By Rachel Baxendale, Victorian Political Reporter and Samantha Hutchinson, Victorian Political Writer – THE AUSTRALIAN
Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten has called for urgent reform of the state’s preferential voting system for the Legislative Council, taking aim at “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery.
Mr Druery, who is chief of staff to federal senator Derryn Hinch, takes payment from parties and arranges preferences flows to maximise election chances.
ABC election analyst Antony Green has predicted Mr Druery’s client Stuart O’Neill, of the Aussie Battler Party, “looks certain” to win a seat in the Western Metropolitan region if he can poll 0.3 per cent of the vote.
Ms Patten paid Mr Druery $20,000 to help with the final stages of her successful 2014 campaign, but this time refused a request for $5000 upfront and $50,000 if successful.
The Reason Party leader has complained to the Victorian Electoral Commission and Victoria Police regarding Mr Druery’s business.
“We need to absolutely make it illegal to buy and sell preferences,” she said, adding she expected reform of group voting tickets to be very high on the terms of reference for the Victorian parliament’s electoral matters committee after the election.
Ms Patten said Mr Druery’s support of parties including the Aussie Battler Party, Transport Matters, Sustainable Australia, the Liberal Democrats, Senator Hinch’s Justice Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party would make the fight to retain her seat much harder.
Mr Druery rejected Ms Patten’s criticisms, saying she had paid him to run her preference campaign in 2014.
“What more can I say?” he said.