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Should politicians decide who gets to vote for them?

Right now, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and his Liberal National Party colleagues are considering new laws that would mean Queenslanders would be required to show ID when they vote. In theory, this doesn't sound like such a bad idea. But in practice, it's a disaster.

The changes will discourage people from voting and they'll disproportionately affect some of society's most vulnerable. The elderly, young, Indigenous Australians, those living with a disability, those experiencing homelessness and those who live in remote communities or just move house frequently. One-third of Indigenous Australians don't have a birth certificate. Two out of three don't have a drivers' licence.

The Attorney-General claims that the changes are to address voter impersonation. When he was first considering these laws his own department stated: "...there is no specific evidence of electoral fraud in this area, [and] introduction of proof of identity requirements could be considered a disproportionate response."

The head of the Electoral Commission of Queensland - the body that oversees elections - recently told MPs that at the last state election only one person was referred to the Police for voting more than once.

Research suggests that on the whole the people less likely to rock up to the polling booths with the approved ID – including young Australians, those who are homeless, elderly and Indigenous – are also those less likely to vote for the side of politics pushing this agenda.

But that's not all they're up to.

Newman and his colleagues are trying to introduce some rather creative new election financing laws. The changes will make it easier for corporations and wealthy individuals to anonymously donate big money to political parties and candidates – up to $1 million without having to declare it to anyone. They will also make it harder for minor parties and independent candidates to run.


Premier Campbell Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie:

We urge you to work to build a more free and fair democracy. A free and fair democracy in which as many Queenslanders as possible can vote. A free and fair democracy in which Queenslanders get what they vote for. A free and fair democracy in which our representatives are encouraged to put our interests first.

We urge you to not enact changes that would make it harder for people to cast their vote, including voter ID laws, and to put a stop to changes that would leave the system more murky, closed and vulnerable to corruption.

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