Articles about voting issues in Australia, New Zealand and other nations in Oceania.

New Zealand: ‘Jailhouse lawyer’ Arthur Taylor loses appeal to allow prisoners to vote | New Zealand Herald

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving prisoners has lost an appeal to allow inmates to vote behind bars. Arthur William Taylor, who has spent about 40 years of his life in prison, and prisoners Hinemanu Ngaronoa and Sandra Wilde – brought their cases to the Court of Appeal, arguing it was discriminatory to ban prisoners from voting. The case was originally taken in 2013 by Taylor – a self-described “jailhouse lawyer”. He also sought and won a “declaration of inconsistency” in the High Court, saying a broad-sweeping ban on prisoners’ voting was an unjustified limitation on the right to vote. That decision was upheld on appeal this year, but does not mean Parliament must repeal the ban. Read More

Australia: Political feud erupts between Australia and New Zealand | Associated Press

Like squabbling siblings, New Zealand and Australia have close ties but also a rivalry that can sometimes turn ugly. That tension spilled into politics on Tuesday, when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop accused New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party of conspiring to undermine her government, a claim New Zealand lawmakers said was “false” and “utter nonsense.” The unlikely dispute involved Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s deputy prime minister. Joyce said Monday he’d been advised he was a New Zealand citizen and an Australian court was being asked to determine if he should be kicked out of parliament because Australia’s constitution bans lawmakers from being dual citizens. If Joyce was disqualified, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s center-right government could lose its single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to govern. Read More

Australia: Foreign affairs minister accuses New Zealand opposition of trying to bring down government | The Guardian

Australia and New Zealand have become embroiled in an extraordinary diplomatic spat over claims the New Zealand opposition colluded with the Australian Labor party (ALP) in an attempt “to try and bring down the government”. During a febrile day of politics in both countries, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said New Zealand’s opposition party was threatening the stability of a usually robust partnership between the two nations. She said she would find it “very hard to build trust” if New Zealand’s opposition Labour party were to win the general election in September. Her comments came only 24 hours after it was revealed that Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, held New Zealand citizenship and may be ineligible to sit in parliament under the Australian constitution, which disqualifies dual nationals. Malcolm Turnbull’s government currently commands a majority of one seat in the House of Representatives. Read More

Australia: Deputy Prime Minister Can Claim New Zealand Citizenship. Too Bad for Him. | The New York Times

The citizenship scandal that has roiled Australia’s Parliament threatened to claim its biggest casualty on Monday after the deputy prime minister was revealed by the New Zealand government to be a New Zealander, unbeknown to him. The Australian Constitution prohibits people with dual citizenship from holding seats in the national legislature. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, 50, the leader of the right-leaning National Party, has served in the House of Representatives since 2013, after serving eight years in the Senate. He is also the minister of agriculture, the source of a well-publicized dispute over dogs brought into Australia in 2015 by the actor Johnny Depp. Read More

New Zealand: 60,000 voters could miss out on voting in General Election | New Zealand Herald

Around 60,000 voters could miss out on voting in the September General Election after their enrolment update packs were returned marked “gone no address”. Enrolment update packs were sent to 3.15 million enrolled voters at the end of June to check their details were correctly listed on the electoral roll for the September General Election. Voters whose packs are returned to sender are taken off the electoral roll. “Those voters need to get back on the roll now so their vote will count this election,” chief electoral officer, Alicia Wright said. Read More

Australia: Challenge filed in court to Australian gay marriage ballot | Associated Press

Gay-rights advocates filed a court challenge Thursday to the government’s unusual plan to canvass Australians’ opinion on gay marriage next month, while a retired judge said he would boycott the survey as unacceptable. The mail ballot is not binding, but the conservative government won’t legislate the issue without it. If most Australians say “no,” the government won’t allow Parliament to consider lifting the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage. Lawyers for independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie and marriage equality advocates Shelley Argent and Felicity Marlowe, applied to the High Court for an injunction that would prevent the so-called postal plebiscite from going ahead. “We will be arguing that by going ahead without the authorization of Parliament, the government is acting beyond its power,” lawyer Jonathon Hunyor said. Read More

Australia: Senate blocks government attempt to restore compulsory plebiscite for marriage equality | The Guardian

The government’s attempt to restore the compulsory plebiscite bill has been blocked by the Senate, paving the way for a voluntary postal vote. The plebiscite was to be held on November 25 with the government offering to remove the $15m of public funds for the yes and no cases. On Wednesday morning the government attempted to restore the plebiscite bill to the Senate notice paper. Labor, the Greens and Nick Xenophon Team used their numbers in the Senate to block the attempt to revisit it, with Derryn Hinch voting to allow debate but committing to block the plebiscite. With the compulsory plebiscite rejected again, the government will now attempt to fall back on its Plan B of a voluntary postal ballot to be conducted between 12 September and 15 November. Read More

New Zealand: Another Party Leader in New Zealand Resigns as Campaign Turns Tumultuous | The New York Times

A suddenly tumultuous New Zealand election campaign was rocked by the resignation of another party leader on Wednesday, just over a week after the leader of the country’s largest opposition party also quit. The resignation on Wednesday of Metiria Turei, the Green Party’s co-leader, came after her party surged in the polls following her candid admission last month that she had lied to the government about her living situation while on welfare as a single mother in the 1990s. The revelation stole the political spotlight from the larger Labour Party before the Sept. 23 general election, and started a polarizing conversation in New Zealand about poverty and the challenges of surviving on welfare. But Mrs. Turei’s admissions also led opponents and reporters to dig into her past, prompting more revelations about her living situation while on welfare and the disclosure that she had lied about where she lived in order to cast a vote for a friend seeking office. Read More

Australia: The Electoral Commission is building an app for enrollment, polling info | iTnews

The Australian Electoral Commission is hoping that when it next comes time to vote, citizens will have no difficulty finding a polling station or working out exactly how long they will be waiting. The agency is preparing to develop two mobile applications – one for public usage and the other for its election workforce – to provide better access to its services and information. The public app will allow citizens to check their enrolment status and details of federal, state or local electoral divisions, and use GPS to identify the closest polling station and wait time. … The agency makes no mention of the use of the app for electronic voting, and it remains unlikely that this will change in the short term, as the agency wrestles with aging IT systems that need immediate rectification.  Read More

New Zealand: How Motherhood Became an Election Issue in New Zealand | The Atlantic

A television host’s question on motherhood to the new leader of New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party has prompted a row over gender roles in the country that was the first to give women the right to vote. Jacinda Ardern was elected head of Labour on Tuesday, and at 37 she is the youngest person, and second woman (Helen Clark, the first, was also a prime minister), to lead the party. The headlines about her so far have been enthusiastic. She’s being portrayed as “authentic,” “powerful, composed, and eloquent”—all traits she’ll need when New Zealand votes next month in parliamentary elections. Her party’s poor performance in the polls prompted Andrew Little, its leader, to step down. Ardern, who had been spoken of as a future party leader, ascended to the post almost immediately. But if persuading the electorate that Labour is worth voting for is one battle for Ardern, her other battle was persuading television panelists that her future plans for motherhood was irrelevant to her potential leadership of New Zealand. She and her partner, Clarke Gayford, don’t have children, and Ardern has previously discussed how wanting children has made her think about her professional choices. But the questions about parenthood began a few hours after her election Tuesday as Labour’s leader.   Read More