In the wake of more evidence that Victoria’s electoral system is being rorted, the Victorian Greens have called on Daniel Andrews to come clean about claims that Labor agreed to block reform of Victoria’s undemocratic group voting system in exchange for preferences at the 2018 state election.
The revelations of potentially corrupt group voting manipulation mean Labor must immediately commit to abolishing the system in the next term of Parliament.
According to reports in the Herald Sun, ‘preference whisperer’ Glenn Druery allegedly struck a deal with the Labor-aligned CFMEU in 2018 to get a candidate elected that Labor would be happy to work in the Upper House, at the expense of multiple Greens MLCs.
The report alleges that Druery was told the CFMEU would ensure Labor preferenced minor parties ahead of the Greens in upper house group voting tickets, in exchange for Druery’s preferences.
In a leaked video Druery can reportedly be heard saying, “we’ve got to give the government, which will be the Andrews government, we’ve got to give them a crossbench they can work with.”
In the video, Druery also suggests Labor was complicit in keeping group voting tickets due to the threat Druery could make his ‘family’ of crossbenchers very uncooperative if Labor moved to reform the system.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said the new information was tantamount to corruption of the voting system.
She said Labor needed to immediately declare if these claims were true or not, and whether Labor had been involved in the deal between Druery and the union.
Victoria’s upper house voting system sees candidates able to effectively buy a seat in Parliament for upwards of $50,000 via Druery, who manipulates preference deals to help get candidates elected, even if they receive less than one per cent of the primary vote.
The system distorts the will of voters, and results in an upper house crossbench that isn’t representative of the Victorian people. In the Southern Metropolitan region in 2018, a candidate who received just 1.3 per cent of the vote was elected over a Greens MP who received 13 per cent.
In the last term of Parliament, the Greens introduced a motion calling for group voting tickets to be scrapped in Victoria, the only state that still uses them. However, it was voted down by Labor, the Liberals, and the rest of the cross-bench, calling into question whether the Liberals have also dealt with Druery. Druery’s comments in the video imply that he directed his “family” of crossbenchers on how to vote on that motion.
And despite Labor previously promising to establish an inquiry into group voting tickets, the Labor-dominated Electoral Matters Committee blocked it.
The Greens say that if the next Government is serious about restoring integrity in politics, it will make scrapping group voting tickets a matter of priority.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“This must be the final nail in the coffin of our corrupt upper house voting system.
“Victoria is the only state that continues to use the undemocratic group voting tickets, and this is why.
“Labor may prefer to deal with a motley crew of Druery’s ‘family’ on the crossbench rather than the Greens, but it has meant our group voting system has stuck around like a bad rash.
“While it is clear Labor and AJP did deals in 2018 with Glenn Druery to lock the Greens out, the revelations open up serious questions as to the integrity of those involved.
“The Premier must answer whether he or Labor gave a commitment to Mr Druery to keep group voting tickets in exchange for preferable deals.
“Furthermore, the Premier must come clean about any discussions he or his Ministers had with Mr Druery about legislation or other parliamentary business in the last term of parliament.
“People on our Parliament payroll are paying exorbitant fees to get across the line on election day, with their votes being directed by someone happy to rort the system to get them a seat.
“Victorian voters need to stop being taken for a ride each state election. The next Government needs to scrap group voting tickets once and for all.”