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Bleijie hits back at Wellington over electoral review paper

Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie Cade Mooney

ATTORNEY-GENERAL Jarrod Bleijie has hit out at  Nicklin MP Peter Wellington over his comments on a review of electoral procedures in Queensland.

Mr Wellington was reported yesterday as launching an attack on the LNP green paper on electoral reform, saying its contemplation of an end to compulsory voting was "a desperate attempt to hold on to power" which would lead to vote buying.

He has established an online "E" petition demanding compulsory voting be retained and has called on his constituents to write directly to the Premier on the issue.

Mr Bleijie said it was evident from Mr Wellington's comments that he did not understand the concept of a discussion paper.

"Mr Wellington's misguided views on the reason the Government has released this paper are flat out wrong," Mr Bleijie said.

"When we were elected in March last year, the Newman Government promised an open and accountable government.

"Our electoral reform discussion paper honours that commitment and lets Queenslanders have their say on ways to improve our democracy.

"For their own political purposes, senior Labor figures and others have been quick to jump on one of the issues raised: should voting in Queensland elections be compulsory?

"Interestingly in 2009 those same senior Labor figures released their own discussion paper asking the very same question.

"Our discussion paper canvases the arguments for and against - exactly as a discussion paper is supposed to do.

"These predictable attacks which accuse the government of attempting to deprive Queenslanders of their rights at the ballot box couldn't be further from the truth.

"What could be more democratic than asking Queenslanders to tell us how they think the State should be run?

"It's time to take a fresh look at our electoral system to make sure it meets our high standards of integrity and accountability; that it ensures Queenslanders have their voices heard and that it embodies the community's expectations."

Mr Bleije said the discussion paper released last week covered all facets of the Electoral Act including compulsory voting.

"The paper covers a range of other important issues in our democracy," he said.

"For example: should we require instant disclosure of donations, or in this modern world should people have to go to a polling booth to vote?

"Other topics in the paper include whether elections should be publicly funded, whether there is enough accountability in political advertising and whether we should introduce online voting.

"It would be negligent of the Government to stifle debate on any aspect of the system, something critics will never admit.

"We will engage fully with the community before we even consider implementing reforms, just as we did when we made changes to the way local government is run.

"That's a novel concept in Queensland, especially after almost 20 years of Labor pushing through any changes to electoral laws that their campaign strategists demanded.

"I will not pre-empt the outcome of feedback, and I encourage people to look at all of the important issues contained in this discussion paper.

"I welcome all input and I hope the paper continues to generate public debate - after all, that's exactly why we released it."

Queenslanders can make a submission by going to the Discussion Paper's webpage at www.justice.qld.gov.au.

Submissions close on March 1.

Topics:  jarrod bleijie, peter wellington



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