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Thursday, 28 October 2021
Page: 10279

Mr TAYLOR (HumeMinister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (10:26): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I introduce the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021.

The bill amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918(Electoral Act) and Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984(Referendum Act) to implement the government's response to voting identification recommendations arising from the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) inquiries into the conduct of recent elections.

The bill will further improve public confidence in the integrity of Australian elections, and reduce the risk of fraud in the form of voter impersonation by requiring voters to present identification documentation prior to receiving a ballot paper during pre-polling, and at polling locations on polling day.

The measures in this bill will bring Australia into line with voter identification practices of other liberal democracies, such as Canada and Sweden, and with other everyday activities in Australia that require proof of identification, such as driving, opening a bank account, or collecting a parcel from the post office.

This bill changes the existing requirement under the Electoral Act and Referendum Act for a voter to identify their name and address verbally, to a requirement to provide a proof of identity document.

The bill includes a broad range of options for voters to verify their identity by proof of identity document, including:

current photographic ID, such as a drivers licence, passport, or proof of age card;

government-issued identification card or documentation, such as a Medicare card, birth certificate, citizenship certificate or Australian Electoral Commission(AEC)-issued enrolment confirmation notice;

recent proof of name, such as a utilities account statement, taxation notice of assessment, bank account statement, mobile phone account notice;

a credit card or debit card; or

a document issued by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land council or native title body.

These forms of proof of identity can also be provided in electronic form—such as a digital drivers licence on a mobile phone.

No voter will be denied a vote because they do not have a proof of identity document. There are two options for voters who do not have a proof of identity document when they go to vote:

the voter can have their identity attested to by another enrolled person who has a proof of identity document, using an approved form; or

the voter will be issued with a declaration vote.

An attester to the identity of another voter must show a proof of identity document to a polling official. They must also complete an approved form which records the attester's full name, enrolled address, details of the identity document utilised, and the name of the voter whose identity is being attested. Both the attester and the voter must sign the approved form. The form is to be retained as evidence by the AEC, in case of any suspected instance of multiple voting.

There are already checks and balances used by the AEC to verify the identity of a person casting a declaration vote, as well as safeguards to prevent multiple voting.

It is also consistent with other everyday activities that require proof of identification, such as driving, opening a bank account, or—

Opposition members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): Order! Enough, please.

Mr TAYLOR: collecting a parcel from the post office. To ensure privacy is protected, a voter's proof of identity document must only be used by the AEC to establish the voter's identity.

The requirement to present a proof of identity document will not apply to electronically assisted voting, otherwise known as 'telephone voting', which is used by vision-impaired voters and Antarctic electors.

Postal voting, as a form of declaration voting with its own rigorous preliminary scrutiny processes, will also be exempt from these requirements.

This bill will also replicate amendments to the Electoral Act in the referendum act, to maintain consistency between the two acts.

The government has committed additional funding of $5.6 million to the AEC to implement these measures, including communication and community engagement activities to inform voters about electoral participation with these new requirements.

These changes will help to safeguard the integrity of Australian elections and referendums by reducing the potential for voter impersonation and provide additional assurance to Australia's free and fair elections.

I commend the bill to the House.