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CLP submission to electoral committee is about preventing voters enjoying a free and fair vote.

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Media Release

The Hon Warren Snowdon, MP

Australian Labor Party

Member for the Northern Territory


20 May 1999


CLP submission to Electoral Committee is about

preventing voters enjoying a free and fair vote


Federal member Warren Snowdon said today his submission to the committee looking into the conduct of the 1998 Federal Election would concentrate on ensuring that voters who are impaired are ensured a secret vote free from intimidation.


Mr Snowdon will be speaking to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in Darwin tomorrow (Friday) morning.


“There is currently legislation before Federal Parliament which will seriously compromise the ability of a person who is visually impaired, physically handicapped, has English as a second or third language, or is culturally disadvantaged, to cast a free vote,” Mr Snowdon said.


“The legislation, much of the impetus for which has come from the Coalition’s partners in the Northern Territory who are still hurting from their loss at the last Federal election, will give political party scrutineers powers in the conduct of a polling booth they have had not had previously.


“Make no mistake, the Government’s changes to the assisted voting process are transparently political in motivation,” Mr Snowdon said.


“Disturbingly, what we have seen from the CLP in its official submission is a wholesale and unsubstantiated attack on the integrity of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).


“And the attack on the ABC by the CLP will increase in intensity in Parliament House tomorrow.


“The CLP are doing this because unlike the Northern Territory Electoral Office the AEC does not reside in the Chief Minister’s Department but is a Commonwealth body,” Mr Snowdon said.


“What this exercise is about is the CLP and the Federal Government seeking to prevent people casting a valid vote. They are using all sorts of arguments, none of which have any validity, attempting to tamper with the secret vote, cast free from interference,” Mr Snowdon said.


“The CLP fails to understand that Aboriginal people in the bush have a strong view about who they want to vote for, and this annoys the hell out of the CLP because largely they do not vote for them.


“From my point of view what needs to be protected here is the right of people to be free to cast their own vote free from intimidation or interference, be it from scrutineers from either the ALP or the CLP,” Mr Snowdon said.


“The AEC has already formally responded to the attacks on its integrity formally, stating: (a) The AEC has received no formal complaints from Aboriginal voters themselves about the conduct of assisted voting in remote mobile polling in the Northern Territory or elsewhere in Australia; (b) The AEC does not accept that there is any balanced or credible evidence to support generalised claims that assisted voting in remote mobile polling in Aboriginal communities has been conducted improperly or illegally, either at the last federal election or at previous federal election.


“My primary motivation is to enfranchise people to vote,” Mr Snowdon said.


“It is a great pity the CLP could not keep its eye on the ball,” Mr Snowdon said.





Tony Haritos  (08)8945 7400,  0417 804 878


md 1999-05-25  10:18