Podcast #42: all about redistributions


Ben is joined by William Bowe from the Poll Bludger and new guest Michael Maley, formerly of the Australian Electoral Commission, to talk all about redistributions: how they work now, how they used to work and how they have changed over time.

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  1. With the “fairness” doctrines that existed in South Australia and had been proposed elsewhere was proportional representation ever floated? An MMP type system would would have ensured that a party without a majority of the primary vote would rarely have a majority.

  2. MMP would be much more efficient at what the “fairness” clause was attempting. However, given there would be some votes for micro parties, a primary vote a bit short of 50% would win a majority. A preferential MMP system would also be a possibility.

  3. Preferential MMP is pretty straightforward to achieve other than perhaps in the Federal context, which has those “directly elected” hurdles for prop-rep.

    It’s doable with a single preferential district ballot (full or optional). Just take the party vote to be for the best-preferenced party. The top-up seats for each party are awarded to the best near-winners first; from the list only once every district candidate has been elected.

    The usual MMP hack of running allied district and list teams is limited to bigger parties running aligned independents – but they still need to run their own district candidates too, to collect prefs. It’s messy enough that I think it would see limited use.

  4. Preferential MMP is certainly possible. Either strict 2PP MMP or with criteria to get middle sized parties like the Greens in (which may be what it needs to get through the Legislative Council).

  5. That sounds kinda like the system in the ACT after self-government, which worked so well they ditched it after two elections.

  6. The ACT system was pretty much stock standard proportional representation like you’d find in many Western European countries.

    MMP features both single-member districts and a high level of proportionality.

  7. I’ve written about the fairness clause in the past (indeed there’s a ‘fairness clause’ tag on the blog that I should add this post to), and we discussed the clause on the podcast in December with Peter Brent and Stewart Jackson.

    I guess you could theoretically give an MMP-style top-up to the side that won the 2PP but ultimately it makes the same error as the original clause in assuming ‘fairness’ should be judged simply on a two-party contest. Basically the Liberals would like a system which ensures they are treated fairly in relation to Labor while locking out every other party.

    The solution if you want a fair voting system is PR. If you want a system which tends to produce majority governments you need to give up on fairness.

  8. Alex, I think modified D’Hondt started out as stock standard list PR, and maybe that’s how parts of it worked, but there was also a bunch of complex preferential elements that the Democrats added to the bill which made it very complex. I wouldn’t say I understand it properly.

  9. “The solution if you want a fair voting system is PR”

    Say it louder for the people at the back Ben! As a QLDer in particular I dream of one day having a PR house up here but imo it would be best if one day all our houses of government are PR so that the narratives about politics are not so 2 party focused.

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