ELECTORAL ENQUIRY GROUP
BACKGROUND INFORMATION SHEET
It is now some time since the Commonwealth Government announced that the states would no longer be required to keep separate electoral rolls. To avoid duplication the Commonwealth would keep the rolls in association with, and [with] the co-operation of, the various state governments. This would save costs and lead to greater efficiency, and the average Australian was no doubt pleased with the prospect.
Many are now feeling however that there may have been an ulterior motive for the change. Disquiet after the last Federal election at the state of the rolls and the election process led to a Parliamentary enquiry in Canberra which reported some serious anomalies and deficiencies in the system. No action however resulted from the enquiry (as may have been expected by some, given the party in control of the government) and the referendum later revealed even worse deficiencies and anomalies despite the strong anti-government vote.
The NSW [New South Wales] election of the Greiner [Liberal-National] government gave rise to further more serious charges in relation to the election system, and though no comment or news of the subsequent NSW parliamentary enquiry was ever published in W.A. newspapers, the Australian carried a report that Mr Greiner was considering amending the Electoral Act to include penalties of $10,000 and/or six months jail for persons multiple voting, etc, in NSW. There was proved to have been 1,100 multiple voters in the election and one man was known to have voted 15 times in the Balmain electorate. It is believed that the Liberal Government actually received much more than the 52% with which it won the election.
The West Australian election announced on January 6th and held on February 4th 1989 has led to startling claims after the Dowding government was announced to have been returned with a majority of five seats, even though some of the Labor seats were declared as probably lost on the Saturday night of the poll. People around the nation were staggered that the government could possibly be returned after the stories of supposed corruption and definite mismanagement had been published around the nation's press. Considerably more than the Bond-government controlled media had published in W.A.!
In October, 1988, David Patton, a NSW businessman who had taken part in the uncovering of the NSW election fraud, and had monitored the Victorian election and been convinced that the same actions were taking place in that state, contacted Mr Neil Oliver, MLC, and advised him that he assumed the same type of activities would take place in W.A. Being forewarned, Neil took certain steps to check the system. As a result of what he learned, including the fact that requesting the W.A. Electoral office to clean up the rolls before an election (and told not to worry about it, everything would be in order), he undertook direct mailings which showed the huge deficiencies or manipulation in place. Others, including Mrs M. L. Wordsworth, Liberal candidate for Balcatta, have boxes of returned mailings showing "Not at this address" and similar postal markings.
Following the election results, a team of volunteer workers, amounting at times to 40 people, spent in excess of 10,000 man-hours first in the Electoral Office and then in private quarters, scanning rolls, cross checking and marking, and checking the returned envelopes against the votes cast. For five Sundays in a row, up to 40 people as a team, went out knocking on doors and checking with residents against the marked rolls of the returning officers.
THE RESULT WAS THE ISSUE OF WRITS FOR SIX SEATS AT THE RECENT ELECTIONS! The writs were sought to be set aside by the Labor party, but Judge Pidgeon sitting as a Court of Disputed Returns has ruled that there is clearly a case to answer and that the writs should stand and proceed to court.
Some evidence such as a welfare worker registering false voters in the weeks prior to the election must also come before the courts. It is undoubted that other seats could have been challenged and included in the writs. But time required of volunteers and the huge costs involved in taking the matters to court have precluded this from being considered. Some investigations will no longer be possible because the marked rolls for the electorates involved have been destroyed.
It is imperative that the election system in W.A., and indeed the Commonwealth, must be restored to a standard achievable only in a democratic society.
Along with the cleansing of the rolls must be the de-politicisation of the Electoral Department. On the resignation of the Chief Electoral Officer in W.A. in 1987, the new appointee was Mr Les Smith. He had previously worked as a Special Projects Officer for Premier Brian Burke in the Department of Premier and Cabinet. On the subsequent resignation of the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, he was replaced by Mr Charles Walker, another appointee from outside the Electoral Office but also from the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He had previously served the Cain Labor Government in Victoria.
Urgent Stop Press: Information to hand (25/8/89) suggests massive fraud also in Tasmanian elections which placed Labor and Greens in position of power in that state. So far, 5,000 votes have been isolated as spurious, and the rolls checked show more than 26,000 [more] names on the rolls than the ABS [Australian Bureau of Statistics] statistics allow.
(This leaflet is dated November 1990; I don't believe I was given one at the time.)
Electoral Inquiry Group
Disturbing indeed has been the inaction over the Court proceedings relating to the writs issued for the result of the February 1988 [ought to have been 1989] State Election.
(I received the leaflet that follows on 30 December 1991)
QUESTIONS TO THE LIBERAL PARTY STATE COUNCILFollowing the February 4th 1989 State Election, 6 writs were issued by persons associated with the Liberal Party for the seats of Swan Hills, Dianella, Perth, Murray, Wanneroo and Whitfords.
Three of these writs, Dianella, Murray and Perth were withdrawn. The matter of irregularities for Whitfords and Wanneroo, and the irregularities relating to Swan Hills were also active. These matters were under the legal direction of the Hon. Peter Foss and lawyer Mr (now Judge) Peter Blaxell from their inception.
In view of the possibility that these three seats would have been won by the Liberal Party in the political climate of late 1989, why were these matters not actively pursued to bring about a change of government without the expense of a State Election?
It is a fact that the Liberal Party hierarchy have effectively blocked any action into these writs.
Why was the matter of the 'Sausage Sizzle' not pursued vigorously when every legal opinion sought brought forth the belief that the cases were watertight and would lead to the Labor candidates (Beggs and Watkins) not only being set aside from the seats but also becoming ineligible to sit in parliament for two years?
Why was no support forthcoming for the Electoral Enquiry Group who claim to have spent in excess of 20,000 man/hours proving the claims?
Why did the Hon. Peter Foss take 118 days to sign an order for papers to be delivered to the Enquiry Group after Judge Pidgeon had ruled that they be delivered up within 14 days? This meant that the investigations were not completed until the time available for Police action had expired.
Is the Liberal Party aware that nowhere else in the nation and possibly the western world is it possible to carry out the checks that were made on this election, and that changes to the Electoral Acts of the other states have made such a check impossible?
It is known that the Enquiry Group finally went to the Police who advised that the matters relating to Election results are 'statute-barred' after 12 months and the matters would have to be pursued at great expense through the Court of Disputed Returns. Why did the Hon. Peter Foss and Mr (now Judge) Peter Blaxell not advise the Enquiry Group that the matters would be 'statute-barred' unless they took them to the Police in the first twelve months?
Will the Liberal Party confer with the Electoral Enquiry Group to discuss amendments to the Electoral Act to further safeguard the democratic electoral process in W.A.?
ELECTORAL FRAUD Public Meeting to hear Mr Charles Copeman of the H.S.Chapman Society, Wednesday 2nd May 2001, at 7.30 pm sharp, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Junior Training Room, Australia II Drive, CRAWLEY (a Perth suburb on the Swan River), organised by the Council for the National Interest (CNI), GPO Box K 845, Perth WA 6842, Tel 08 9321 1925, Fax 08 9321 1798.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: A formerly missing document was supplied by Mrs Eileen Bennett, Perth.