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The need for a fairer voting reform

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

Recently it occurred to me that I needed to update my enrolment details to vote, as I’ve just recently moved for study purposes close to my university. The recent Super Saturday by-elections throughout the country reminded me of the need to vote come next year’s upcoming federal election. As many of you may or may not be aware, Australia has compulsive voting meaning that if you’re enrolled and you don’t vote you risk a small fine.

Now most people who don’t vote either pay the fine and move on, but what if you wanted to vote and still couldn’t vote in your area because the AEC wouldn’t allow you to update your details? Many of you would be saying; “How does that make sense?” Well simply put, this is an everyday problem that some do find quite common, especially if your circumstances prevent you from being able to update your enrolment details.

When you update your enrolment you have to provide a copy of your driver’s license, but in other cases if you can’t provide a license you have to organise somebody who is on the electoral roll to step in for you to confirm your identity, much like a little kid getting their mum or dad to give them permission to go on a school excursion. This is despite the fact even if you have a form of ID like an adult proof of age card. Now some of us can get somebody we know to confirm our identity but what if you have a disability, or are homeless, or not exactly the social type? Or you work long shifts and don’t have the time to do this? Well these are situations what many people go through and a lot of the time it means less people rolling out to vote. Which brings me to my next question: is it time to change how we register to vote?

Queensland: a History of Voter Fraud

Queensland, under the reign of the Newman, brought about the rule for voters to bring their ID to vote much like it is in many states in the US, which has been brought forward by many Republicans. But QLD has had a long history of voter fraud and manipulation dating back to the 1940s.

It was in 1949 when the long-term Labor government of the era changed the voting system from a one person, one vote, one value system to one where the number of voters in each electorate according to their size and proximity from the state’s capital in Brisbane. At the time this gave an enormous advantage to the ALP which used to draw a great deal of strength from its rural voting blocs. But this didn’t last as the ALP fell apart and splintered nationwide during the 1950s cold war splits which cost Labor government in QLD in 1957.

The Country Party came to power however, and took these electoral changes to a whole new level under the guise of a gerrymandering system under Premier Frank Nicklin, but it was really his successor “Sir” Joh that took who took the gerrymander to the next level Regardless of the population of each electorate it was made so that rural seats had as much weight as metropolitan areas which greatly benefited the National party this kept Labor in the wilderness for 32 years.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Joh even changed the name of the Country Party to the National Party to diminish the Liberal Party’s metropolitan base which some argued cost the National power in the end, split the Coalition in QLD and even cost John Howard the chance of government in the 1980s against the then Federal Hawke Labor Government.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland from 1968 to 1987. Photo from the Courier Mail

Things were further complicated by the Fitzgerald Inquires and vast array of police and political corruption found to be systemic in the QLD political structure in the late 1980s. It became evident that a change was needed to not only reform the political structure but how voting occurred in QLD as well. It wasn’t until the successful election of Wayne Goss that a fairer voting system was introduced were a comprise was met which allocated at least 40 seats in the parliament of 89 to Brisbane where a good portion of the state’s population was at the time.

Further reform needed?

After mostly 21 years of mostly Labor rule from the late 1980s to 2012, Campbell Newman commanded the first Liberal National majority since the Nationals held power in the 1980s. Reforms were quickly introduced for voters to prove identification to vote in future elections much like the Republicans do in the US. This did not last as Labor returned to power and relaxed such hard-line restrictions as it was harder for people to turn out to vote and enrol in 2015s QLD state election. That said, certain restrictions do still remain where people with 18 Plus Cards who may not drive must ensure somebody else on the electoral roll can prove their enrolment details in a paternal manner. Perhaps it’s time to reform this by allowing people with ID to prove their enrolments themselves.

Campbell Newman: LNP QLD Premier (2012 – 2015)

To enrol to vote contact the AEC.

Or contact your local MP if you think it’s unfair that people with ID who may not drive still need somebody else to confirm their enrolment, please find attached their contacts via the QLD Parliament website.

Callen is an active member of the Australian Fabians Society and is a Quandamooka Noonucle Indigenous person with a strong commitment to community. Callen has been in the ALP, worked in the retail, media, and market research sectors and is currently a student at Griffith University and works in IT. He also has a Diploma of Business.



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  1. New England Cocky

    Uhm … as I remember the details of the name change from “Country Party” to “National$” … it came about because some unelected political hack decided that agriculture was obviously declining and becoming disinterested in politics. So it was necessary to provide a fresh name that could be inclusive of anybody who did not want to be Liabral.

    At the about 1976 Annual Conference in Armidale NSW, about 600 delegates debated this name change motion that was then passed. As the delegates departed about 300/600 resigned for the National$. Since then in local elections, supporters of the National$ have been unable to staff their polling booths from local supporters and have often used PAID city-based Liarbral supporters at pre-poll booths. Then recently we have witnessed the influx of rainbow delegates spilling over from the Liarbral Party, being parachuted into regional electorates and becoming elected members.

  2. Doug Young

    I’m reminded me the line ‘why vote, it only encourages them’

    IMO, what is really needed as a matter of priority is a field on all ballot papers


    This would provide an opportunity for those who actually think about what they are electing to object to the whole crooked process rather than (at best) turfing out one tribe of proven incompetents and hoping that the clowns who get up are at least a tad better than the last lot. Rejecting all party hacks and sending a message that none of those on offer are acceptable just might resonate with all parties.

  3. Graham

    When I moved electorates about 12 years ago the State Electoral Commission simply moved me onto the new electoral roll. Not so the Feds: they wanted my driver’s licence number.
    I asked why.
    They said in order to prove my identity.
    I asked how my driver’s licence number would do that since the Feds did not have any lawful right to access the State Transport Department database to confirm person named X had that driver’s licence number and lived at place Y.
    They said they did. I said prove it. They didn’t reply. I was not on the roll for the next federal election.
    They asked me again a couple of years later.
    I said if I have a fake identity, am I not going to have documentation to support that identity – like a driver’s licence in that name?
    They didn’t reply.
    I wasn’t on the electoral roll for the next election either.
    They finally gave up and put me on the electoral roll.
    They still don’t know if I am who I have been saying I am for the past 60 years

  4. Doug Young

    The electoral commission has never been a home for Rhodes Scholars, but then neither is politics or the bureaucracy. Rather they are are places where clowns who are otherwise unemployable find a source of income. Unfortunately there are a lot of psychopaths and other mental misfits with authority they should not have.

  5. Babyjewels

    That photo of Newman chills my blood.

  6. Doug Young

    Newman certainly is a nightmare, but then so is that slimeball Nicholls and he has managed to hold onto his seat. At least Noddy is past tense.

  7. Terence Mills

    I think we would all be surprised at how many people fail to vote because it is contrary to their religious beliefs : many religions are opposed to masturbation and many religious people believe that politicians are wankers, hence an excuse not to vote.

    Under s 245(14) of the Electoral Act or s 45(13A) of the Referendum Act the fact that an elector believes it to be a part of his or her religious duty to abstain from voting constitutes a valid and sufficient reason for not voting.

  8. Doug Young

    I’m not so much opposed to voting as such, but rather the utterly farcical system that purports to be about who we choose to elect when in reality its much more about what we DON’T want, ie getting rid of a bunch of dysfunctional f*ckwits who are clearly directed by entities other than their constituents.

    Given that all politicians of all persuasions have demonstrated they are heavily controlled by the bureaucracy and big business, I believe I have the right to say ENOUGH, I don’t trust ANY of the candidates or the parties I’ve been given to choose from.

    Our existing system doesn’t do that. Note that I see a massive difference between a donkey vote and saying F off the whole miserable mob, and the parties must dish up some vastly superior candidates than the miserable failures on offer.

    IMO, a NONE OF THE ABOVE option would show conclusively that we reject the whole voting for f*ckwits racket. On the other hand, the establishment clearly views the electorate as a necessary evil that needs to be hoodwinked into believing in the myth of democracy, something that probably never existed.

    And yes I have proposed the NONE OF THE ABOVE option be included, multiple times in fact, but without once receiving any indication that the establishment is prepared to consider it.

  9. Andrew J. Smith

    When enrolling last year was surprised to see on form that British subjects enrolled before ’83, remain on the rolls, without citizenship?

  10. Geoff Andrews

    I think the main reason for the change in the demographics of the country electorates was the drift of the workers to the cities. Where cattle & sheep stations might have employed 10 ringers, they could get by with 5 plus motorbikes and, later, helicopters.

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