THE Hodgman government has ruled out changing or even reviewing the state’s electoral system, despite a motion from the Liberal Party calling on an investigation into a transition away from multi-member electorates in the lower house.
The Liberal Party State Council yesterday emphatically endorsed a motion calling on the government to examine a process for replacing the Hare-Clark system in the House of Assembly.
The motion – and a number of members – said the electoral system had been manipulated by minor parties and was not well understood by voters.
Former party president Richard Chugg said majority government had given the Liberals a rare opportunity to change the electoral system.
“Hare-Clark may have served this state reasonably well in a bygone era, but it is playing a large part in the untold damage to the state by denying governments of the day the opportunities to properly govern, ” he said.
“This voting system must be changed.”
During the debate, House Speaker Elise Archer said an investigation would be a sensible approach, as the Hare-Clark system was difficult even for candidates.
“Every time I run in [an election], I find something out about it that I didn’t know the last time I ran,” she said.
But shortly after the motion passed, a government spokeswoman ruled out any investigation or change to Hare-Clark.
“The Liberal Party welcomes debate and is always keen to hear the views of the party’s grassroots,” she said.
“However, we won’t be reviewing or changing the Hare Clark System.”
Greens Braddon MHR Kim Booth said the motion was profoundly undemocratic.
“Let’s be very clear here, this is about the Liberals gerrymandering a system that will lock them into power permanently,” he said.
“The Liberals are skating on very thin ice when they seek to dismantle the electoral system which trusted them with a majority in the first place.”
Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O’Byrne said Hare-Clark was serving Tasmania well.
“There may be a point when the Tasmanian population is large enough that you would move to single-member electorates – I don’t think we’re there yet,” she said.
“Certainly we shouldn’t be changing an electoral system because it suits political parties.”