Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Speech in Parliament - Electoral Matters Update - 27 March 2014

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (10:14): I seek leave of the House to make a short statement as chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters on the committee's inquiry into the 2013 federal election and to present a copy of that statement.

Leave granted.

Mr TONY SMITH: In February I informed the House on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters that it was the committee's intention to report early—ahead of its full report—on the specific issues relating to the voting system used to elect senators. It is my intention to table out of session a report prior to the resumption of the 2014 budget sittings. The committee has conducted a number of public hearings and still has some more evidence to hear in coming weeks. Suggestions for reform have included changes to the Senate voting system as well as broader changes to party registration. Many of these issues have received widespread coverage since the September 2013 federal election.

One issue that has come to greater public prominence since the election, particularly in recent days, is the fact that there are currently no requirements under the electoral act for candidates to be a resident of the state for which they are seeking election. For example, at the last federal election, Sex Party candidate Robbie Swan, a resident of the ACT, narrowly missed election for the Senate in Tasmania. Some reports state that in the Western Australian Senate election now being conducted 10 of the 77 candidates live in other states. Given that the Senate is a state's House, it is not surprising that most people would find this situation bizarre. The absence of a requirement to live in the state for which you are seeking to become a senator has not been an issue of note in the past, because political parties have had no difficulty finding members within each state to nominate and genuine independents have wanted to seek election in the state in which they live.

While the committee has more work to do on a range of related matters before it is in a position to report back to the House, I do confirm that this matter will be dealt with in our early report on Senate voting. On this matter, as with some other features of our electoral system, status quo is not an option. I present a copy of my statement to the House.

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