Thursday, 17 March 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee
Chairman, I was seeking an answer to a straight question. The committee has considered the question of whether or not a vote 1 above the line is a formal vote, irrespective of the directions issued on a ballot paper, and the advice of the Electoral Commission is that it is, and that is a position I understand the government has actually accepted. My question goes to matters that relate to people arguing in favour of 'just vote 1'. In the Langer case, the High Court found that Mr Albert Langer's campaign for people to just vote 1 was illegal. It was, in fact, a crime for Mr Langer to undertake that course of action, but that relied upon section 329A, which has been removed—that is, it was a crime to promote voting in a way that was inconsistent with section 240. Of course, the proposition that was put at the time was that, if people had access to this information, they might use it and that would be regarded as a criminal offence, but that section has been repealed. I am asking the minister a direct question: is there a replacement section in this amendment bill? And is it a crime for a citizen to promote voting just 1, which of course would be a formal vote?