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Voting rights for young and prisoners saved but privacy trammelled.

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Media Release


Bob Brown

Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania


Wednesday, 17 February 1999


Voting Rights for Young and Prisoners Saved but Privacy Trammelled


Greens Senator Bob Brown says the Government has lost in attempts to disenfranchise young pe ople and prisoners.


“This is a victory for democracy, by backing Greens, ALP and Democrat amendments stopping the Government closing the electoral rolls early before an election, the Senate has protected the integrity of our electoral system.


The Senate has amended the Electoral and Referendum Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1998 by blocking Government moves to close the electoral rolls early and remove voting rights for all prisoners.


The Government had proposed that for all new electors the rolls would close at 6pm on the day of the issue of the writ for an election.


“It is estimated that some 80 000 new enrolments occur in the one week period (that could have been eliminated under this legislation) before the close of rolls in an election period.


“The legislation also proposed removing voting rights for all people in prison. These measures ran counter to our obligations under the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1991 Article 25(b) and the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948 Article 2 1(1),” said Senator Brown.


“The legislation would have been racially discriminatory because Indigenous Australians are vastly over-represented in prisons.


However, Senator Brown condemned the Coalition-ALP majority which voted to give political parties access to the date-of-birth, gender and salutation details of all registered voters — a move not supported by the Privacy Commissioner who has said:


“Where personal information is collected compulsorily I consider that additional uses or disclosers should only be authorised if there is a significant and clearly demonstrated public interest in that happening”


Further information:

Ben Oquist 02 6277 3170 or 0419 704 095