It seems that changes to how Senators are elected is about to pass parliament, which in turn may or may not lead to an early election.
It is difficult to know exactly how this will affect outcomes - informed voters will likely adjust their votes so that their intentions are most accurately reflected by the voting systems, political parties will change their approach to get the most out of the system, a micro-party revolt might affect voting in the House of Reps, and then there are simply the unknowns that will be thrown up by a system that is made more complex because it is preferential.
This is a good time to look at a few different opinions on what these changes will mean.
Antony Green's election blog is always a good source of information on the electoral process. Understanding what the changes mean can be both heavy going and confusing, but check out this post from Antony - it runs a number of scenarios based on actual election returns and shows how the changes would have changed actual election outcomes.
There is also informed opinion on what these changes might mean to governance in Australia. The Conversation website is a great source of information and considered opinion. A recent piece by John Dryzek from the University of Canberra is well worth a read. His argument is that the parliament is (or should be) a place of justification and reflection, a place where members listen to arguments and then form their own opinion on the best way forward. John suggests that with the rise of adversarial party politics, there is more justification and much less reflection. Nowhere is reflection more needed than in the house of review the Senate. And if the changes to Senate elections lead to a greater representation of the major parties, this will only worsen.
It's a good article and well worth a read. You'll find it here.
And finally, if all else fails... the only way to find real and clear understanding of the way politics works... turn to a cartoonist. First Dog on the Moon recently made a half-hearted attempt to explain the Senate changes. His thoughts are no less reasonable than all the other opinion I've read, and of course much more entertaining. You'll find it here.
by Mark Enders
The Townsville Greens will publish blogs considered to be of merit. The opinions expressed are those of the Author.