News National Vote changes passed after 40 hours

Vote changes passed after 40 hours

nick xenophon
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After a marathon debate, the upper house has finally passed the most significant changes to the Australian voting system in three decades.

Senators hurled insults at each other as the debate continued through Thursday night and well into Friday in federal parliament.

The bill passed just before 2pm on Friday – after almost 40 hours of frustration from both sides – and will come into force for any election held after July 1.

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The changes is likely to prevent minor parties with a very small number of votes from winning a seat in the Senate.

Penny Wong
Labor Sen. Penny Wong called the Green and Coalition alliance a “dirty deal”. Photo: AAP

Rather than placing a ‘1’ above the line on Senate ballot papers or numbering every box below the line, the proposal would see voters given the chance to number 1 to 6 above the line in order of their preferences.

Labor Senator Penny Wong described the Greens and the Government’s agreement a “dirty deal” to purge the senate of minor parties, while Liberal Democratic Party (a minor party) Senator David Leyonhjelm described it as an “unholy alliance”.

The government has accused senators of trying to derail due process in order to save their jobs, which will now be on the line.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon also voted with the government, after being asked to change out of his pyjamas in the early hours of Friday morning.

Speaking to ABC News 24 this morning, Labor Senator Stephen Conroy said things had got “a little colourful” in the senate overnight.

“The Greens have sold out their principles so they can get 12 green bums on red leather,” said Sen. Conroy, referring to the Greens’ deal with the coalition to bring about the changes.

Nick Xenophon
It’s been a long (but comfortable) night for Senator Nick Xenophon. Photo: Twitter

Labor senator Deb O’Neill had vowed the Federal Opposition would not give up the fight against the changes.

“That is exactly what this Government would like us to do, just for us to go home, just to let this filthy deal go through without the scrutiny it deserves,” she said.

The Opposition claims the measures will make it easier for the Coalition to gain the balance of power in the Senate, while the Government and the Greens say it will give voters greater power over their preferences.

“Understand that what’s been happening here is that the major parties get 75 per cent of the vote, but they want 100 per cent of the seats,” Sen. Leyonhjelm said after the bill passed.

The House of Representatives will sit on Friday to rubber-stamp the bill.

Watch the video below for a 40-second explainer on the changes:

-With ABC

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