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Senate crossbench

By David Leyonhjelm - posted Monday, 11 June 2018


Senators Hanson and Bernardi, plus the two remaining Xenophon team senators and three of the nine Greens senators aren’t even facing election.   So there will at least be seven crossbenchers.

And with 32 percent of voters in 2013 and 35 per cent of voters in 2016 voting for parties other than Labor or the Coalition, even a collapse in the minor party vote will see more senators joining the crossbench.  We will probably see at least one new crossbencher elected in each state, creating a total crossbench, including the Greens, of at least 13.  Moreover, neither a Coalition government, nor a Labor/Greens government, will command a majority.

The question is, what sort of crossbench will we get?

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That will depend a lot on the priorities of the media and major parties.  Despite the last election being painfully long and a double dissolution caused by Senate obstruction, there was next to no coverage of how voting would shape the Senate.  The major parties gave it little consideration and the media focused on Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull.  Even I got bored and turned to Masterchef, and I was up for election myself. 

This ought to change.  Voters need to be informed of the principles, if any, of the parties vying for the Senate.  I oppose most of the Greens’ positions, but at least I know where they stand.  What of the others? 

If voters are to elect a principled Senate crossbench rather than a bunch of swingers, they deserve to be told about the choices before them.

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This article was first published in the Australian Financial Review.



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David Leyonhjelm is the Liberal Democrat Senator for NSW.

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