Christian Kerr writes:


Stay tuned for a big brawl this afternoon on the recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters inquiry into the conduct of the 2004 election.

Crikey understands the Labor dissenting report prepared by MHRs Michael
Danby and Alan Griffin and Senators Kim Carr and Michael Forshaw is
scathing of the reasons given for Government recommendations to tighten
the electoral
enrolment process.

“We note… that Australia has had no history of electoral fraud,” the
dissenting report says. “The high degree of confidence that Australians
have in the integrity of our electoral system, including the electoral
roll, is shown by the fact that Australia sees almost none of the
claims that elections have been ‘rigged’ or ‘stolen’ that mark
elections in many other countries. Even in circumstances such as the
federal elections of 1990 and 1998, when parties which have won a
majority of the two-party vote have failed to win enough seats to win
government, Australians have accepted these results with complete calm.
We reject any suggestion that regressive changes to Australia’s
electoral system can be justified under the pretext of ‘preventing
electoral fraud’… The Government is undertaking these major changes in
absence of any evidence of electoral fraud. The Committee Majority
itself concedes that ‘to date the Committee has had no evidence to
indicate there has been widespread electoral fraud’ (refer Chapter 5,
paragraph 142 of the Majority Report). We can only conclude that the
real motivation for these recommendations by the Government Majority is
the belief that if implemented they will give the Government some
partisan advantage at future elections.”

Labor warns of “a consistent pattern in some of the recommendations put
forward by the Government Majority on the Committee. This is a tendency
to make it more difficult for Australians to enrol and to vote.”

The Labor Members of the Committee also fiercely criticise proposals to
change the funding disclosure requirements to make donations of up to
$2,000 tax deductible and raise the disclosure threshold to $10,000:

“The case for hidden donations and tax-payer subsidised rebates has not
been made by Majority members. Once again we can only assume that these
recommendations are designed to deliver partisan advantage to the
Liberal
Party.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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