10 December 2012
Special Minister of State Gary Gray today corrected inaccurate reports that 1.5 million people are about to be automatically enrolled.
“Reports that many more young people might be enrolled under new laws have spooked Liberal politicians, who are basing their comments on inaccurate media reports,” Mr Gray said.
“Opposition frontbencher Chris Pyne says automatically enrolling 1.5 million people is a ‘rort’ and says voters should be required to show identification for enrolment purposes.
“There is no law or move to automatically enrol people; and of course the Australian Electoral Commission requires proof of identify before enrolling anyone.
“This legislation was debated exhaustively in the House of Representatives after being recommended on at least two occasions by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.
“We are not concerned with how people vote, but are aimed at ensuring that citizens who are eligible to vote are able to exercise that important right.”
Mr Gray said the laws passed by Parliament in June this year will target the 1.5 million Australians who are entitled to vote but are not on the roll.
“This legislation was debated extensively in the Parliament after being recommended on no less than three occasions by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.”
“As the Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, said recently on ABC 24, he hopes that over two or three electoral cycles – that is, six to nine years - that about 500,000 to 600,000 eligible voters might be enrolled.
“That’s because the Electoral Commission has been given back the right to enrol people who have been taken off the roll because they have changed addresses or been removed because of objection.
“Previously, the commission was required to remove people from the roll after being advised by authorities such as state traffic departments, that a person had shifted. However, the commission did not have the power to put them back on the roll at their new address.”
Mr Gray said the new laws give the Electoral Commissioner power to directly enrol people, if he is satisfied they should be. The legislation does not provide for automatic enrolment.
“Before directly enrolling an elector, the Australian Electoral Commission will undertake a rigorous data matching exercise to check the identity and eligibility of each elector to ensure they meet the legislative requirements for enrolment and voting,” Mr Gray said.
“Any potential elector will also be given an opportunity to dispute the information, before any action occurs. The Electoral Commissioner has advised me that they will adopt a cautious and staged approach to implementing direct enrolment and update.
“In any case, what have the Liberals to fear? What’s wrong with giving people, particularly young people, the right to vote?
“The Commonwealth Constitution reflects the concept of adult universal suffrage by providing that members of Parliament shall be “directly chosen by the people”. The idea that actions should not be taken to assist Australian citizens to be placed on the electoral roll is intrinsically repugnant.”
|John Arthur - 0408 991 261|