This poll shows 57% of voters want the race for power to be held by members of Parliament from a third party, such as a party of no confidence or a party of returning MPs.
While this is a monumental shift in our recent election system, it has serious implications for democratic reform.
Having a third party supported by an electorate is extremely important in an election campaign; while a Coalition can only guarantee to win seats through competition with the party or individual that tends to end up in government, it cannot guarantee to win these by way of a consensus with the others.
The current first past the post system is flawed from a democratic perspective: it can over-govern candidates and party to maximise their strength, but it gives the Prime Minister disproportionate control over the result.
Labor and the Coalition will be working very hard in 2019 to demonstrate that they have moved away from this approach, with the election announcing the Rudd and Gillard governments’ intention to abolish first past the post and build a new voting system that generates greater accountability.
Labor can play a role in fulfilling this aspiration if it demands a change of the electoral system.
Labor must pressure the Coalition to create an election scheduled just after a mid-term budget, so that the opposition can be seriously contesting the next election.
The Coalition can point to its frequent third-party support, to remind voters that last year was almost 20 years since Labor was first in power and the last time a new election was held.
This gives an opening for the Coalition to exploit in the next election campaign, by arguing that Labor won’t change their flawed voting system.
Changing the electoral system is an opportunity to make the system fairer and less corrupt.
However, it is not a resolution of this electoral problem: it is the basis for resolving an underlying one.
Indeed, as a group, our politicians can promote civil and effective dissent: I am willing to call out the party leaders on abuses of power if, for example, they have actual influence on proceedings at the parties, the expenses scrutiny process or the appointment of ministers.
At the federal level, our current voting system contains several vulnerabilities which pose a threat to any meaningful electoral system change.
First, too many votes go unclaimed or perhaps wrongly counted; second, too many can be won from rural/remote voters who don’t know their party leader. Third, too many of the electors who choose a party of their choice are misled into casting a vote for a candidate who they are not aware of.
These mechanisms exist to ensure that any society has a broad array of political ideas which respect diverse and different values.
The approach we are taking is progressive and democratic. We believe that our first past the post system is simply discriminatory and weak on principle. We believe that electoral reform in Australia will proceed only if Australians can truly debate and discuss the possible impact on various political perspectives and, as so often, with no winners or losers.
We have made a lot of changes to the current voting system over the past two decades; hopefully the current Labor government will lead to a progressive decision that expands the democratic horizon and invigorates our electoral system.
This poll was commissioned by Paul Kelly, the leading independent electoral reform expert, and Kiewa byelections run by the Greens had the same margin as the last byelection.