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Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1847

Senator BLACK —Has the Minister representing the Special Minister of State seen recent Press reports relating to phantom voters on the State electoral rolls in Queensland? Can the Minister assure the Senate that electoral rolls administered by the Federal Government in Queensland are not in a similar appalling condition to those State rolls used in the seat of Redlands last weekend, where between 500 and 1,000 voters were incorrectly on the roll and yet up to 500 voters were forced to claim section votes because they were not on the roll? To what extent do these problems arise in Queensland because Queensland is now the only State to maintain separate State and Federal rolls? What success has the Federal Government had in negotiating joint enrolment procedures and joint rolls with the phantom Ministers of the Queensland Government?

Senator WALSH —Yes, I was broadly aware of the reports to which Senator Black has referred, which indicate a deplorable condition of the State electoral rolls in Queensland. Whether that is the result of negligence or design is, I suppose, a matter of opinion. Senator Black asked for an assurance that the electoral rolls administered by the Commonwealth Government in Queensland are not in a similar condition. I can give such an assurance because the Commonwealth regularly conducts habitation reviews. The last habitation review in Queensland was carried out just prior to the 1984 election. Another is due to be commenced about the middle of 1986. I also know for a fact that Queensland is the only State which refuses to accept a common roll with the Commonwealth within a State boundary. Again, one can only speculate on why Queensland insists on being the only State to do so, therefore wasting its own money, and on whether it has an irresistible compulsion to waste its own taxpayers' money or whether there is a more sinister motive.

I understand that recently an arrangement was negotiated with the Queensland Government whereby joint enrolment cards will be made available but that such cards will be separately processed. The legislation for that is currently before the Queensland Parliament. Although the provision of joint enrolment cards is a sensible move, it does not provide any assurance or, indeed, opportunity for the Commonwealth to guarantee that the Queensland electoral rolls are in order because the processing of those application cards is outside the control of the Commonwealth.