Federal Politics

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Truss rules out Liberal voting push

THE acting Opposition Leader, Warren Truss, has hosed down a push from within the Liberal Party to end compulsory preferential voting for federal elections, saying there are no Coalition plans to change the system.

Mr Truss - leader of the Nationals - stamped out the idea while visiting fire-affected areas of Tasmania. ''There will always be healthy debate about these issues, but the Coalition has no plans or policy to change the current system of compulsory preferential voting,'' he said.

The Liberal frontbencher Bronwyn Bishop has backed reported calls from some in the Liberal Party for an end to the system where voters have to number all the lower house candidates in their electorate. On Thursday, Mrs Bishop said compulsory preferential voting had led to a rise in informal votes. ''To have an optional preferential vote means that you would increase the valid votes that are cast,'' she told ABC Radio.

''There are many people who object to being forced to vote for somebody who is someone they simply don't want to cast a vote for, but they still wish to vote.''

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the 2010 federal election saw the highest number of lower house informal votes since 1984, with a national informality rate of 5.55 per cent.

The ABC election analyst Antony Green has noted that a voluntary system would likely hurt Labor's overall vote.