Like almost all of Australia, I voted today using the new rules for the senate today. Overall, I would say that they're an improvement, but there was one thing that had me rather concerned.
Prior to the changes, I would have only voted below the line to be in complete control of who my vote did and did not go to. This election, I opted to do above the line as while I care about the preference order of individual parties, I didn't care about the ordering of individual candidates. This made doing my senate voting much quicker than it had been in previous years.
However, one thing was odd about the above the line options - where were the independents? They were listed below the line, but the corresponding box was blank. I asked one of the volunteers what happened there and he said he didn't know, but seemed to agree with my assessment, that the blank box was for selecting independents in the above the line voting method.
Surely you can't just lump independents together like that? It defies the very point of being an independent. It's possible, and even likely that these independents will have competing ideologies and so it makes no sense to place them together. For this reason , while I certainly think the new voting system is an improvement, we still have an unfair system.
Of course, the easiest way to get around this lumping together is to become a political party. The AEC says that you need at least 500 members in order to be registered as a political party, which seems like it could be a considerable barrier to entry and greatly slow advancement in Australian politics.
Though there's not likely to be as many complaints about it this time. Who's going to push through changes for independents if no independents can get in?