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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 3700


Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (10:02): I appreciate the opportunity to continue my remarks from last night, which were interrupted by the adjournment debate. The comments that I was making last night were related to the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Maintaining Address) Bill 2011 and to the general concept of the integrity of the electoral roll. As I said last night, I personally experienced a problem with the integrity of the electoral roll in the seat of Cowan and leading up to the 2010 federal election.

My experience related to a house on Wanneroo Road, a major axial route within Cowan. The address was 64 Wanneroo Road, Marangaroo. This house had come to the attention of my office because a number of locals had complained, about a year out from the election, that it had been occupied by squatters and had been pretty much trashed and was completely unliveable. That had been confirmed to me by a couple of different people—people who were reliable sources.

So it came as quite a surprise to have found during a subsequent check of the electoral roll about a month later, as we moved closer to the election, that two names were suddenly enrolled on the electoral roll at that house. The two names were quite familiar to me because they were, in fact, the main supporters of my Labor opponent at the last election. I was again informed that the standard of the house had not improved. Because it was on the route from my office to my home, I drove past the house every day. Whilst I did see a large amount of electoral advertising put up on the walls—apparently contrary to the City of Wanneroo's by-laws, but let us not let that get in the way of matters of integrity—and that there was occasionally a car parked during the day outside the house, there were never any lights on at night. There was never any activity. It seemed to be the same decrepit house that it had always been, or at least that it had been in the months since it was pretty much destroyed. However—surprise, surprise—there were those two names on the electoral roll and they were known to me. I knew exactly who they were.

That is an interesting case when we look at matters to do with the integrity of the roll and I do know that the government has been lecturing and quite sanctimonious on these matters. My personal experience in 2010 was that a couple of dodgy enrolments had taken place and, with the exception of what were obviously campaign meetings in the month before the election, there was never a light on in that house at night. Yet for six months or so there were people on the electoral roll for that house. I am quite sure they were not on my side; my opponent got a couple of extra votes out of that. I decided I was not going to do anything about it before the election, but after the election I approached the AEC and said, 'Well, there's clearly no-one living there, can you investigate that?' Their officers seemed to agree with me that there was no-one there, but it took another six months or so before they changed their enrolment back to where they actually did live. I found it to be quite an interesting experience, and I guess the government should take heed that there are some problems out there and that there are some other problems with the electoral roll that could be fixed up.

I also said last night that there were two things I wanted to mention with regard to matters in Cowan and the integrity of the electoral roll. Back in 2007, when I was first elected, on the night of the election after the polls had closed I was approached by my booth captain for Blackmore Primary School, which was one of the booths in Girrawheen. I was told by the booth captain that he believed that there was one person who had voted three times. They were never in the same shirt, but a very familiar person seemed to show up on two extra occasions after their first vote. They were never carrying my how-to-vote card, not that that should matter, of course. So I asked the booth captain whether he had reported it to the AEC manager. Apparently he had, but I do not know what happened after that. Without doubt there is electoral fraud going on in this country and there are people doing the wrong thing.

As I said last night, the government are very keen on taking these sorts of positions on election funding with bills exactly like this. But it always seems to be the case that whatever they propose absolutely favours their own interests. With electoral funding, unions are of course never part of those sorts of reforms, but any other form of election funding or support is always part of reforms proposed by the government.

If the government genuinely wanted real electoral reform, they would ask for photo ID from people turning up at polling booths. I think that would be quite a step forward. It does seem strange that, for just about anything you do in this country—whether it is turning up for accommodation or turning up to take possession of a package left for you at Australia Post—you are always required to show photo ID, yet for one of the greatest responsibilities you have as a citizen you do not need to identify yourself. All you need to do is assert your identity. All you need to do is say, 'I am such and such,' and they will find that name and just tick it off. If there were a real interest in electoral reform, making sure everyone is exactly who they are meant to be would be the right thing to do—particularly requiring provisional voters to show photographic ID. I think that would be a reasonable step forward.

I stand with the coalition in opposing this legislation. There are better ways to have electoral reform in this country. We will see how this vote goes, but I stand with my coalition colleagues in opposing these ridiculous bills.