This morning my dissenting report on behalf of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party was tabled in the House of Representatives.
The report highlights the key risks and issues in relation to the Bill.
At the time of writing the report, I had grave concerns about how the above the line savings provision might be able to be manipulated. This morning I have been made aware of some recommendations from the Joint Committee in relation to below the line voting. These recommendations are very similar to a recommendation I made in the dissenting report (see recommendation 6(a) below). However the Joint Committee also recommended that a savings provision be introduced ensure that any ballot with at least six boxes numbered in a sequential order be considered formal. This suggests that the Government thinks that Australian voters are not able to number a series of boxes from 1 to 12 and frankly, I find this insulting.
The Government is arguing that the current system is being gamed, however the Government, Greens and Senator Xenophon are colluding to introduce a provision to below the line voting that can be manipulated and exploited at the ballot box.
As the AEC identified yesterday, they have presented an optimistic time estimate in relation to implementing the necessary changes. Is the AEC over promising so as not to get the Government Ministers offside? Are we about to see an under delivered project like Myki was around 10 years ago?
I believe that we can make a smaller set of changes before the next election. My report outlines these changes. These should be considered as transitional arrangements for the next election.
This will allow for a more mature and comprehensive debate, where all options can be considered by the Senate in detail, not just those within a select club.
My dissenting report presents my concerns with not only the Bill, but how the current Act fails to encourage candidate-based voting below the line voting and favours party-based above the line voting.
I also propose some inquiries that can explore in further detail how the Senate can remain free of partisan politics.
It is my belief that the system should be changed so that the disparity between independent candidates and political parties can be narrowed.
I encourage you to read my dissenting report, share it with your friends, and have your say to your state Senator or local Member.
Recommendation 1 - Make the necessary resources available to non-Government members who wish to be involved in this debate.
Born and educated in the Gippsland region, Ricky Muir has spent most of his working life in agriculture, the automotive component industry, and the timber industry.