Saturday, October 16, 2004

Preference call compromises Greens' Tasmania bid: "A decision by Labor and the Democrats to direct preferences to Family First party could cost the Greens a Senate seat in Tasmania, the Greens leader, Bob Brown, said yesterday.

"He said the Greens' candidate in Tasmania, Christine Milne, had gone from a primary vote of 13.4 per cent on election night to 12.7 per cent. She needs a quota of 14.3 per cent to get over the line. By comparison, just over 2 per cent of Tasmanians had given their first vote to Family First. 'On all past form, Christine would be home and hosed with Labor and Democrat preferences. But this time both parties directed preferences to Family First ahead of the Greens,' Senator Brown said. 'They fell prey to a nationally orchestrated pro-Howard blitzkrieg to divert preferences from the Greens and get them across to Family First. This was to assure government control of the Senate.'"

Such a result - which would surely not reflect the views of Labor and Democrat voters - is also a product of the Senate 'above the line' voting system, which grants to the parties the right to direct preferences. 'Above the line' voting should be abolished, or at the very least the voter empowered to number the party boxes. 'Below the line' voting should be made optional-preferential.

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