18 May 2004

Florida on the Murrumbidgee

The government's put up a bill to amend the Electoral Act. It's main provisions are to close the roll the day an election is announced, exclude all prisoners serving a jail sentence, and to make enrolment itself a lot more complicated. The joint committee on electoral matters recommended unanimously against the ideas in the bill.

Bob McMullan told the House:

One wonders why the government would bother proposing such measures as raising the threshold for disclosure of donations or closing the electoral roll when the election is called. On their face, both measures are patently undemocratic and serve no real purpose other than perhaps to throw a few bones to the minister's very small conservative cheer squad. Disappointingly, the federal government's only substantive response to the small number of electoral fraud cases in 2000 and 2001 has been to establish a complex and discriminatory enrolment witnessing regime and to reintroduce its longstanding proposals for early closure of the rolls. There can be no doubt that closure of the roll as soon as an election is called would be to the detriment of the franchise. In fact, it is my view that that is exactly what it is intended to do. When Malcolm Fraser closed the roll without notice in 1983, it was estimated that over 150,000 people were disenfranchised or had to vote in the wrong electorate.

The bill will not pass the Senate and really only reflects the level of silliness and fatigue that marks the Man of Steel and his government.

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