Number of minor parties led to wasted ballots at election

POLITICAL deals like those which helped mining magnate Clive Palmer into a once-safe Coalition seat on the Sunshine Coast are being labelled as "strange deals" in a review of the 2013 federal election.

Fronting a joint parliamentary committee on electoral matters on Friday, ABC election expert Antony Green said the sheer number of minor parties likely led to wasted ballots as voters lost interest while trying to rank more than 100 candidates.

Mr Green said there needed to be an easier system, even if it allowed for voters to choose their top six or 12 below the preferential voting line.

"They should not have to give 110 preferences below the line," he said.

Mr Green said the number of lost votes because of the bloated ballot paper would not have been enough to influence the election's result.

Palmer United Party and Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party won a combined three Senate seats and Mr Palmer himself to win the lower-house seat of Fairfax, despite often having first-preference votes.

In the case of Fairfax in particular, Mr Palmer won 13,000 fewer votes than LNP opponent Ted O'Brien, but took the seat thanks to lucrative preference deals.

"You expect the electoral system to act as a training ground into politics," Mr Green told the committee.

"The system allows people to be involved in cabals to get elected in strange deals, which have nothing to do with getting ideas across to voters."


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