage

Graeme O

  • No system is perfect

Question – How realistic is the suggestion re advertising etc in light of developments in technology – social networks?

Danial – Have to have a definition of what is advertising material. Can be argued that there are ways to get around this

Graeme – Mix of party-centred and individual funding

Gerry – personal contact still most effective and important. Letting constituents know what you stand for

Question- How are top up members elected?

Antony Green – List of members nominated before the election used to top up.

Question – MME encourages people to be lazy. One person ends up doing all the work How would you convince Canberra to allow up 40 + members of parliament?

Ken – The electorates would still be small. Can finace and money would be well spent if you get better representation and government – more consensus between parties.

Question – Most preferred group to get re-elected are sitting members. How is this fair that they get 4 years to campaign and new members get nothing?

Danial – Look at the last election this did not happen! You can’t really do anything about this.

Question – If you want to improve candidates why is there not a course at university?

Response – a good idea

Question to Jeff Collins – What do you want to change?

Jeff C –Caps on campaign finance a good idea. Need to work on the area of disclosure.

Antony Green

  • Biggest problem is that NT is small jurisdiction
  • Parties need to be watched. Parties have to look after broader issues – independents don’t.