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Monday, 20 August 2001
Page: 29816

Mr Danby asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice, on 25 June 2001:

(1) How many voters registered in the 7 day period after the (a) 1998 federal election and (b) 1999 Constitutional Referendum were announced.

(2) Is it the view of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) that most of these voters were 17 and 18 year olds and were first time voters.

(3) Is it a fact that 40% of 18 year olds failed to register prior to the recent Queensland election.

(4) What measures or programs does the Government or the AEC have to encourage young people to participate and register in Australia for elections.

(5) At every federal election since 1983, how many new voters registered in the 5 working days grace that they were given after the announcement of the election.

(6) How many voters were excluded at the 1983 federal election when the rolls were closed on the day the election was announced.

(7) Is the Minister able to say whether the proposal to close the electoral role on the day an election is announced was contained in the Liberal Party submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters prior to its inquiry into the integrity of the electoral roll.

(8) Is the AEC projecting that nearly 80 000 first time voters would use the 5 day period of grace when the next federal election is announced to register to vote.

Mr Fahey (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)(a) For the seven days from the issue of writs to the close of rolls for the 1998 federal election, 351,410 electoral enrolment forms were received and processed.

(1)(b) For the seven days from the issue of writs to the close of rolls for the 1999 referendum, 302,696 electoral enrolment forms were received and processed.

(2) No. Approximately 80% of the enrolment forms received were from electors already enrolled who were notifying a change of address or from electors re-enrolling following their removal from the roll by objection action. Approximately 20% of enrolment forms received were from new or first time enrollees, with a total of 64,219 at the 1998 election and 69,318 at the 1999 referendum. Of the first time enrollees, the AEC estimates that 75% were from electors aged between 18 and 25 (50% from 18 year olds, 10% from 19 year olds and 15% from electors aged 20-25 years of age). At the 1998 federal election there were 174,502 18 year old electors on the roll (an estimated participation rate of 70%) and 197,028 19 year olds (estimated 80% participation).

(3) Yes. At the close of rolls for the 2001 Queensland State election there were 27 959 eighteen year old electors enrolled, an estimated 59% of the eligible population. Of these, 9,955 enrolled for the first time between the announcement of the election and the close of rolls. By polling day for the State election, an additional 1,200 provisionally enrolled electors had turned 18 years of age and were entitled to vote. A further 9,195 eighteen year old first time enrollees (from a total of 16,864 new enrollees) had lodged enrolment forms but were not entitled to vote, as they had missed the close of rolls. (As background, the AEC's Queensland Head Office undertook a major Continuous Roll Update (CRU) mailing of enrolment reminder and roll review letters on Monday 22 January 2001. The Queensland State election was announced unexpectedly on the following day with rolls closing at 5pm Monday 29 January 2001. With the timing of the election announcement just before the Australia Day long weekend, a significant number of responses to the CRU mailout, or voluntary enrolments in response to State Election publicity, were not received in time for the close of rolls at 5.00pm on the Monday. As detailed above, many of the enrolment forms received too late were from young people.)

(4) The AEC undertakes a range of youth communication activities and programs during federal elections and referendums and on an ongoing basis, with the objective of increasing public knowledge and awareness of 18-24 year olds in order to maximise effective participation in the electoral process.

The AEC operates Electoral Education Centres in Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, undertaking educational tours and conducting mock elections for visiting school groups. Electoral Education trainers explain the importance and purpose of enrolment and voting to visiting school groups.

The AEC conducts a number of Continuous Roll Update (CRU) programs which specifically target young people. At the national level, the AEC conducts monthly data matches with their roll management system and Centrelink data on 17 and 18 year olds. As a result of this CRU activity 17 and 18 year olds who are incorrectly enrolled, or who are not enrolled, are mailed an AEC enrolment card.

As a component of the federal election advertising campaign, television and radio `youth' advertisements are developed and placed heavily in the mass media during the close of rolls week to encourage young people to enrol. A range of public relations activities targeted at young people is also undertaken on an ongoing basis and during the election period. Public relations activities include placement of editorials in `youth' publications, information displays at university enrolment days and careers markets, promotion of enrolment through FM and Triple J radio, and heavy promotion of the AEC web site.

(5) The number of first time voters who lodged enrolment forms in the seven days between issue of writs and close of rolls for the following elections is set out below. Statistics for first time voters are not available for prior elections.







(6) The AEC advises that there are no statistics or estimates available as to the number of electors who were unable to enrol for the 1983 federal election due to the immediate close of rolls, that is prior to the introduction of the seven day enrolment period following the issue of the writs.

(7) I understand that copies of submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matter's inquiries are available from the Committee and some submissions are available electronically through its website. I am advised that the Liberal Party submission is available electronically on the Committee's website.

(8) The AEC cannot predict accurately the close of rolls transactions which might occur at the forthcoming federal election. Based on experience at the close of rolls for the last 3 federal elections, it is likely that there will be 300,000-400,000 enrolment forms received during the seven days between issue of writs and close of rolls, including up to 80,000 first time enrolments.