Lawyers for South Australian senator Bob Day have told the High Court new Senate voting reforms are “unconstitutional”. The new laws were set up to prevent elaborate preference deals, which have helped micro party and independent senators get elected. The controversial laws were passed with the help of senator Nick Xenophon and the Greens after a 28-hour session of Parliament in March. Senator Day is challenging the laws in the High Court.
Under the laws, voters number 1 to 6 above the line in order of their preferences or number individual candidates below the line. Senator Day and his lawyers argued that the new method was not a choice between candidates, but rather a choice between voting methods, and it was “unconstitutional”.
But the Commonwealth lawyers said the new scheme gave voters more control over their preferences. That is because instead of just voting for a preferred party above the line, often without knowing where their preferences have been directed, voters will now have to specify their choices.