Proportional Representation Society of Australia

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The four failed attempts to establish party list systems
for the legislatures of Australia's States and Territories


The requirements in Sections 7 and 24 of the Australian Constitution, and in the Western Australian Constitution - that MPs shall be directly chosen by the people" - have fortunately protected voters for those parliaments from party list systems, but the other five States still lack that protection.


1915 TAS

A Parliamentary Committee rejected an ALP proposal to replace Tasmania’s Hare-Clark quota-preferential PR system with a Party List system. See “Quota-preferential PR versus Party List.” The Secretary of what is now the Electoral Reform Society in the British Isles made the long sea voyage to Tasmania from England - during the First World War - to give persuasive evidence on why a Party List system should not be substituted for Hare-Clark.


1973 SA

The Dunstan ALP Government’s Constitution and Electoral Acts Amendment Act 1973 introduced, for elections to South Australia’s Legislative Council, a Party List system that provided for transferable votes between party groups, but pleasingly a subsequent Liberal Government replaced it with a quota-preferential PR system in 1981, with Australian Democrats’ support in the Legislative Council.


1978 NSW

The Wran ALP Government’s first bill for popular elections for the New South Wales Legislative Council proposed a Party List system, but the Opposition Leader, Sir Eric Willis, said the referendum needed would be opposed by the Opposition parties unless a quota-preferential PR system was substituted for it, so fortunately that change was made, and the referendum was carried. The PRSA(NSW) also pressed for quota-preferential PR and not a Party List, as Hansard records.


1989 ACT

The Hawke ALP Federal Government introduced a “Modified d’Hondt” Party List system for the 1989 and 1992 elections for the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory, but public dissatisfaction led to a plebiscite to choose whether its replacement should be a Hare-Clark quota-preferential PR system or a system of single-member districts. The Hare-Clark PR system was chosen by 65% of voters, and was thus introduced. A subsequent referendum in 1995 entrenched it, with 65% of voters favouring that entrenchment. The PRSA(ACT) campaigned for Hare-Clark in both those successful polls.


See also "Advances and Setbacks in Australia's Electoral Systems".