So Turnbull dropped the hammer on the senate yesterday with a set of changes to the way the senate is going to be elected. At the core of these changes will be the removal of the (and there really is no other way to describe them) anti-democratic preference deals that meant that voters lost control over where their preferences were directed if they voted above the line.
The changes have another benefit apart from returning full control over preferences to the voter. They also give all those groups that have sprung up to game the current system a good kick in the goolies.
This is a good thing.
Let me get one thing straight first up. I have no problem with the micro parties competing in elections, the more the merrier I say. It makes for a vibrant democracy when there are multiple, competing groups all representing their particular world views. Where the problem lies is that many of the micro parties that went to the last election were, in essence empty shells. Fronts setup to funnel preferences around until one of the "real" micro parties managed to scrape enough to get a place in the senate.
The new system will mean that parties won't be able to rely on dodgy deals done with preference farmers, or in fact some of the viler participants in our democratic process. Instead, they will have compete in the open for the voters preference, which means that they're going to have to do more than just rely on their tiny, tiny bases. Instead they're going to have to work their butts off to engage with the wider electorate.
As can be expected, there has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth since the announcement. Lots of declarations of the death of democracy (again) and so on and so forth. Some of the loudest complaining of all appears to be coming from the one of the biggest beneficiaries of preference farming. The ALP. As soon as Turnbull finished his press conference, the ALP was on the hustings accusing the Government of everything from causing confusion and dismay to a dastardly scheme to gerrymander the Senate so that it would permanently be in a state of Coalition control.
You know what? I am personally looking forward to my vote going exactly where I want it to go, and I am especially looking forward to making sure that my preferences don't accidentally end up propping up some of the worst of the worst this country has to offer.