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Second milestone in ATSIC elections.



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Second Milestone In ATSIC Elections IPS 057/2002

The second milestone in the 2002 ATSIC Regional Council elections campaign will be reached this Saturday when the majority of eligible Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders cast their vote, Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Philip Ruddock said today.

The first milestone was reached last month with the close of nominations which saw a substantial increase in Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders seeking elected office.

"I am confident we will see a substantial increase in the voter turnout on Saturday," Mr Ruddock said.

"I'm advised by ATSIC staff and Australian Electoral Commission officials that anecdotal evidence from the pre-polling and remote polling which has been conducted around Australia since October 7 indicates unprecedented voter interest in this unique electoral process," he added.

"I would urge all eligible voters around the country, particularly those in urban centres, to exercise their right to be heard and cast a vote on Saturday.

"The voter information and awareness campaign conducted by ATSIC and the AEC has concentrated on increasing voter turnout in urban Australia, where in past elections the voter turnout is urban areas has been much lower than in rural and remote areas.

"The campaign has also focussed on increasing the level of involvement of young people and women.

"Nominations around the country show a substantial increase in women and young people seeking office and I'd expect the vote will reflect this.

"Final tabulated nomination figures are yet to be received but I'm advised more than 6,000 new voters have been signed up in the past three months following an enrolment drive by ATSIC and the AEC."

Mr Ruddock also welcomed today's decision by the Federal Court in Hobart in relation to the trial Indigenous Electoral Roll which has cleared the way for nominations to open for the Tasmanian Regional Council elections next Monday.

Those eligible to vote in Tasmania will do so on November 12.

17 October 2002

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