With Parliament resuming the week after next, there’s an increasing
buzz among pol wonks about what we can expect to see from
the government on electoral reform.

The evidence of Emeritus Professor Colin Hughes to the Brisbane
hearings of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters earlier
this month has now gone up on the Parliament House website, and everyone agrees the Prof is both a scholar and gentleman.

He’s recommended a switch to optional preferential ballots as a way of
both improving the democratic process and lowering the informal vote.
He also opposed an early close of the roles and backed a referendum for
fixed
four-year terms for the House of Representatives.

Hughes was the first federal electoral commissioner – he’s generally
regarded as the best – and been playing with electoral stats since
slide rules were the go. Not only does he know the numbers, but he’s
even been able to persuade pols to put the national interest ahead of
their own.

He’s well into his eighties now, but it will be interesting to see if
this still stands in the bold new world of government control of the
Senate and the House of Representatives.

Peter Fray

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