PM pushes for Senate reform

BY JOHN NAPIER @johnknapier

The Turnbull government hopes to have laws passed to implement Senate voting reforms before Parliament rises on March 17.

The reforms could trigger a double dissolution election and upset minor parties and independents, some of whom are likely to be wiped out.

The government will face fierce opposition with the majority of the Senate cross bench. The voting reforms could make it more difficult to devise preference deals and game the system to get elected.

A double dissolution election could occur in July as a result of  “optional preferential” voting reforms radically reshaping the Senate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the changes would ensure Australian voters know where their Senate votes would go, instead of having preferences allocated by complicated back room deals.

Labor leader Bill Shorten declined to outline his party’s position, citing an internal split over the issue.

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