After each federal election, a parliamentary committee reviews the conduct of the election and calls for public submissions into how elections could be improved. We're serious about accountable government and participatory democracy.
This is Fusion's first submission to a parliamentary inquiry! If you would like to be involved with the next one, please email [email protected].
Our submission is expected to appear on the parliament house website soon. The parliamentary committee will publish their report(s) there too.
We made the recommendations below with the aims of improving voter engagement and democratic representation in Australian federal elections. Democracies achieve their social licence because people consider themselves to be represented. In recent years, support for the two major parties has steadily decreased. Should this trend continue, the Australian electoral system will need to adapt, or else produce increasingly absurd results.
- Donations above a threshold of $1000 must be disclosed within seven days of receipt. Cumulative donations from the same source within the same year must be disclosed once the total exceeds $1000, with updated disclosure at each subsequent multiple of $1000. This total applies across all branches and endorsed candidates of a party.
- Remove the 4% threshold for public funding and disburse public funding for every vote.
"Truth in political advertising" laws
- Legislate that electoral material must not make unsubstantiated claims about another candidate or party.
Increased participation and enfranchisement
- With the aim of improving voter engagement with party material and reducing voter anxiety, polling places should provide a table inside the building door for electoral material. This table is to be supervised by AEC staff and unstaffed by campaigners, allowing voters to collect material at their leisure.
- Create a specific AEC programme for continuous improvement of overseas voting logistics, including the investigation of all claims of an overseas voter's ballot being lost or not delivered in time.
- New Zealand citizens should be allowed to vote in all Australian elections after three years of residency in Australia.
- Adopt a "Tasmania Rule" and expand Parliament such that each original state has at least 4.5 population quotas for the House of Representatives.
(On current figures, this would imply expanding the House to 223 members total and the Senate to 18 Senators per state.)
- Retain the current rules governing Territory entitlements: the harmonic-mean rounding rules, the minimum of two Senators each, and the entitlement to a Senator for every two MPs.
- Reform candidate nominations to be more nominator-signatures oriented, and reduce party registration requirements.
- Abolish nomination deposits and instead require candidate nominations to be supported with nominator signatures. This could be 100 as it is today for independents, or (for Senate nominations only) some other amount scaled by state/territory population.
- Permit registered parties to pre-qualify for nominating one or more candidates in a particular contest by submitting the relevant number of signatures (valid for a year).
- Reduce party registration membership requirements back to 500 members.
- Require parliamentary parties to meet the party registration membership requirement.
Savings Provisions and Optional Preferential Voting
- Align House of Representatives formality rules with Senate below-the-line rules: count all ballots with a clear preference sequence of at least six candidates (or a full preference sequence in the case of five or fewer candidates). Continue to disallow advocating that a voter complete less than a full preference sequence on House of Representatives ballots.
- Trial the use of electronically-assisted voting machines as an alternative to assisted voting and in areas with high informality rates. The machines should not enforce a formal vote but merely warn of informality.
Fusion is staffed entirely by volunteers. If you want to see ethical government in politics and a better future for all please consider a tax deductible donation today.