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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29332

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:41 AM) —Mr Deputy Speaker—

Mr SLIPPER —My friend opposite really ought to stick to his next bill. I will be quite brief because the matters raised by the member for Melbourne Ports in his speech were covered in my earlier contributions. The government welcomes the recommendations of the joint standing committee and congratulates the committee. We believe that the committee does a good job. We believe that the recommendations did not go far enough. That is not to repudiate the provisions of what the committee has said. With respect to the shutting out of voters, there is no intention to do that. While the list of prescribed witnesses has not yet been determined, so often in our society when people sign documents they need certain prescribed witnesses, and surely getting on the electoral roll is at least as important as carrying out some other spheres of human activity.

The suggestion by the member for Melbourne Ports that the government was in some way, shape or form trying to lock out younger voters is simply not accurate. We already have provisions for the provisional enrolment of 17-year-olds, and those provisions will of course encourage younger people to get on the electoral roll. In any event, why on earth would the government be wanting to knock out younger voters when all the opinion polls are showing that younger voters strongly support the policies of the government? The opinion polls I have seen indicate that the government enjoys very strong support from younger voters in our society, so why on earth would we be trying to lock them out? All we are trying to do is bring about an electoral roll with the maximum possible integrity.

The member for Melbourne Ports referred to the last several elections and suggested that only a small number of frauds had been discovered. In many cases, we would not know whether people fraudulently got on the electoral roll or not because, under the current system with the flood of enrolments just prior to the close of roll prior to an election, the Electoral Commission simply does not have the time or the resources to work out whether those people should go on the roll. In many cases, those people just go on the roll. We do not know if nom de plumes are going on the electoral roll. We do not know if nom de plumes vote. The abolition of subdivisional voting made it easier for people to go from polling booth to polling booth.

While only a certain number of examples of electoral fraud may have been identified, the idea is to cover the situation where electoral fraud is not identified. There are a whole lot of cases in which I believe there has been electoral fraud but it has not been identified. The whole reason for this legislation is to make sure that any such fraud, if it has happened in the past, does not happen again and to make sure that we have an electoral roll with the maximum possible level of integrity. I ask the member for Melbourne Ports to change his mind and support the government, because this is really good legislation.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a third time.