LNP candidate Kerri-Anne Dooley among how-to-vote card vendors at the Redcliffe by-election. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
The Queensland Opposition may have lent its support to a government proposal, before the government even proposed it.
The devil is always in the detail, but in a January 2013 submission to the government about its proposed changes to the Electoral Act, Queensland Labor noted the “deep reticence” many electors feel at the need to “run the gauntlet of large numbers of party volunteers insisting how-to-vote cards on them as they approach a polling place”.
The submission recommended a “blanket ban of the distribution of political material seeking to influence the casting of votes in all public places for the whole of election day”.
“Queensland Labor further proposes that registered how-to-vote cards be reasonably displayed in each voting cubicle/stall provided in polling places as well as be permitted to be displayed on prominent signage in the area of the approach to the designated entrance doorway of each polling place,” it continued.
The government did not take up Labor on its recommendation when it released its Green Paper on proposed changes to the Electoral Act last year.
But it is remarkably similar to what the government is considering doing now, following Electoral Commissioner Walter van der Merwe’s report into behaviour at the Redcliffe byelection poll.
“We’re having a discussion with Queenslanders – it is not about getting rid of how-to-vote cards, it is about saying there might be a better way to do it,” Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said.
“How-to-vote cards might be displayed in the polling stations themselves by every candidate, there could be party officials making sure signage stays up and the how-to-vote cards are not defaced and that people can still be guided on the day on how to vote.
“Our proposition is get rid of the canvassers so people don’t have to run the gauntlet and be harassed and potentially intimidated and have these things thrown in their face.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk had expressed concern about “a raft of changes to our electoral laws that we are going to see in the coming months”, but prefaced her comments with “we need to see the fine detail in relation to this”.
On Wednesday night, a spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said the Opposition “would look at the proposal in detail” before commenting further.
But it gave Mr Bleijie a chance to say his favoured line for describing the Opposition, “that they are consistent in their inconsistency”.
“This government is having a conversation with Queenslanders, the people of Queensland know what they get with us, we are upfront with Queensland,” Mr Bleijie said.
“No one can trust the Opposition because they are so inconsistent with their position.”