ACT News


Canberra MP Andrew Leigh defends how-to-vote card, rejects anti-Islam agenda

Labor MP for Fraser Andrew Leigh isn't even entertaining the thought his preferences might be distributed in Saturday's poll, after it was revealed his how-to-vote card preferences an anti-Islam party above the Greens and the Democrats.

Tuesday's Canberra Times reported that Mr Leigh's instructions for supporters included numbering the Rise Up Australia party third on the ballot paper, behind the Palmer United Party, but ahead of the Democrats, Greens and Bullet Train for Australia.

The Rise Up party is an ultra-nationalist party that wants to fight the ''Islamification'' of Australia.

Despite disagreeing with Rise Up's politics, Labor has preferenced the party in its top four on how-to-vote cards for 15 seats, including Fraser in the ACT.

In a letter to The Canberra Times on Tuesday, Mr Leigh said the major parties' preferences in Fraser were ''irrelevant''.

Mr Leigh said Labor preferences in Fraser had never been distributed since the seat's establishment in 1974, and his how-to-vote card was aimed at making it easier for Labor supporters to lodge a valid ballot paper.


His own preference would be to ''put the Greens above the Liberals, above any party with a racist agenda'', but said instead he opted for the ''simplest'' numbering on his how-to-vote cards to reduce confusion.

His instructions are to number the candidates in the order they appear on the ballot paper, beginning with a ''1'' next to himself, then continuing down the page, before returning to the top of the list to number the remaining candidates.

''The priority for us was formality, to minimise informality rather than to worry about the extremely small chance that Labor preferences would be distributed for the first time in the seat's history,'' Mr Leigh said. ''This isn't the Senate, where there is a good chance that preferences get distributed. This is a house seat, where the race is always between Labor and the Liberals. And Labor and Liberal preferences have never been distributed.

''My concern is that Labor supporters put a one next to my name and then number the other boxes any way they want to, and they can do so in the knowledge that those preferences are extremely unlikely to be distributed.''

Mr Leigh said his record showed that he supported multiculturalism in Australia. He said it would be ''disappointing'' and ''inaccurate'' for voters or other candidates to associate his views with those of the Rise Up Australia party.

When asked how he would feel should his preferences come to be distributed to the Rise Up Australia candidate - however small the chance - Mr Leigh said he wasn't even entertaining the thought.

''I simply think it is near impossible that the Labor preferences would be distributed in Fraser,'' he said.

The Liberal how-to-vote cards for the seat of Fraser give preferences to the Palmer United Party, followed by Bullet Train for Australia, and then Rise Up Australia.

The Greens don't number preferences on their how-to-vote cards, and instead urge voters to choose how they want to order the candidates themselves.


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