Federal Member for Fairfax

Media release

Senator for Western Australia Zhenya ‘Dio’ Wang has called on the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team parties to publicly reveal the full details of their back-room manipulations to wipe out the Senate’s independent watchdogs.

“The Greens and Xenophon must explain to Australians why they want to silence the one-quarter of Australians who refuse to back Labor, Liberal or Greens,” said Senator Wang, who was elected after receiving more than 12 per cent of Western Australians’ first-preference votes.

“The Government uses the excuses of ‘accountability’ and ‘transparency’ for changing the way people can vote for Senators to represent their states – so where then is the transparency and accountability about the back-room deals they’ve been feverishly brokering with Xenophon and the Greens to wipe out the little guys?

“They must all come clean to the public about their self-interest motivations – obviously, the ‘born-to-rule’ Coalition would never change the voting system unless it entrenches their power, while the Greens and Xenophon seem to think they’re the only ones fit to be Senate watchdogs… or lapdogs, as they will be, after this crude system is rushed through.”

Senator Wang said claims that a Senate restructure would ‘empower’ the people and the democratic process were contemptuous of the one-in-four voters who choose anyone but the Liberal-National Coalition, Labor or Greens.

“Of the current 76 senators, there are just eight who are not from the Liberal-National Coalition, Labor or Greens parties. So these three parties control about 90 per cent of Senate seats despite 25 per cent of voters not wanting them there. How does further eroding that tiny percentage of non-major party parliamentarians contribute to a more transparent and accountable democratic process?

“If the Government, the Greens and Xenophon are genuine about giving the voters more choice, why don’t they allow voters to number only six candidates below the line for the six available positions? This was the proposal of seven of the eight crossbenchers to give voters control of the direction of their preferences, yet this fair proposal was ignored.

“Instead, the Government is being aided and abetted by the Greens and Xenophon to manipulate the system from the top-down, so they can entrench the political class and further marginalise the 10 per cent of Senators who speak truth to power on behalf of at least one-quarter of Australian voters.”

Senator Wang said voters were right to question the haste to change a preferential voting system that the major parties and the Greens have happily used for years to funnel votes for and against each other.

“This sudden rush for crude change without any public consultation speaks volumes about the farcical party machines that control the votes, now trying to turn our Senate into a farce. They claim the Senate is not working – well, the Senate is working just fine, which is exactly why they want to change it.”