- Free and Fair Democracy
- 06/03/2014 Make a Comment
- Contributed by: PrincePlanet ( 9 articles in 2014 )
Right now, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his Liberal National Party colleagues are considering new laws that would mean Queenslanders would be required to show ID when they vote. In theory, this doesn't sound like such a bad idea. But in practice, it's a disaster.
The changes will discourage people from voting and they'll disproportionately affect some of society's most vulnerable. The elderly, young, Indigenous Australians, those living with a disability, those experiencing homelessness and those who live in remote communities or just move house frequently. One-third of Indigenous Australians don't have a birth certificate. Two out of three don't have a drivers' licence.
These laws will affect Queensland, but all of us should be wary.
There are already worrying signs that politicians outside of Queensland are keen to lead us down this path. In a speech last year, Federal Director of the Liberal Party, Brian Loughnane, spoke of the need for voter suppression laws. His justification? He had heard lots of 'anecdotal feedback'.
Is voter impersonation a problem
The Attorney-General claims that the changes are to address voter impersonation. When he was first considering these laws his own department stated: "...there is no specific evidence of electoral fraud in this area, [and] introduction of proof of identity requirements could be considered a disproportionate response."
The head of the Electoral Commission of Queensland - the body that oversees elections - recently told MPs that at the last state election only one person was referred to the Police for voting more than once.
What's the real issue?
Research suggests that on the whole the people less likely to rock up to the polling booths with the approved ID – including young Australians, those who are homeless, elderly and Indigenous – are also those less likely to vote for the side of politics pushing this agenda.
But that's not all they're up to.
Newman and his colleagues are trying to introduce some rather creative new election financing laws. The changes will make it easier for corporations and wealthy individuals to anonymously donate big money to political parties and candidates – up to $1 million without having to declare it to anyone. They will also make it harder for minor parties and independent candidates to run.
SPREAD THE WORD!
And share this with as many people as possible! The more people who find out about these laws, the better our chance of stopping them before they get started.