From our friends at GetUp…
It was a quiet triumph. In the busy weeks before Christmas 2005, then Special Minister of State – little-known Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz – released new "electoral integrity laws." They barely registered in the press.
Just 18 months later, the laws had their effect: approximately 60,500 Australians had their votes discounted because they didn’t meet the new, unadvertised ID provisions1. Another 90,000 tried to enrol to vote, but missed the shorter, one-day deadline2. Prisoners, too, were excluded from voting.
All up, the laws prevented an estimated 150,000 Australians from voting. Those who were the most likely to miss out were Australians who move house regularly, or don’t have driver licences: the young, the poor and Indigenous people. GetUp members fought back by taking the worst of the laws to the High Court, seeing them declared unconstitutional just in time for the 2010 election.
Right now, it’s happening again – but this time we can intervene early.
This week Queensland’s Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie foreshadowed changes that would:
Wherever you are in Australia, this is your fight. If this plan becomes law in Queensland, it could become the blueprint for a quiet national offensive on the core of our democracy. State and Federal governments could introduce similarly insidious schemes by simply copying the Queensland model. There are now Coalition governments in nearly every state and territory, and if the Coalition wins the federal election this year, Senator Abetz could be even more powerful than he was before.
We’re starting with ads this week in Queensland’s most-read paper, The Courier-Mail. Every extra dollar we raise starts a fund for legal challenges, advertising and whatever else it will take to stop this anti-democracy agenda. Can you help?
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has yet to publicly support the plan. We need to kick off a highly visible public campaign to end this assault on a free and fair democracy before it has a chance to take hold.
That’s why we’ve created these highly visible, hard-hitting ads. We can show Premier Newman that this isn’t just bad for democracy, it could be toxic for him politically. It’s also about showing every leader – anywhere in Australia – that threatening voter rights and changing regulations to allow vast sums of unaccountable money into our politics will invite a swift and fierce public backlash.
62% of Indigenous Australians don’t have a drivers licence4, and 13% are estimated never to have had a birth certificate5. Whatever form of ID (photographic or not) becomes mandatory in order to vote, you can bet Indigenous Australians are less likely to have it.
The Attorney-General’s own discussion paper noted this year:
If it’s not about electoral fraud, what is it about?
Secret donations. Barriers to voting. It’s an assault on our democracy that no one knows is happening.
Click here to put this ad in The Courier-Mail this week, and sound the alarm. http://www.getup.org.au/stand-up-for-democracy
Sam, for the team at GetUp
PS: Queensland’s politicians will already be on the nose with voters this week. They just voted themselves a whopping 41% pay rise, while simultaneously fighting public servants’ right to a 2.2% pay rise. You can’t make this stuff up. Expose this scandal now, and we can stop it in its tracks: click here.
1 Queensland has lead the country on transparency and donations, with $5,300 limits on donations to parties, and disclosure of all donations above $1,000. Now, the Attorney General wants to eliminate limits on donations, and allow donations of up to $12,400 without disclosure (the federal limit). It appears that if a donor gave $12,4000 to each of a party’s candidates 89 candidates, and to the party itself, they could donate $1,111,600 without disclosing a cent to the public.
2 Approx. 60,500 voters cast provisional ballots that were discounted because of the changes to ID requirements and address changes. Estimate based on figures from "2007 Election – Provisional Voting Rejections" Peter Brent, The Australian National University A further 89,000 to 169,000 tried to enrol to vote but missed the new one day cutoff period after the election was called; estimate based on number of voters affected by GetUp’s Rowe vs. Electoral Commissioner case in 2010, according to AEC: "Electoral roll management update 17 October 2011"
3 OSER, Queensland Government, Indigenous Regional Profiles, (Census 2006) Australia, 12 March 2012.
4"Being Nobody – The Difficulties Faced by Aboriginal Victorians in Obtaining Identification" Joel Orenstein
5 Information from a presentation by Kevin Kitson, First Assistant Commissioner, Australian Electoral Commission. ‘Engagement with Remote Indigenous Communities to Improve Service Delivery.’ Regional Managers Local Implementation Forum 2012 on 2 May 2012.
6 "Electoral Reform Discussion Paper," January 2013. Department of Justice and Attorney General.