FlagPost

Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Rotation of senators following the 2016 double dissolution

Following a double dissolution election, section 13 of the Australian Constitution states that the Senate must decide which of the senators will serve a full six-year term and which will serve a three-year half term and face election at the next federal election.  Read more...

(Almost) everything you need to know about double dissolution elections

 Following the Senate’s rejection of the Building and Construction Industry bills on 18 April 2016, the Prime Minister announced on 19 April that he intended to advise the Governor-General to dissolve both houses of Parliament under powers provided by section 57 of the Australian Constitution, thus precipitating the first double dissolution election in 29 years (the last double dissolution election was in July 1987). The Prime Minister said that he expects the election to be held on 2 July 2016. Read more...

So you’ve been prorogued – Common questions answered

On 21 March 2016 the Prime Minister wrote to the Governor-General to ask the Governor-General to prorogue Parliament on Friday 15 April and summon Parliament to sit again on Monday 18 April 2016. This Flagpost examines what proroguing means for the operation of the Parliament and the possible implications for the Senate’s consideration of certain Bills. Read more...

The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 - optional preferential voting below the line in the Senate

Further to the current Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 that seeks to reform above the line voting for the Senate by introducing optional preferential voting, the Government has recently proposed amendments which would implement optional preferential voting below the line, with voters being asked to allocate at least 12 preferences. The details of these amendments and what they would mean for voters are discussed in this Flagpost. The Parliamentary Library has prepared a Bills Digest on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 as introduced. Read more...

Recent Senate electoral reform proposals

Reform of the Senate electoral system is once again in the news, with reports that the Government wants to pass legislation enabling reform before the budget sitting (that is, effectively by 17 March). Other reports are suggesting that the Australian Greens will produce their own Senate voting reform legislation. Unlike other recent discussions about Senate electoral system reform, the approaches currently being discussed do not follow the May 2014 recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which were outlined in a previous Flagpost. This Flagpost examines some of these new proposals with a particular focus on what constitutes a valid vote. Read more...

Closure of Federal Election Polling Places

In evidence to Senate Estimates in October 2015 the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) revealed that it was considering reducing the number of polling places at federal elections by about 800 (out of around 8,000 at the 2013 federal election).  Read more...

A quick overview of the proposed Senate electoral system

In an interview with the ABC’s Radio National on 22 September 2015 the new Special Minister of State, Hon Mal Brough MP, indicated that he intended to pursue reform of the Senate electoral system. Citing the need to strengthen Australia’s democracy and democratic engagement by implementing a more representative system, the Minister stated that ideally the new system would be in place for the next election (due in the normal course of events in the second half of 2016). In an Interim Report released in May 2014, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) proposed what is perhaps the most radical overhaul of the electoral system used to elect the Australian Senate si... Read more...

The 2015 Canning By-Election

The Speaker of the House of Representatives has announced a by-election for the federal seat of Canning, in Western Australia, following the death of the sitting member, Mr Don Randall, on 21 July 2015. The by-election will be held on 19 September 2015. Read more...

United Kingdom 2015 Election: some Australian comparisons

At the 2013 federal election, Australia returned from a ‘hung’ parliament to the historically more usual situation whereby either Labor or the Coalition holds an absolute majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The United Kingdom general election on 7 May 2015 also saw a move from a ‘hung’ parliament, where the Conservatives were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, to one where the Conservatives will be able to govern in their own right—the first outright majority for the Conservatives since 1992. Read more...

The 2013 Federal Election report from JSCEM

More than 18 months after the loss of almost 1400 Western Australian Senate ballot papers, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) has released the report from its inquiry into the 2013 federal election. It recommends, among other things, winding back direct enrolment and requiring voters to present identification to cast a vote. Read more...