After having explained that Australia uses AV the "No" leaflet claims, that : "in Australia, 6 out of 10 people want to go back to the system we use in the UK."
I Emailed a friend in Australia and asked what substance there is in this claim. His reply cam yesterday:
Re your question, I've never heard of any statistic about ditching preferential voting in favour of FPTP, nor has Liz (his wife) and it's not something that's discussed at all as far as I know. I'll ask around my colleagues, but I think it's a complete non-issue! The only time I heard it being discussed was after the UK election, when there were press reports here of `unfairly' ditched MP's, and some Aussie pride in the Brits considering adopting `our superior system' (rather than the other way round).
My contact goes on to say that what Australians do beef about are compulsory voting (and fines for forgetting to vote) and the necessity in some elections (rules differ from state to state and upper and lower house elections) to put all the candidates in order, not just the top two or three preferred ones. This, he says, can lead to an invalid vote if you accidentally put, say, two number 12s in a rather long list.
Neither of these problems arise, of course, with the current AV proposal in Britain. Voting will remain optional (and rightly so, in my view) and voters are quite at liberty to rank as many preferences as they wish, and if they only want to indicate one preference, that's fine.
So it appears that here is another piece of misinformation from the "No" campaign. I can fully understand why leaders of the "Yes" campaign, and leading Liberal Democrats, including the normally astute Simon Hughes, are waxing indignant about the "No" campaign's tactics, but I still feel that abuse and threats of legal action are counter-productive. The electorate has little sympathy for those who cry "Foul!" Quiet calm deliberation remains the answer.