Senate voting changes, if passed in their current form, are almost certain to incur a High Court challenge, polling experts have warned. Veteran psephologist Malcolm Mackerras said the voting changes – which would clear the way for a snap double-dissolution election likely to clean out the current crossbench – stemmed from a “filthy deal” between the Greens and the Liberal Party, “led by the unelected, dud Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull”. Greens senator Lee Rhiannon questions Glenn Druery when he appeared before the Senate voting reform committee on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Meares Mr Mackerras faced a truncated hearing of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters along with fellow psephologist Antony Green, the ABC election expert, constitutional expert Professor George Williams and University of Tasmania academic Dr Kevin Bonham.
Their criticism of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill – designed to end the era of “preference harvesting” by micro parties – centred on a perceived discrepancy in that the new Senate ballot paper will provide for optional preferential voting above the line but retain full preferential voting below the line.
That means that if a voter made the same six preferences below the line as they did above the line their ballot would be deemed invalid because those going below the line will still have to number all boxes – which can entail choosing between more than 100 candidates in some states.