Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan says the Queensland Government wants to scrap compulsory voting in order to stifle debate on public service job cuts. State Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has released a discussion paper on electoral reforms, including making voting at state elections voluntary. Australia is one of only around 20 democracies where voting is compulsory. Mr Swan says the “absolutely stunning” proposal is aimed at stopping voters having a say on the state’s decision to cut around 14,000 public service jobs.
“The Queensland Government is doing everything it can to stop Queenslanders have a say about their cruel cuts, which they never outlined, prior to the next election,” he said.
“They appear determined to stop voters having their say at the ballot box because as I understand it, not only is there a proposition for voluntary voting, there is a proposition to make it harder for Queenslanders to actually go and vote in the first place, irrespective of whether it’s compulsory or voluntary.”
Mr Swan says the proposal harks back to the era of former conservative Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
“These are the tactics of the Tea Party in the United States, trying to stop people from exercising their democratic rights.
“I think that’s what lies at the core of this Joh era-style proposal which has emerged from the Newman Government today.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard also lashed out at the proposal.
“Fight @theqldpremier’s plan to end compulsory voting. Don’t let the Liberals make our democracy the plaything of cashed-up interest groups JG,” she said on Twitter.