So tell me, what does constitute a valid vote in the Senate?

Paul Kringas (Letters May 15) rightly complains about having to vote for parties that are abhorrent to him. There is, however, another option when voting for the Senate. As Malcolm Mackerras (Letters May 15) correctly states, voting in one box above the line is a valid vote.

Unfortunately, Mackerras is rather vague about why this is so. It is as well, therefore, to state, in black and white, the relevant provision of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Section 269 of the Act states a vote is "not invalid" if it complies with Section 239 (i.e. at least six boxes above the line are numbered) OR "the voter has marked the number 1, or the number 1 and one or more higher numbers, in squares printed on the ballot paper above the line".

Many Canberra voters say the AEC has sent mixed messages on how to vote for the Senate. Picture: AAP

Many Canberra voters say the AEC has sent mixed messages on how to vote for the Senate. Picture: AAP

The AEC website acknowledges this option on its Voting FAQ page.

This "vote-saving" option is particularly important in the ACT where it is nonsensical to suggest that, unlike the states, we need to vote for three times as many groups as there are Senate vacancies.

The AEC flyer, Your official guide to the 2019 federal election, letter boxed throughout Canberra, incorrectly states that you need to number at least six boxes for a valid Senate vote. Its' full page advertisement (Canberra Times, May 11, p.21) is only slightly less misleading. Why is a mystery.

The AEC should take urgent steps to ensure officials at polling booths are clearly briefed regarding the right of voters to number fewer than six boxes above the line.

Just as importantly, the Commission should publicly and unambiguously reassure voters that if they choose to exercise this option, their votes will not be erroneously discarded as informal by incorrectly briefed officials and scrutineers.

Martha Kinsman, Kaleen

Mackerras is to be commended

I commend Malcolm Mackerras (Letters, Canberra Times, May 15) for bringing to our notice the apparent conspiracy between the AEC, political parties and politicians, and media regarding the "how to vote" instructions. The majority of the voting public will think you must put six choices.

For me, the letter from Mr Mackerras is a few days too late. The fact that, as per Mr Mackerras, "a single number one placed in a party box above the line counts as a fully effective formal vote for the party" is quite deliberately never mentioned anywhere.

Ramesh Patel, Weetangera

Thanks for the heads up

Thank you Malcolm Mackerras (Letters, May 15) for exposing the misinformation being put about by the Australian Electoral Commission. Contrary to what the AEC is saying, ACT voters are not required to fill in six squares if voting above the line or 12 if voting below the line for the Senate.

The Electoral Act says you only need to mark one square above the line and up to six consecutive numbers below the line and your vote will still be valid.

This is good news for voters who don't wish to allocate any preferences to candidates they may find objectionable. Optional preferential voting is the most democratic form of voting. Why the AEC has chosen to mislead the electorate about their voting rights is something which should be subject to a full judicial inquiry after the election.

Peter Ellett, Scullin

This election does matter

It's hard to believe that the world's climate is changing from the stability of the last 10,000 years to a catastrophic situation for all life on earth over the course of one lifetime but that is the case.

With this threat hanging over us, I don't think we have had a more important election for many years. We have many of the tools for addressing climate change, but we have a desperate shortage of commitment in some of our political parties.

Catherine Rossiter, Fadden

Services, not tax cuts please

The political conversations keep getting framed by politicians, but I wish individual's stories formed more of the discussion. So, speaking personally, I've recently been fussed by two things.

My NDIS plan recently got savagely cut. Previously it had support for physiotherapy and guided exercise, both of which had been important to keep me ambulant. The recent imperative on staff, however, seems to have been to cost cut, but it's a false economy. I am now, after a couple of months of being unable to afford either physio or organised exercise, having to get aids to support my degraded walking skills.

And, as an invalid retiree, I recently, while in South Australia, needed some legal advice, only to discover that the South Australian Welfare Rights Centre has been defunded. Since the legal problems have continued unaddressed that's surely a false economy too.

I realise the government has been keen to develop a surplus and to fund tax cuts, but, speaking personally, these concerns have been quite destructive, and these personal effects should surely be shaping these political decisions.

Kirsty Magarey, O'Connor

Political interference claim

Scott Morrison denies that his government put pressure on CSIRO and Geoscience Australia (GA) scientists to approve Adani's plans for the Carmichael coal mine ("PM dismisses claims of Adani pressure", May 15, p12). The facts speak for themselves.

Environment Minister Melissa Price claimed on April 8 that GA and CSIRO had provided assurances that Adani's management plans satisfied all their recommendations. However, hand-written notes from GA showed that Adani had refused to accept several of its recommendations.

Documents recently obtained by the ABC under freedom of information laws show that CSIRO scientists were pressured to give their approval to Adani's groundwater management plan in a single afternoon, two days before the federal election was called. They also show that CSIRO was not prepared to give "categoric" approval to Adani's plan.

Mr Morrison's claim that GA and CSIRO were "100 per cent behind" Adani's plans and put it in writing is clearly false, and confirms that considerable political interference in scientific and technical matters.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

First home buyers at risk

Imagine a young family as first home buyers. One loses their job, interest rates rise and home valuations decline. We saw this in the 1980s.

While we may not see 18 per cent interest rates again soon, the ratio of borrowings against income means a one per cent rise will impact greatly on those who choose to borrow at 95 per cent. They are in the market but can't afford to stay in or get out of it.

My advice? Rent the lifestyle you can afford and then invest in the best location for your future.

Should Labor get in it will be worse with property values declining under their purported negative gearing changes.

Phil O'Mara, Pialligo, NSW

Please don't vote Labor

This is a final appeal to the swinging voters. Think very, very hard about what Labor is promising to do to you and your families.

The $380 billion in taxes that Messrs Shorten and Bowen are planning to take from you will not come from the "rich"; they can look after themselves. It will be the middle class he robs to bribe the lower economic classes, most of whom are not paying any net tax at all.

The Labor election pitch is straight out class warfare and scaremongering. It is the politics of envy and fear.

In spite of what Mr Shorten says, he will not be able to counter his party's left-wing and the Greens and keep our borders secure.

M. Silex, Erindale

In 2016 the big lie was "Mediscare". This time it is 'Climatescare', especially aimed at our younger generation of voters. No matter how many billions of your money he throws at global warming, the effect world-wide will be negligible and thus utterly wasted.

In spite of what Mr Shorten says, he will not be able to counter his party's left-wing and the Greens and keep our borders secure.

However, Mr Shorten is not lying when he says he would run the country like a union, except he should have added that he would be doing only what the ACTU and big unions (receiving rivers of gold from your superannuation funds), tell him or let him do.

Mr Shorten knows he hasn't a hope in hell of implementing even some of his $380 billion tax grab. He is another 'gunna'. Be prepared for lots of social engineering to the detriment of your personal freedoms.

M. Silex, Erindale

Compassion is the best option

Both Labor and the Coalition want a budget surplus. Good. The Coalition apparently wants to achieve it by reducing many essential services. Labor is proposing to redistribute the economic cake from the "haves" to the "have nots" while still running a budget surplus. I prefer the latter.

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

What is in a name?

Browsing through my Italian dictionary the other day I noticed: scomodare (verb transitive) to trouble, inconvenience, disturb; scomodo (adjective) discomfort, annoyance; scomodo (noun masculine) discomfort, annoyance.

Iain MacDougall, Scullin



Both the government and the opposition are proposing reducing deposits on home purchasing to five per cent. Is that not the same as the sub prime mortgages which gave us the GFC?

John Coochey, Chisholm


People are still bashing Labor for the pink batts "fiasco" (R Dace, letters, May 15) which has been saving power for 1.2 million households for 10 years.

S W Davey, Torrens


Paul Kringas (Letters, May 15) says it stinks that voters have to give preferences to candidates who are on the nose. This does give us the chance to pick them in a descending order of malodourousness.

Drake Knight, Goulburn, NSW


Nice one Clive. Free with every nuclear power plant comes an outback radioactive waste dump. Our great great-grandchildren can decontaminate Australia.

Ronald Elliott, Sandringham, Vic


Who would have thought Pauline Hanson would adopt "the sounds of silence" as her election mantra? If she had done that for the last 20 years we could have avoided the voice that scratched a thousand blackboards.

Linus Cole, Palmerston


Why are we told we must vote for at least six preferences for " above the line " voting for the Senate if, as Malcolm MacKerras says, (Letters, May 15) a single number one in a party box counts as a fully effective vote?

Anne Waight, Macquarie


Has anyone seen the Liberals' election policy costings?

Don Sephton, Greenway


Good to hear Dave Sharma is expected to make it into parliament after all. His Middle Eastern foreign policy views, and right wing party backing, make a nonsense of his "modern liberal" claim. It will help to further wreck the Liberal party.

Alex Mattea, Sydney


On whose authority does Douglas Mackenzie state our 2018/2019 summer was the hottest ever? The BOM said last summer was the hottest on record; that is since around 1910. There is a big difference.

N C Butler, Sutton, NSW


I'm surprised three million of us voted before election day. I vote on the day and purchase whatever's on offer to help with school fundraising.

Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham


In recent elections I have followed Crispin Hull's method: start at the bottom, putting your least preferred candidate last. I plan to use the same method again.

Oliver Raymond, Mawson


I agree that with Zlatko Spralja (Letters, May 16) that "Hell doesn't exist". But if Shorten wins the election, economically Australia will become hell on earth.

Michael Lane, St. Ives, NSW

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