'Preference whisperer' faces people's house committee
HE IS the best there is - a master in the shadowy world of preference deals, with his skill often empowering the weak and according to some, the undeserving.
The "independent liaison" Glenn Druery - also known as the preference whisperer - delivered an insight into what goes on when a hodge-podge of political parties are put in a room together.
A House of Representatives committee is currently investigating aspects of the 2013 federal election, including how voter preferences can be manipulated or "gamed".
Mr Druery explained his role as the force behind the Minor Party Alliance, created ahead of the 2013 poll to - as he puts it - educate minor parties on how the system works.
The 30 parties discuss and negotiate preference deals, hashing out between themselves who will trade votes and how after polls close.
"There are two ways of preferencing if you're a minor party," Mr Druery said.
"It is pragmatic or philosophical - either you preference those who share your philosophical views or you preference whoever you need to get elected."
He said there were parties at either end of the spectrum and plenty in the middle.
The wrangling over preferences included groups as varied as the Australian Sex Party, Family First and Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.
He said he makes no judgment on their political views, but dishonesty was punished with expulsion.
Mr Druery was asked how it could possibly be fair that, with his guidance, a candidate with less than 1% of the vote could beat a candidate with 11% based on preference deals.
"I think it's always a good thing to have diversity in our parliament," he said.
"It's a great thing for ordinary Australians to enter the Parliament."
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon asked if Mr Druery would support optional preferential voting - a practice that would stop a vote for one party being redirected to unrelated candidates.
He said it would benefit the Greens as a larger party but would "come at the detriment of helping ordinary Australians be elected".
The next public hearing is due on May 8 in Brisbane.