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By SAS Group Chief Executive Peter Constantini 

After a marathon 40-hour debate, the Senate has voted this afternoon to approve the Government's legislation to change the way Senators are elected.1458269286677

Image: Andrew Meares, SMH.

The new legislation will:

  • Introduce optional preferential above-the-line voting;
  • Provide advice to the voter on the ballot paper on voting above the line by numbering at least six of the boxes in the order of the voter’s choice (with the number one as the voter’s first choice);
  • Introduce provision to ensure that a ballot is still formal in circumstance where the voter has numbered one or fewer than six boxes above the line;
  • Abolish group and individual voting tickets; and
  • Reduce voter confusion between parties with similar party names by having the ability to include logos on the ballot paper.

The decision increases the potential for a double dissolution election, though there remain many challenges.

A double D cannot be called within six months of the expiry of the current Parliament's term – ie: 11th May 2016.  The Budget is due on 10th of May and this will need to be passed to ensure money supply.  This leaves only one day, unless the Government brings forward the Budget.

Then there is the election date.  Because of the Senate election cycle, speculation has surrounded the 2nd of July as the likely date.  That would leave an election campaign of two months. The public won’t like that, and the party coffers will be drained completely to fund such a long campaign.

If the election is held prior to July, there would need to be a half Senate election in about two years, something the public (and Senators) may object to.

There's never a dull moment in politics!

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