Over the next two years, we will conduct Community Preselections in each of Australia’s 150 federal electorates and in the state electorates of New South Wales and Victoria.
This is a big step in Australian democracy. But it is not new. It is a return to our roots. The painting below shows a community preselection meeting in Bendigo, Victoria, in 1854. [Anon. Bendigo Regional Gallery]
We have to return to our roots because Australian democracy is broken.
Our parliaments and governments are now made up of the wrong sort of people. Instead of people with track records as problem solvers, innovators, community builders, entrepreneurs, thinkers and system designers, we have people who have mostly only ever done one thing – play politics. So long as this continues, we have no hope of meeting the many challenges facing the country.
We need a once-in-a-generation replacement of the current crop of politicians with a new batch of representatives who have proven track records in bringing people together, solving problems, and leading.
To enable this change, we will conduct Community Preselections to allow community members to select a community leader to represent them in parliament.
This process allows the community to bypass the party preselection processes of Liberal, National, Labor and Green parties which function as gatekeepers and protectors of our broken political system.
The Community Preselection process in each electorate will culminate in a Town Hall meeting with pitches from contending candidates, questions from community preselectors, and an in-person vote (with no online or proxy voting).
It will follow a public process of calling for nominations for community representatives (candidates), and an invitation for community members to register as Community Preselectors.
Town Hall meetings and community ballots will take place as follows:
March 2021 – House of Representatives (Federal)
April 2021 – Senate (Federal)
March 2022 – Legislative Assembly (Victoria)
April 2022 – Legislative Council (Victoria)
August 2022 – Legislative Assembly (NSW)
September 2022 – Legislative Council (NSW)
Nominations as Community Representatives (Candidates) and Registrations as Community Preselectors close on the last day of the month preceding the Town Hall meeting. That is, nominations for the House of Representatives close on the last day of February 2021.
Further details on the Victorian Election are available here.
Further details on the NSW Election are available here.
The Community Preselection will be conducted by three Community Commissioners in each electorate or region. The role of the three Commissioners is to:
a. organise the preselection and ballot process;
b. promote the preselection process in their electorate and register community participants; and
c. ensure complete openness and integrity in the process and ballot.
It is intended that the three Community Commissioners in each electorate will be drawn from different social and political backgrounds, with at least one Commissioner being a Justice of the Peace, an ex-magistrate or appeals tribunal official, or a respected community board chair.
For the next Federal Election, there will be three Community Commissioners in each of the 150 electorates. For the Victorian Election in October 2022, there will be three Community Commissioners in each of the 8 Upper House regions (each comprising 11 Lower House electorates). For the NSW Election in March 2023, there will be three Community Commissioners in each of 12 regions (with varying numbers of Lower House electorates).
To be eligible to participate and vote in the Community Preselection, community members must either:
a. register as a Community Preselector with a $10 registration payment (to cover administrative costs) and declare that they a not a current or recent member of Liberal, National, Labor or Green parties; or
b. be a Full Member of The Sensible Centre (membership is open to members and non-members of political parties with full voting rights on payment of a $25 membership fee covering the period to July 2022); or
c. be a member of a Participating Political Party (a participating political party is a registered federal or state party that participates in the Community Preselection process, and agrees to support the preselected candidates in the following elections).
The Criteria for Community Representatives (Candidates)
Community members may nominate as a Community Representative who:
a. have a history of bringing people together for the common good and a history of voluntary contribution in their electorate;
b. have a track record as a problem solver, innovator, community builder, entrepreneur, thinker or system designer;
c. are capable of representing the issues and challenges facing their electorate;
d. are capable of building trust and confidence in local democracy;
e. are able to mobilise community members in winning a seat in parliament, and
f. are not current or recent members of Liberal, National, Labor or Green parties.
Register your Interest
Our goal is to have as many community members as possible participate in the preselection ballot in each electorate.
If you would like to act as a Community Commissioner in this process, please register your interest using this form.
To participate and vote as a Community Preselector, register using this form.
To nominate as a Community Representative (Candidate) , register using this form.
The Community Preselections process is hosted and supervised by the Steering Committee of The Sensible Centre.