Electoral Reform Green Paper
Strengthening Australia’s Democracy (9-27 November)
The Electoral Reform Green Paper – Strengthening Australia’s Democracy discusses a wide range of potential changes to our electoral laws and systems, in areas including:
- the franchise (who is entitled to vote in Australia);
- voting systems for the House of Representatives and the Senate;
- arrangements for enrolling to vote and for maintaining the electoral roll;
- arrangements for the registration of political parties and nomination of candidates for election;
- campaigning for elections;
- arrangements for casting votes; and
- the counting of votes and determination of election results.
The Green Paper argues that the main challenge for governments is to preserve the key strengths and stability of Australia’s electoral systems, while striving for greater improvements to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of contemporary Australia. The paper outlines a number of possible changes that may have implications for our electoral systems, including:
- changes in methods of voting, with a greater number of postal and pre-poll votes being lodged;
- technological developments, with an increasing trend towards electronic transactions and interactions with government;
- demographic changes, with the Australian community drawn from an increasingly diverse range of places, a highly mobile Australian population, and an ageing population; and
- increased opportunities for harmonisation between the Commonwealth, states and territories.
The Green Paper also examines a number of options that could achieve increased participation in elections. More than 2.3 million Australians who were entitled to vote for the 2007 federal election did not fully exercise their right to vote, either by failing to enrol to vote, failing to cast a vote, or casting a vote that was informal and therefore not counted. Strategies for maximising participation in elections could include:
- improving enrolment processes;
- improving civic education;
- amending and harmonising rules for voting, or for accepting votes as formal; and
- improving and harmonising the accessibility of voting services.
In light of these issues, the Government is interested in your views on what changes should be made to our electoral laws and processes. In addition to this online discussion forum, written submissions have been invited by 27 November 2009. A list of specific issues for discussion and comment is set out in Chapter 15 - (PDF 71KB) of the Green Paper. Some starting questions that you might wish to consider are:
Which area, or areas, of our electoral laws should be the highest priority for reform?
What strategies do you think should be adopted to improve electoral participation rates?
Which area, or areas, should be a priority for harmonisation between the Commonwealth, states and territories?