The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia wishes to object to the naming of one of South Australia’s electorates as ‘Spence.’
The Committee has indicated it is proposed to:
“change the name of the Division of Wakefield to ‘Spence’ in honour of Catherine Helen Spence (1825–1910) for her work as an advocate for female suffrage and electoral reform.”
Miss Spence was one of the first advocates for proportional representation in Australia (and indeed the world) and this became her main focus. She supported the quota-preferential method of proportional representation for all elections (called Hare-Spence in her day).
As proportional representation requires multi-member electorates, to name a single-member electorate after Miss Spence is an insult to both her memory and her life-long cause.
The Society recommended that the Adelaide Hills Council not be divided into wards and that all elected members of Council be elected across the whole Council area.
The Electoral Reform Society of South Australia was pleased with the recent changes to the method of electing the Senate, particularly getting rid of voting tickets and allowing some degree of optional preferential voting.
There are still aspects that the Society would like to see changed, including:
- removing the line on the Senate ballot paper
- with the introduction of optional preferential voting there need to be changes to accommodate the resultant increase in exhausted votes.
- introducing the Robson rotation.
With this Bill proposing an independent Commission, this is an ideal opportunity to expand the role to also undertake the periodical representation review process.
The Electoral Reform Society remains impressed by the amount of effort the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission continues to make in an attempt to comply with the relevant legislation for electoral redistribution in this State, particularly in relation to the “electoral fairness criteria”, which this Society argues is an impossible task.
Under Section 83 of SA’s Constitution Act 1934, the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission is charged with attempting to ensure that a party with over 50% of the two-party preferred vote wins a majority of seats. However at the 2014 State Election, the Liberal Party won 53% of the two-party preferred vote but did not win government. This again proved that while there are single-member electorates the Boundaries Commission has an impossible task, which the Electoral Reform Society has always argued, even at the 1991 referendum to change the State’s Constitution.
The Government has now ignored the Joint Standing Committee, and hastily introduced the ill-conceived Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016. In essence this Bill allows for partial optional preferential voting above the line but continues virtually full preferential voting below the line. This means that if voters vote above the line, they have to accept the order within not only their party or group of choice, but also for at least five other groups. This means they would continue to find their votes controlled by the political parties and have no say in who they wanted within these parties and groups. Voters will still not be any better off.