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Electoral law

Jan 10, 2013

Could the Coalition steal Labor's clothes on optional preferences?

Change in electoral law is generally driven by perceived political interest, not by principle. Shifts to more democratic outcomes happen when a major party thinks that they will work to its advantage.

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I’m in Crikey again today on optional preferential voting, responding to this article by Christian Kerr in this morning’s Australian. It’s mostly about domestic politics, but I think the conclusion has wider implications:

If there’s a constant theme in the history of electoral law in Australia (and most other countries as well), it’s that change is driven by perceived political interest, not by principle. Shifts to more democratic outcomes happen when a major party thinks that they will work to its advantage – as, for example, with the introduction of PR for the Senate by the Chifley government.

It’s just possible that this might be one of those cases.

If you’re not a subscriber (but of course you should be – it’s great value!), you can get the gist of my view, with some more of the history, in this piece from 2010.

Charles Richardson — Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson has contributed to Crikey since 2002, and was a ministerial adviser in the Kennett government and a former editorial manager at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney.

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