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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1976

Senator ZAKHAROV —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Special Minister of State. What steps is the Government taking to maximise the number of eligible voters enrolled for the coming election and to ensure that voters are made aware of changes to electorates and to the method of casting a vote?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Australian Electoral Commission is undertaking a major advertising program during the next six weeks both to maximise the number of eligible voters enrolled and to inform people of changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. As to the first matter, television, radio and Press advertisements will be used to encourage newly eligible voters to enrol or re- enrol if they have changed their address. This segment of the program will also advise voters of the date on which the electoral rolls close. Press advertisements will also appear in ethnic newspapers. The radio commercials include a last reminder to be broadcast before the rolls close on 2 November. The television commercial will build on the creative approach used in the 1983 enrolment program.

As to informing people of changes of various kinds to the Electoral Act, including divisions established under it, the Commission has, with the help of the Department of the Special Minister of State, included divisional names for each voter on the computer program used to produce the address labels for the Yes and No cases booklet for the referendums. As the posting of those booklets commenced this week, advertisements have also begun appearing in the Press and on radio advising voters to look at the wrapper on the booklets for their division names. A similar message has been printed in red ink on the wrapper.

A separate section of the advertising program will deal with postal and absentee voting. It will involve two 30-second television commercials. The first will explain the categories of people who will be eligible to vote by post, while the second will set out how people who will be away from their division but still travelling within their State or Territory can lodge an absent vote. In addition, full page advertisements in the national, regional and ethnic Press will set out the same information.

The final phase of the program will deal with formal voting. A television commercial and accompanying Press advertisement will cover alterations to the Electoral Act relating to voting for senators. A television commercial will show a presenter demonstrating the two alternative methods of voting for senators and tell voters that a Press advertisement will carry a sample of the Senate ballot paper on which they can practise the two alternatives. Separate Press advertisements will appear for each State or Territory and will carry samples of the actual ballot paper. However, the television commercial will not show candidates names or party affiliations. The radio commercials in this phase will advise voters of the date for the election, changes to voting times, and remind electors that voting is compulsory. The whole of the program utilises the 'Make your mark and make it count' theme used in last year's enrolment program.