Libs could challenge poll again

by Chris Griffith
Published 15 January 1996 in The Courier-Mail


my face


The Liberal Party yesterday warned that the Mundingburra by-election result could be challenged in the Court of Disputed Returns, if any bogus entries they found on the new electoral roll were not acted on.

Liberal Party state Director Jim Barron said his party would comb the new Mundingburra roll for irregularities, especially for fraudulent entries among the 800 enrolments since the July 15 state election.

Queensland Electoral Commissioner Des O'Shea said candidates should receive a copy of the new roll today (subs Monday).

But Mr O'Shea said there was nothing unusual about 800 new enrolments in six months. He said the Mundingburra's population was volatile; 20 percent of the electorate changed each year.

He said that apart from the 22 disenfranchised Rwandan soldiers, the Liberal Party had not succeeded in establishing many irregularities in the Court of Disputed Returns.

"It was alleged by the Liberal Party initially that 187 people didn't reside there and that someone voted in their place. Every single case was proven to be wrong," Mr O'Shea said. "I expect a lot of this over the next few weeks."

But Mr O'Shea said the commission would act decisively if fraudulent enrolments were identified.

"If that's the case, up until the close of rolls they're immediately removed.

"After the close of rolls, you'd have to look very closely at what evidence there was before you disenfranchised somebody.

"But clearly if they were not entitled to be enrolled then you'd take some action to prevent them voting."

ALP state secretary Mike Kaiser said it wasn't the ALP's role to check the roll, and he was relaxed about the increase in enrolments of 800.

However former ALP minister and now independent candidate Ken Davies said he was concerned new enrolments were not routinely checked.

He said the Australian Electoral Commission must guarantee that all new voters were genuine, especially given the reasons the by-election was being held.

He said politicians and candidates routinely filled out enrolment forms for new voters during door-knocking sessions -- and it was possible this system could be abused.

The Australian Electoral Commission, which maintains the electoral roll, yesterday confirmed it did not check new enrolments.

The commission's electoral officer for Queensland, Bob Longland, said the AEC relied on reports of irregularities before launching investigations.

Mr Barron said he was already investigating a claim that Department of Transport workers stationed in Townsville for one month and living in caravans had enrolled to vote.

Mr Barron said he had already asked the electoral commission to investigate an allegedly bogus enrolment at Tippett Street, Gulliver, but our inquiries indicated the enrolment was genuine.