Text of my speech to the Australasian Study of Parliament Group, Qld Chapter – 15 April 2013

April 16, 2013

This is the text of my speech to the Australasian Study of Parliament Group, Queensland Chapter, in the  Queensland Parliament House on 15 April 2013. I’m publishing the text for anyone who may be interested in reading it.


Tweedledee, Tweedledum – Not all electoral systems are created equal

Sacha Blumen

Speech to the Australasian Study of Parliament Group, Queensland Chapter, 15 April 2013

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the Jagera and Turrbal people, and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and future.

Electoral reform is in the air in Queensland. The Department of Justice and Attorney General published a discussion paper on the topic in January this year which has engendered much discussion.

Electoral reform has been a topic of interest for many Queenslanders and Australians over the last few decades. Across the country, there have been moves towards one-vote one-value voting systems (most recently in WA), regular redistributions, party registration and placement on ballot papers, and increasing the number of ways in which people can cast their vote (e.g. introduction of electronic voting in the last NSW election).

There have also been reforms to make it easier for people to enrol and for automatic enrolment in NSW elections, in addition to electoral funding and disclosure reforms. In my state of NSW, the Government recently gave redistribution commissioners more flexibility in drawing boundaries, which they may use in the current State redistribution.

In short, experience tells us that electoral reform is never a done and dusted business. And nor should it be – we should always learn from experience, and electoral systems should change in line with societal attitudes. In 1905, laws were changed to enfranchise women in Queensland elections and in 1974 the voting age was dropped from 21 to 18. Some people are now proposing the voting age be dropped to 16.

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Talk – 5:30pm, Mon 15 April 2013 – Tweedledee, Tweedledum: all electoral systems were not created equal – Australasian Study of Parliament Group, Qld Chapter

April 1, 2013

The Australasian Study of Parliament Group, Queensland Chapter, presents:

Tweedledee, Tweedledum: all electoral systems were not created equal  presentation by Dr Sacha Blumen
Monday April 15  – 5.30pm for 5.45pm 
Legislative Council (Red) Chamber, Parliament House, Brisbane
Parking available and refreshments to follow
RSVP:  Friday April 12  ASPG-Q@parliament.qld.gov.au
Dear ASPG member / friend

Please join us for this timely event as the Queensland Government considers public feedback on the proposals in the Electoral Reform Green Paper (developed and released as part of its first 6 Month Action Plan).
Take this opportunity to hear Dr Sacha Blumen share his rare insights into the likely electoral outcomes and broader implications of adopting different electoral systems (such as proportional representation and Hare Clark) and electoral rules (such as voluntary voting).  How would the results change if we changed electoral systems in Queensland?
Dr Blumen conducted a mathematical analysis some years ago using Queensland electoral data to determine the hypothetical outcomes had different electoral systems been used.  His interest in the topic was sparked by an awareness of the long-standing gerrymanders in Queensland, particularly the National Party gerrymander extant in his youth.  He has a PhD in Pure Mathematics, first class honours in Political Science (and an A.Mus.A), and is closely involved with politics in Sydney, where he now lives.  Sacha is a senior consultant with the Allen Consultant Group, co-convenor of the Police Powers and Civil Rights sub-committee of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, and was President of the Kings Cross residents group 2007-09.  He was the ALP candidate for the seat of Sydney in the 2011 NSW State election and an ALP candidate for Councillor in the 2008 City of Sydney elections.
Save the date now and rsvp asap as indicated above.
For further enquiries, please email as above or phone Ms Robyn Moore (Secretary) on 3406 7309 or Ms Nonie Malone (Chair) on 0412 023 209.
We hope to see you there.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the ASPG, it is a non-partisan body with a Charter to bring together parliamentarians, academics, members of the media, parliamentary staff and other interested persons to foster research, debate and discussion to further understanding of our Westminster system of parliamentary democracy.  All are welcome.
Kind regards
Nonie Malone
Chair – Australasian Study of Parliament Group, Queensland