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Electoral Reform must address Territory representation

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) has today tabled an interim report and recommendations from its inquiry into the 2022 federal election.

The committee makes 15 recommendations for reform, with the independent member for Curtin, Kate Chaney MP, submitting additional comments containing a further nine recommendations.

ACT Independent Senator, David Pocock, also a participating member of the committee built on his submission to the inquiry by submitting his own additional comments with a further six recommendations to the report. These additional comments support most of the recommendations made by the committee and Ms Chaney 

Senator Pocock said the reforms recommended by the committee and in both he and Ms Chaney MP’s additional comments were well overdue.

“Our community made it clear at the election that it wants to see more integrity and better accountability in politics,” Senator Pocock said.

“I welcome the JSCEM report and the recommendations for political reform it makes, but am disappointed it did not address the significant under-representation of the territories in the senate.

“Donations reform, transparency requirements and truth in political advertising are changes we need to see implemented ahead of the next election but reform to territory representation is also urgent.

“Most people don’t realise that the ACT and NT have fewer Senators on shorter terms than the state. Where the states each have 12 senators on six-year terms, the territories only have two senators on three-year terms.

“Arguing for more politicians is always a hard sell but this is a question of fairness and strengthening our democracy.

“Territories should not have to continually fight to ensure that they are fairly represented in the Federal Parliament.”

Senator Pocock’s submission calls for an increase in the baseline level of representation for the ACT and NT in the Senate to as close to half the representation of States as possible. 

Given the current number of Senators in each State, this would see the ACT and the NT each have 6 Senators. It also calls for terms to be increased to six years and commence on 1 July following the election in line with the states.

The call for increased territory representation was echoed in a number of other submissions to the inquiry and Senator Pocock thanked Professor Kim Rubenstein for her important work in this area.

“There is a strong evidence base for increasing Territory representation which in the Senate hasn’t changed for over half a century,” Senator Pocock said.

“Canberra is the fastest growing capital city with our population growth far outstripping ABS estimates. That growth is set to continue over the next four decades growing from 453,5581 people at the last census in June 2021 to 784,043 persons in June 2060.

“We need to take this opportunity to revisit territory representation and I welcome recent comments from the Special Minister of State that increasing the number of Territory senators remains a live option.”


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