It appears that the first reason no longer applies – reforms are in train to remove the blight that is Group Voting Tickets, and as of the last day or so to reform below the line voting to optional preferential as well.
Based on Antony Green‘s comments it looks like the new rules are 1 – 6 Above the Line (for parties/groups) and at least 1-12 Below the Line (for individuals) with a savings provision for 1 – 6 (in case of voters getting confused re the ATL/BTL rules).
Overall I think these are solid changes: they put more control in the hands of the voters, and make it easier to vote tactically for specific candidates below the line.
I think it will also lead to smaller ballot papers once the preference herding effect is removed, and there’s less attraction (or opportunity) for microparties to game the system. This video of Antony Green at JSCEM is instructive on that note:
(Thanks to @prestontowers for that).
Smaller ballot papers are likely to be particularly appreciated in NSW where, hopefully, it will remove the need to issue magnifiers with the ballot papers.
However, and despite the temptation to eliminate the current crossbench, I still don’t think the government wants to risk ~7% quotas, or a longer election campaign than the bare minimum 33 days. Noting as before that a July double dissolution requires an 8 – 10 week campaign to avoid nasty Constitutional side effects.