Coalition MPs and senators have called for voter identification laws but Labor has warned such a push would amount to “a pathway to voter suppression”. The recommendation is contained in joint standing committee on electoral matters report on the 2016 election, which also calls for a higher bar to register a minor party and consideration of higher penalties for non-voting and tax deductibility of political donations. The Liberal chair, James McGrath, also used his foreword to the report to launch a stinging attack on GetUp, accusing it of providing “misleading information”. He said this was a “potential contempt of the parliament”, a claim rejected on Wednesday by the Speaker of the House. The Coalition-controlled committee recommended voters be made to verify their identity or their address at polling places by producing documents such as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or utilities bill.
Voters who failed to produce acceptable identification would be required to complete a declaration vote, which requires further details such as date of birth and a signature.
McGrath said it was a “regrettable omission” that Australia did not “treat elections with the same gravity as a visit to a surf club or entering a Brisbane CBD pub after 10pm on a Friday night”, both of which require ID.
He said the reform should be implemented “promptly” to counter “the current mistrust of politicians and the democratic process by the voting public”.