On preferential voting changes

Malcolm Mackerras writes: Re. “Pauline Hanson’s mystery preferential voting changes” (Monday)

I refer to your item in Crikey today headed “Pauline Hanson’s mystery preferential voting changes”. You ask her to explain certain things she said in her recent Insiders interview with Barrie Cassidy. Since I am sure she will not take up your offer, this is what I think she means. The truth is that she tells a lie every time she says those things but, unfortunately, there is a one per cent grain of truth in what she repeatedly says on this subject.

Back in 1996 I published a book titled “The Mackerras 1996 Federal Election Guide.” I wrote, under the heading “Exhausted Votes”:

“Following amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act proclaimed in 1984, the December 1984 general election became the first for the House of Representatives at which it was possible for votes to become exhausted in the course of a distribution of preferences. This is the result of new criteria for the formality of ballot papers.”

“A House of Representatives ballot paper is now formal so long as it shows a unique first preference vote for a candidate and numbers, any numbers, against all the other candidates or all the other candidates but one, with the square next to that candidate left blank. Consequently, ballot papers may be admitted to the scrutiny even when they do not exhibit fully correct numbering, and therefore fail to indicate preferences for all candidates. When, on a transfer of ballot papers from an excluded candidate, it is found that a ballot paper shows no preference for any continuing candidate, it is set aside as exhausted.”

The full preferential vote has operated for House of Representatives elections continuously since December 1918. However, at the 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993 and 1996 elections there were “exhausted votes”, those being a characteristic of optional preferential voting. Just one per cent of all votes at those elections combined were set aside as exhausted. That fact would be the basis of Hanson’s claim.

The claim is, in spirit, a lie but it is not quite as outlandish as it sounds. 

On Hanson in WA

Barry Welch writes: Re. “Inside the One Nation campaign on the ground in WA” (Tuesday)

So Hanson is going to release her own beer brand. As a veteran home brewer I am well aware of the saying ” Home brew is like flatulence. Your own is ok but you can’t stand anyone else’s.”.
I certainly won’t be going within cooee of Hanson’s brew and I won’t be getting within a whiff of Pauline’s  putrid politics and Putin puppy love.

Peter Fray

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