Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath

April 21, 2016

State Parliament passed legislation on Thursday night to increase the size of Parliament by four seats, and reintroduce compulsory preferential voting for Queensland elections.

The new law means voters will now have to number all boxes on a ballot paper rather than “just vote 1” in order to have their vote counted.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said while the government had opposed an increase in the number of politicians moved by the LNP, it had moved to reintroduce full preferential voting as required in every Federal election.

The government did this by moving an amendment to an LNP bill to increase the number of electorates from 89 to 93, which had been passed earlier in the evening with the support of crossbenchers, 45 votes to 43.

By moving to reintroduce compulsory preferential voting as an amendment, the government did not have to send its proposal to a committee for review or open the matter up to consultation.

So when the amendment was passed it automatically became part of the LNP legislation, which had already been passed.

The LNP opposed the amendment because it will tend to advantage Labor, who receive about three-quarters of Greens’ preferences.

Election analysts believe the ALP would have won nine more seats at the last State election if compulsory preferential voting was in place.

“Full preferential voting allows voters to indicate their preference for all candidates listed on the ballot paper for a Queensland State election by consecutively numbering the ballot paper in order of preference,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“No longer will Queenslanders elect their Federal and State MPs via different methods.

“The votes of all Queenslanders will be counted in the election of the Member of Parliament to represent them.”

Mrs D’Ath said the process to undertake a required redistribution of Queensland’s electoral boundaries – the first since 2008 – will now proceed for 93 electorates.

Optional preferential voting was introduced in Queensland in 1992 by Wayne Goss’s Labor government, and would remain in force for local government elections.

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Shadow Attorney-General
Ian Walker

Later on Thursday night the LNP blasted the State Government, saying it had pushed through radical changes to Queensland’s voting system without consulting a single Queenslander, rorting the Parliamentary system and trashing the Fitzgerald reforms in the process.

“Sneaking significant voting changes through the Parliament with only 18 minutes notice flies in the face of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s promise to lead a government of consultation and consensus,” Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker said.

“What we have seen in the Parliament was a trashing of Tony Fitzgerald’s landmark integrity reforms by removing voters’ choice at the ballot box.

“A key part of the Fitzgerald reforms that transformed Queensland was the implementation of optional preferential voting, which gives voters a choice if they want to preference and how many preferences they want to give.

“Queenslanders will no longer be able to just vote 1 for the candidate of their choice if they wish.”

Mr Walker said the government had robbed Queenslanders of this right in a piece of political trickery at the end of a Parliamentary sitting week.

“These changes were forced through by Premier Palaszczuk with zero consultation,” he said.

“Queenslanders deserve to have their say on a major shift in how democracy is conducted in this state.

“It is indeed a sad day when a government springs this on the Parliament without warning, giving the Opposition only 18 minutes to scrutinise the changes and stand up for voters’ rights.

“The LNP will continue to fight to ensure voters are empowered at the ballot box.”