FlagPost

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

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Known unknowns about the same sex marriage survey

Following its failure to reintroduce the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 to the Senate Notice Paper, the Government has directed the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to conduct a survey of all electors ‘about whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry’. In the absence of enabling legislation, and with no historical precedent of the ABS running a national survey of all electors, there remain many unanswered questions as to how the vote will proceed, both in terms of law and logistics. Read more...

Mini-Redistributions: Representational Russian Roulette

A recent newspaper article suggests that the Prime Minister might be forced to call an early election in August or September 2018, however the recent release of the population estimates from the Census may complicate this. Read more...

Gains and losses on the electorate roundabout

The latest population data released today (27 June 2017) by the ABS suggests that, for the next election, the number of divisions in South Australia will reduce by one (from 11 to 10) and the number of divisions in both Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory will increase by one. There will be no change in the number of divisions for any other state or territory. 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...

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...

iVote, therefore I am

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis popularised the idea of the states being the ’laboratories of democracy‘, which seems like a good way to describe the moves towards electronic voting in NSW state elections. The 2015 NSW state election to be held on 23 March will involve what will be one of the largest binding elections involving remote internet voting in the world. While remote internet voting was used in the NSW state election in 2011 on a smaller scale, the NSW Electoral Commission estimates that up to 200,000 voters will use iVote in the 2015 election. The success of the iVote system will be keenly watched by those with an interest in electronic voting. Read more...

Voting online? Don’t count on it

In the 2013 Federal Election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) lost 1,370 ballot papers. Subsequent inquiries examined the selection of polling locations, the transport and storage of completed ballot papers, and the recruitment and training of temporary staff in short timeframes. The logistics are challenging, but are they necessary? We already do our banking and shopping online – why not voting? Read more...

Still room for improvement at the Australian Electoral Commission

The Federal Election of 7 September 2013 was notable in a number of respects, not least because the loss by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of 1,370 ballot papers resulted in a new election for WA Senators being held on 5 April 2014. In the wake of the loss of ballot papers, the Auditor-General, Ian McPhee, committed to conducting three performance audits of the AEC, the first of which was tabled in May 2014. The second follow-up audit was tabled on 5 November 2014, with a finding that the AEC had not adequately addressed the recommendations of an audit in 2009–10.  Read more...

Some insights into political (dis)-engagement

As Australian voters wrestle with their choice of parties and candidates in the 2013 Federal election campaign, the UK’s Hansard Society has released its annual audit of political engagement in Britain. Unlike Australia, voting in Britain is not compulsory.Turnout at recent UK general elections was: at the 1 May 1997 general election: 71.4%  at the 7 June 2001 general election: 59.54%at the 5 May 2005 general election: 61.4%at the 6 May 2010 general election: 65.1%The date of the next general election in the UK is set at 7 May 2015 after the Fixed Term Parliament Act was passed on 15 September 2011.The 2013 UK Hansard Society Audit shows that the British public are so disillusioned about, di... Read more...

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