Know your voting system …

“These changes are likely to lead to new entrants to the Victorian political landscape, with the most likely addition, judging by the 2002 State election, to be the Greens. “

Brian Costar.

The old style Upper House had 22 seats, each one electing one pollie every other election for a double term. It was heavily weighted to conservative representation and acted as a rubber stamp. Now we have the state divided into just eight zones but with five pollies to be chosen by voters from each zone – that means 40 pollies in the Upper House in future. Regional Vic contains three of the eight zones – Eastern, Northern and Western Victoria.

If one candidate gets a “quota” of 16.7% of the vote, she/he wins a seat in Parliament. If they get more votes – say 21.7% – then that leftover sum of 5% is allocated according to preferences using a complicated lot of maths and a team of dedicated propeller-heads with shiny computers. All the preferences of the winning candidate’s votes are considered, not just the 5% spare.

It’s now like our Federal Senate election system that makes it more likely to get minor parties in.

With this new system, it will mean smaller parties like the Greens have a very good chance of getting in on others’ preferences if they don’t quite score 16.7% outright. Often one percent can be extremely important.

This system is called multi member proportional representation. Some Local Government elections will also be using this much fairer system in the 26th November elections this year (which means I won’t be standing this time as I could get in! I have bigger issues to work on than rubbish bins and cracked footpaths – Jill).

September 2005