Legal matters

A look at a proposed electoral law overhaul that focuses largely on issues of specific concern to the Coalition.

The government introduced four electoral reform bills to parliament yesterday. Antony Green offers a good overview that notes what’s missing from the recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ inquiry into the 2019 election: the particularly contentions measures of voter identification and optional preferential voting, and arrangements for handling an election during the pandemic, which will presumably have to follow at a later time.

To summarise:

• The most striking is a bill to triple the number of members required of a registered political party to 1500 and to disallow the registration of parties whose names contain, with limited exceptions, words already used in the name of a pre-existing party. The former requirement does not affect the significant exception that exists for parties with seats in parliament, as applies to Katter’s Australian Party, the Centre Alliance and the Jacqui Lambie Network (Antony Green notes it also helped Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party to both register and blag free ABC air time before the last election, not that this proved notably helpful to them). Parties will have three months after the passage of the bill to either pass muster or face deregistration, in which case they will not be identified on ballot papers or eligible for public funding. This would appear to be one in the eye for the Liberal Democrats, who this week confirmed Campbell Newman as their Senate candidate in Queensland.

• A bill encompassing “counting, scrutiny and operational efficiencies” gives effect to JSCEM’s recommendation that the pre-poll voting period should be cut from three weeks to two, which the Coalition, Labor and Greens members were all on board with. It also allows for pre-poll votes to be pre-processed in the two hours before polls close so the actual counting of the votes can begin without delay, which should address an issue of recent election nights in which election day booths are mostly in by 8pm but pre-poll voting centres often aren’t until 11pm to midnight. Similarly, the bill allows for postal votes to be pre-processed so more of them can be counted on Sunday.

• An “electoral offences and preventing multiple voting” bill includes a measure to prevent those suspected of multiple voting from persisting in doing so, and one to target behaviour the Liberal Party has complained of being subjected to by GetUp! activists, specifically “violence, obscene or discriminatory abuse, property damage and harassment or stalking”. Former electoral administrator Michael Maley wonders if the latter measure might capture heckling or asking difficult questions; electoral law expert Graham Orr notes it brings the activities of FriendlyJordies to mind.

• A bill to lower the threshold for which third parties campaigning at elections will have to register as political campaigners, requiring them to file annual financial disclosure returns. The current six-figure threshold does seem on the high side, but the cause of “public confidence in Australia’s political processes” would surely be better served by lowering the threshold for declaring donations to political parties.

Other news:

• The Australian Electoral Commission has published the full panoply of reports and data relevant to the now finalised federal redistributions of Victoria and Western Australia. Antony Green has worked his estimated margins into a finalised 2022 federal election pendulum.

• Rachel Siewert, Greens Senator for Western Australia, announced on social media this week that she will resign her position in the Senate next month. This will allow the party’s preselected lead Senate candidate, Dorinda Cox, to build her profile ahead of next year’s election, a common practice for the Greens.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

3,209 comments on “Legal matters”

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  1. kezza2
    Only going on this comment
    Different sides of the same coin.

    In the West, women are (mostly) still regarded as sex objects. The solution in the West is to maximise the titillation, and thereby reduce status. Just check your nearest billboard.

    In Afghanistan, women are (mostly) still regarded as sex objects. The solution in Afghanistan is to minimise the titillation, and thereby reduce status. Just check the public stonings.

    On both sides of the coin, women’s achievements are minimised.

  2. Gippslander
    I assume you are from over that way ?
    Have a weeks leave coming up and have pulled the pin on the Qld holiday.
    Don’t know that part of the state at all but plan to spend 4 or 5 nights away.
    Any recommendations on good spots to visit ?
    Will check out the desal plant and go from there. Not as far as Mallacoota though.
    Will be taking fishing rods, surfboard and golf sticks.
    Thinking Port Albert, Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance at this stage.

  3. I sometimes went on a bloke’s blog, here in Australia.

    It was a men’s forum. At the time I was, and still am, fighting for men to see their children, after separation. But in a safe way.

    But, I expressed dismay at the way they treated women.

    The response: If they ever found out who I was, I was going to be “gouged out” through my vagina, with a drill. And other fantastic scenarios.

    They’re scary. Because they’re angry.

  4. In the end, I think it is only men who are going to convince men to be men; and to help them to be men; to understand, that just like women, when it doesn’t work out, the best thing is to separate, and to share the upbringing of the children.

    If only we could bring that together.

    I don’t hold out much hope.

  5. Socrates @ #3180 Tuesday, August 17th, 2021 – 10:46 pm

    Katy Gallagher just posted on Facebook that her young daughter Evie tested positive to Covid in Canberra today (one of the 17) and is feeling unwell. Katy and the rest of the family tested negative but are in quarantine.

    Very sad 🙁

    Oh, that’s terrible news. 🙁

    It’s terrible news for any child, and their parents, not just the one of a Labor Senator either.

    When will people stop being so reckless with other people’s health?

  6. Barney in Tanjung Bunga says:
    Tuesday, August 17, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    The information is only relevant in regards to contract tracing and potential cases.

    Yep. And the fact they have stopped posting indicates they have given up on contact tracing.

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