News National Senate vote challenge dumped

Senate vote challenge dumped

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The High Court has thrown out a challenge to a new senate voting law targeting preference deals which helped micro parties and independents win senate seats.

The new law changes the rules for voting above and below the line.

Family First Senator Bob Day had challenged the law saying they were unconstitutional and would disenfranchise up to 25 per cent of voters who do not want to vote for the major parties.

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But the Commonwealth told the court Senator Day had taken too narrow a view of the constitution, and the Parliament has the power to make the new law.

They also argued the new scheme gave voters more control over their preferences.

That is because instead of just voting for a preferred party above the line, often without knowing where their preferences have been directed, voters will now have to specify their choices.

Under the laws, voters number 1 to 6 above the line in order of their preferences or number individual candidates below the line.

The controversial laws were passed in with the help of senator Nick Xenophon and the Greens after a 28-hour session of Parliament in March.

Potential for voters preferences to exhaust: Day

Senator Day was joined by fellow senator David Leyonhjelm at the High Court for today’s decision.

“What the Parliament, the major parties, the Greens, and Nick Xenophon did during the last Parliament was take away voters’ rights and punish those voters who vote for minor parties by threatening to kill off their votes,” Senator Day said outside court.

He urged the public to ensure their preferences are not exhausted when voting.

“If a person only votes one, the preferences or vote could stop right there,” Senator Day said.

“It’s really important they fill in as many boxes as possible, either above the line or below the line to ensure that their vote counts.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed today’s decision.

“The High Court’s decision is entirely as expected,” he said during a press conference in Adelaide.

Today’s decision comes as Federal election campaign gets underway.


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