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Queensland government backflips on compulsory preferences for councils

October 16, 2019 - 10:00 -- Admin

The Queensland government has dropped the key piece of its council reform package, by abandoning plans to change the council voting system, a change that would have likely boosted Labor’s chances of taking control of the City of Brisbane.

The original package included a variety of other minor reforms, but included two changes to the voting system: introducing proportional representation for multi-member electorates, and requiring full preferencing for all council elections.

Compulsory preferential voting was a particular problem for proportional representation elections, and the government eventually dropped the plan for any PR from their legislation so that further “consultation” could take place.

The government was still pursuing plans for compulsory preferential voting for single-member wards, which would have likely produced a significant benefit for Labor in Brisbane City Council, where the only significant minor party is the Greens. I estimated that the change in voting system would reduce the LNP’s margin for the council by about 2%.

The Queensland government announced yesterday that they would drop their plans to shift to compulsory preferential voting after strong opposition from the Local Government Association.

While people will often judge voting system reforms based on whether it will help their side of politics, I’m very comfortable in saying that it’s a good thing that voters in Queensland election won’t be required to number more preferences than they want under threat of their vote being completely invalidated. So this is a good result.