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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5612


Mr DANBY (9:45 AM) —Yesterday was a day for the Liberal Party that shall live in infamy. Yesterday their party room voted against the provisions to restore the seven-day period of grace to the electoral roll whereby young voters previously had the opportunity to enrol straight after an election was called. They also knocked back the proposal for provisional votes to be accepted in electorates on the basis of matching signatures, as they had been in the 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004 elections—a system under which the previous opposition were elected to government. They claimed that it was leading to vote fraud, but they were elected under that system at all of those previous elections.

The member for Goldstein, the opposition spokesman on this issue in the House, claimed that the reason for this was that the Australian Electoral Commission had no time to process votes of voters enrolling in the proposed period of grace. That is wrong. In its testimony on every occasion the Australian Electoral Commission have said that it is quite possible for them to process all of these enrolments and that that would be done efficiently and to the high standard that we expect of the Australian Electoral Commission. The member for Goldstein claimed that because fewer people missed lodging an enrolment application this was an indication that the system invented by them for the 2007 election worked. That is wrong. Fewer people sought to enrol because of the onerous identity changes that the previous government put into the legislation just for the last election.

Yesterday the member for Goldstein claimed in his speech as justification for this Liberal Party policy that the resumption of the previous system would make voting fraud easier. That is wrong. At every election in the past, including the last election, it has been demonstrated again and again that the Australian electoral system is one of the cleanest, least corrupt in the world. At the last election the Australian Electoral Commission found that there were 20,000 alleged cases of multiple voting. Of those votes, 18,000 were subsequently found to be of people from the same family whom a polling official had mixed up but which were subsequently found to be okay. Of the 1,100 remaining votes, 82 per cent were elderly voters who had voted on polling day and also cast a postal vote. It was completely innocent, not malevolent, and was not an attempt to rort the Electoral Commission at all. This evidence suggests that the Liberal Party has decided to be involved in an antidemocratic manoeuvre which, in my view, is the electoral version of Work Choices. It is a disgrace. Thousands of young people are going to be deterred from voting and thousands of people—(Time expired)