The Turnbull government has moved to amend its electoral legislation two days after it was introduced to parliament, after concerns preliminary Senate results would no longer be available on election night. The Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the legislation had been rushed and the amendments “exposed how bad this dirty deal is”. The bill introduced to the lower house on Monday included new procedures for the scrutiny of Senate votes, with the assistant returning officer being required to count the number of ballot papers without inspecting them. “There will no longer be requirements to reject informal Senate ballot papers or count first preference votes prior to transmission to the Australian electoral officer,” the government’s original explanatory memorandum said.
But the government moved a one-page set of amendments on Wednesday to add a requirement to count the number of above-the-line first-preference votes. This preliminary count would have to be communicated to the divisional returning officers “as soon as practicable”.
The ABC election analyst, Antony Green, highlighted the issue in a blogpost on Monday, saying the original bill would end Senate results being published on election night in what looked like a cost-saving measure.
It is understood the Greens, who are supporting the overarching electoral reforms, also raised its concerns with the government.