Thursday, 17 March 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee
I have, of course, answered questions in relation to this issue several times now. For the benefit of the chamber, let me advise the Senate that Senator Carr is completely incorrect in what he is asserting. The Langer matter related to voting in the House of Representatives, not to voting in the Senate. That is the first mistake that Senator Carr made. Clearly, he was handed something. He has not got a clue what he is talking about. He is just reading some notes that have been handed to him by some apparatchik from the Labor Party. Let's make sure we know what we are talking about.
The Langer matter related to voting in the House of Representatives. Mr Langer proposed a House of Representatives ballot paper with 1, 2, 2, 3, 3. The relevant section of the act dealing with formality of House of Representatives ballot paper is 240. That does not relate to Senate ballot papers. The issue was whether the system of voting proposed by Langer was compliant with section 240, which required consecutive sequential numbering to be used for a formal House of Representatives vote. The act was subsequently amended to overcome the issue raised in the Langer case.
There has been an amendment as a result of a recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters some time ago to remove a certain offence and penalty provision from section 329—I believe that was section 329A—but section 329, dealing with deceptive and misleading conduct seeking to deceive or mislead voters into casting an informal vote, continues to be in place. As the government has said on a number of occasions now, we believe that the prohibitions and penalties in the current section 329 are adequate and that, combined with the education campaign that will be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, voters across Australia will be adequately protected.