Senate terms decided by the major parties

To suit themselves, largely. Pauline Hanson, Nick Xenophon and his mate Stirling Griff, plus Jacqui Lambie will get six-year terms. The rest of the crossbench will have to front up again next election.

The Greens, who had argued for a ‘fairer’ method, lose out. Only Richard Di Natale, Scott Ludlam and Peter Whish-Wilson get 6-year terms.

Scroll down this ABC link to check the names of all the 3-year and 6-year senators.That leaves the 3-year numbers at 16 LNP, 13 Labor, 3 Greens and 4 Others. Territories, which have two senators each are not included, because Territory senators’ terms commence on the date of their election and end on the day of the next election.

Kevin Bonham goes into the issue at some length. In short there are three facts we have to work around.

Firstly, the Constitution provides that the Senate itself must decide who gets six years in the case of a double dissolution.

Secondly, traditionally senators’ terms of office have been allocated according to the order in which senators were elected in each state during the double dissolution, which, of course only requires a half quota. The LNP and Labor have decided to use this method for the 2016 election.

Thirdly, the Hawke government created a reform known as Section 282 which requires a recount of the votes using the full quotas used in the a half-senate election. Such a recount is specified in the Electoral Act, so it will be done, but the results will be academic.

For the full gruesome detail of how the recount is done and why it’s different from an actual half-senate election, see Antony Green.

Most fair-minded people think Section 282 is a better way, as it replicates they way quotas would be filled and preferences would flow in a half-senate election.

To ensure this happens we should have a referendum and change the Constitution, but the chances of that happening are close to zero. No-one has kicked up enough fuss about it.

Derryn Hinch wants each party elected in each state to have at least one representative. That would suit him best, but it would not be more democratic.

3 thoughts on “Senate terms decided by the major parties”

  1. The senate would be more democratic if the term of all senators was the same as that of the territory senators.

    Territory senators’ terms commence on the date of their election and end on the day of the next election.

    Reasons include:
    1. The increased chance for small groups to be represented because of the smaller quota.
    2. Avoids the current situation where it may take months for a newly elected senator because the terms are 6 years, not two terms of the house of reps.
    3. Means that we will no longer have senators elected 6 years ago.

  2. John, you are no doubt right, but to change would mean a referendum to change the Constitution, and you know how hard that is!

  3. My problems with the Senate still lay with Parties still own the position.
    ” Encourage ” a sitting Senator to retire for ” family reasons ” or ” health reasons” and parachute in a person that never even faced the voters, like Bob Carr.

    I still favour Sortition for the House of Review for many reasons, this being just one.

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