Queensland election has disproportionate result

Yesterday’s Queensland state election result shows the need for a proportional representation system.

The incumbent Labor Government suffered a humiliating defeat, with the Liberal National Party winning an overwhelming majority in the Queensland Parliament. Yet at last count, the Liberal National Party received slightly less than a majority of the vote (49.68%). The rest was split between Labor (26.95%), Katter’s Australian Party (11.50%), Greens (7.27%), Family First (1.37%), and other minor parties and independents (3.23%).

There are 89 seats in the Queensland parliament (and only one house). In a proportional electoral system, yesterday’s result should have distributed those seats approximately as follows: Liberal National 44, Labor 24, Australian 10, Greens 6, Family First 1; with the 3 final seats won by others or perhaps decided by preferences.

Under the current electoral system in Queensland (also federally and in many other states), the Parliament is elected by single-member electorates. Thus despite winning less than a majority of the vote, the Liberal National Party won 78 of the 89 seats. Labor won just 7, the Australian Party 2, and independents 2. (Note that not all the votes have been counted, so the numbers could change slightly in the final result.)

As a consequence, the Liberal National Party will face no effective opposition in the Queensland Parliament. The state will be dominated by one party, a party which didn’t even win a majority of the vote.

In the federal Australian Parliament, the single-member electorate system has not yet resulted in the dominance of a single party, and balance is provided by the federal Senate which has a more proportional system. However, the house of government is still dominated by two major parties, and it is very difficult for minor party candidates to get elected. The fact that people are more likely to vote for minor parties in Senate elections than in lower house ones suggests non-proportional representation not only fails to represent the votes that are cast, but also skews primary votes in the first place.

The electoral system of both Queensland and Australia is unrepresentative and, in my opinion, unfair. The system does not represent what the people voted for, allow one or two parties to dominate politics, and discourage people from voting for non-dominant parties. Instead, Australia’s federal Parliament, and all states and territories, should switch to a proportional electoral system.


1 ping

    • John R on 26 March 2012 at 18:45
    • Reply

    You’re absolutely right. I’m considering starting a formal petition requesting the Parliament implement such a change. Of course with the dominance the LNP currently holds there’s very little chance they’ll be interested, but perhaps at least the idea will get more exposure and grow over time.

    • Sean on 27 March 2012 at 19:51
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    Wrong.australian federal system is IMHO the fairest in the world. Proportional lower houses mean shaky coalitions stitched together pandering to whims of a small often radical minority(see Israel for an example). Having representation in the lower house means a well loved independent can get up. Proportional in the senate means smaller voice like the greens get a say in policy decision. We are lucky to get to enter preferences with a two party preferrered “second round”,that is not the common experience around the world. Qld just needs a second house. Better yet abolish the states and enlarge and empower local goverets,our population is too small for 3tiers of government.

  1. […] party discipline. (For an explanation of how the 2012 Queensland election was unrepresentative see this post by Precarious Climate.) This in turn means that the lower houses of parliament becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp […]

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