Electoral reforms reduce taxpayer party funding

Published Thursday, 22 May, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Jarrod Bleijie

Taxpayer funding for political parties will be slashed under reforms to Queensland’s electoral system passed in Parliament today.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the Government’s reforms would protect and modernise Queensland’s electoral system.

“We promised at the election that we would restore accountability to Government and these reforms clean up electoral amendments, made by Labor in the dying months of its final term, that have cost Queenslanders dearly,” Mr Bleijie said.

“Its reforms resulted in a massive blow out of projected taxpayer funding to $24.3 million over the 2012 - 2015 election cycle.

“Under the Government’s reforms, public party funding will revert back to a dollar amount per vote – a fairer and cheaper system that will save taxpayers $8 million.

“The Government listened during recent consultation and amended the threshold for entitlement to public funding from the proposed 10 per cent to 6 per cent.

“This will ensure genuine independent members and minor parties are not adversely impacted.”

Mr Bleijie said the reforms would modernise, simplify and protect Queensland’s electoral system.

“By thinking outside of the ballot box, Queensland will lead the way with its electoral system,” he said.

“Voting will enter the digital age at the next state election with electronic voting to be made available for voters with disabilities.

“Blind and vision impaired voters will be able to phone in their vote via an electronic assisted voting (EAV) system and physically disadvantaged electors will also be able to cast their vote electronically at selected polling booths.

“We want to make participation in democracy as easy as possible, so we are removing all restrictions for eligibility for postal or pre-poll votes.

“Maintaining the integrity of our electoral system is vital so proof of identity will be required on polling days to prevent voter impersonation.

“We know everyone doesn’t have photo identification, so we’ve included a broad range of acceptable forms of ID.”

They are:

  • Current driver license
  • Current Australian passport
  • Voter identification letter issued by the ECQ
  • Recent account or notice issued by a public utility
  • Identification card issued by the Commonwealth or a State as evidence of the person’s entitlement to a financial benefit (eg a Commonwealth seniors health card, Medicare card, pensioner concession card)

“Voters who do not provide ID when attending a polling booth will be required to make a declaration vote, similar to people who vote outside of their electorate on polling day,” Mr Bleijie said.

Other reforms include:

  • Bringing political spending and donation regulations in line with Federal rules, following Crown Law advice that Labor’s reforms potentially rendered Queensland electoral legislation invalid
  • How-To-Vote cards to be published on the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) website
  • Enabling ECQ to reject a How-To-Vote card if it is deemed misleading 

“These reforms follow extensive public consultation, and more than 250 submissions were received in response to a discussion paper,” Mr Bleijie said.

Mr Bleijie said the Government was considering further reforms recommended by the Electoral Commission Queensland after it identified serious issues following the Redcliffe by-election, including intimidating and obstructive behaviour by canvassers, excessive displays of political statements and the conduct and number of scrutineers at the Saturday night count.

“I encourage people to have their say on this important issue affecting all Queensland voters as well as on a broader issue - the banning of canvassers on polling day,” he said.

Further information, including how to make a submission, can be found online at: http://www.justice.qld.gov.au/corporate/community-consultation/community-consultation-activities/current-activities/electoral-commission-of-queensland-report-on-inquiry-into-the-redcliffe-by-election-2014

[ENDS] 22 May 2014

Media Contact: Ashley McDermid 0412 731 355 or Jaime Wells 0409 624 139