Minister for Resources Matt Canavan at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, February 14, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Minister for Resources Matt Canavan at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, February 14, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING MICK TSIKAS

Canavan on the importance of Senate voting

SENATE voting is a daunting task for many, especially when the 2019 Queensland Senate ballot paper contains 83 candidates and measures about half a metre.

However the Senate paper is 40 per cent smaller that 2016's which boasted a record 112 candidates.

The fact is, the Senate is just as important as the Lower House when it comes to the mechanics of Australian governance.

According to Minister for Northern Australia and Resources, Senator Matt Canavan, a trend called "leakage” has emerged, which suggests many voters may be misusing their Senate vote.

Leakage is a term used in political circles, and occurs when someone votes for their chosen representative in their electorate, and then votes completely different on their Senate ballot paper.

Senator Canavan said the 2016 election saw an almost 40 per cent rate leakage for people who voted LNP in the lower house.

He likened the Senate ballot paper to "a shopping list”, and said people tend to "go shopping” with their senate vote, which was one of the possible explanations for the leakage trend.

He said the proliferation and ability of minor parties to perform well in the Senate was an example of shopping, which possibly resulted in leakage.

Senator Canavan said "the influence of the minor parties in the Senate has been a retrograde step” which leads to increased grandstanding.

He feared the role of the Senate as a mechanism to "duly and calmly assess issues” was becoming lost as the influence of minor parties increased.

Senator Canavan also pointed out the often niche and localised agendas of minor parties did not align with the national duty required from a Senator and led to an over representation of political fringes.

"It takes a lower vote to be elected to the Senate and then they use that power to leverage,” he said.

"For a minor party to be elected to the Senate, they often have to be controversial, which lends itself to more grandstanding.”



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