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Parliament passes major electoral reform



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THE HON GARY GRAY AO MP Special Minister of State Minister for the Public Service and Integrity

MEDIA RELEASE

June 22, 2012

Parliament passes major electoral reform

The Australian Parliament has passed its most significant electoral reform in many years, Special Minister of State Gary Gray said today.

“Two reform Bills completed passage through the Senate last night and will soon target the 1.5 million Australians who are entitled to vote but are not even on the roll,” Mr Gray said.

“The Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Maintaining Address) Bill 2011 and the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Protecting Elector Participation) Bill 2012 are fundamental to ensuring the strength and resilience of our democratic system.”

Mr Gray said about one in 10 eligible Australians were not enrolled, representing on average 10,000 people in each of the 150 Federal divisions.

The measures contained in the Bills have already been introduced at a state electoral level in our most populous states - Victoria and New South Wales.

The Bills implement recommendations by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters after the national elections in 2007 and 2010.

The Maintaining Address Bill responds to the Australian Electoral Commission, which has for many years been urging Australia’s legislators to take action to provide additional tools to enable the updating of addresses on the Commonwealth electoral Roll.

One of those tools has been the updating of addresses from third party sources of information. It will allow the Electoral Commissioner to directly update an elector’s enrolled address if the Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that the elector lives at an address other than the enrolled address.

“The Protecting Elector Participation Bill also reinstates arrangements that were in place prior to the 2007 federal election relating to people who have been removed from the electoral Roll by objection action.

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“These Bills will not change the grounds on which a person becomes entitled to enrol and vote.”

Mr Gray said there are a multitude of reasons why 1.5 million of our fellow Australians are not enrolled.

 They may be young.

 They may be old and infirm.

 English may not be their first language.

 They may move home regularly, for economic or other reasons.

 They may be suffering hardship or a personal tragedy, and enrolment is simply not a priority for them.

 They may never have voted before.

 They may be suffering hardship or a personal tragedy, and enrolment is simply not a priority for them.

 They may never have voted before.

“We know that young Australians who do not get on the roll are more likely to become unenrolled and disengaged older Australians,” Mr Gray said.

Media contact: John Arthur 0408 991 261