Electoral Fraud in Western Australia, 1989


    (This leaflet was distributed on 5 September 1989; another version is dated July 1989)

   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.
    Authorised: John Massam, 46 Cobine Way, Greenwood, WA, 6024, Australia.

   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.
    Authorised: John Massam, 46 Cobine Way, Greenwood, WA, 6024, Australia.

    (This leaflet is dated November 1990; I don't believe I was given one at the time.)

Electoral Inquiry Group
BACKGROUND INFORMATION SHEET No. 2                   November 1990

   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.
   Judge Pidgeon sat on the original application on June the 7th and 8th 1989. On June the 28th 1989 he delivered up his judgement that there was a case to answer. Despite the overwhelming preliminary evidence presented, no action was taken to the Court until Mr. Peter Foss, representing the Liberal Party interests, applied to the Court of Disputed Returns on January 18 1990 to withdraw the actions for three of the seats involved -- Perth, Dianella, Murray. As well, the action over the voting irregularities for Whitfords and Wanneroo were to be withdrawn and only the "Sausage Sizzle" was to be at issue in those two electorates.
   The action taken by Mr Foss was apparently on the orders of the Liberal Party, but nobody in the Party seems to want to accept the responsibility for the decision. None of the candidates appear to have been advised of the actions, and were made aware only by the articles appearing in the morning newspaper. Swan Hills was to remain as a case of contention over the matter of voting irregularities because the Liberal candidate, Mr. Oliver, had given no approval for its withdrawal, and the team that worked on this case had done a lot of groundwork in relation to the electorate.
   On January 23rd 1990 Mr. Foss, a Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, appeared in the Court to seek the "delivering up" of the documents for the seat of Swan Hills from the Electoral Commission. This was granted by Judge Pidgeon and an order was made for their deliverance within 14 days. Mr. Oliver and the team were urgently awaiting the papers but, despite the order, no papers were made available until May 21st, 118 days after the Court ruling!
   From May 21st, urgent work was undertaken in the Supreme Court building by Mr. Oliver and a team of willing, eager helpers. A minimum of four, at least, approximately 8 hours a day for 26 days.   1,440 names were listed as worthy of follow-up, being suspected of being of an untrue or invalid nature. These were then checked over four weekends by at least 12 people working from cars throughout the electorate. People questioned were asked to sign a statement, witnessed by the two callers. Most were quite willing to do so. Following the visits, approximately 80 hours were spent compiling records of the investigations.
   Altogether 539 questionable votes were uncovered. At least another 478 were disenfranchised due to the ineffectiveness of the Electoral Office. This suggested that there were probably similar numbers disenfranchised in booths in Kalamunda, Bayswater-Morley, Avon, Moore and Helena. Envelopes from those booths were not available for scrutiny. Possibly up to 600 Swan Hills Electors were denied a vote in this way.
   Nowhere in Australia has it been reported that such a large number of voters have been disenfranchised in this way. Electoral Commission officers may have been hiding such mistakes for years.
   The efficiency of the Electoral Commission has been shown to be clearly questionable. A letter addressed to Neil Oliver from the Commission is dated 8/3/89. Receipt is attached for $20 dated 9/3/89. Postmark on the envelope is 7/3/89 -- two days before the enclosed receipt! And the envelope arrived in the Oliver mail box on 22/3/89.
   Applications for postal votes were sighted showing only the rubber stamp of the Returning Officer for Swan Hills -- no counter signature. Approximately 7 applications from the Aged Person's Home at 44 John Street Midland showed similar witness signatures -- suggesting very strongly there had been canvassing for votes. In the opinion of the Matron, several of these patients were incapable of a valid vote.
   Classic cases suspected of being non-genuine include:
(a) A certain Mr .......... whose address was given as "Caravan Park, West Swan". He voted both ABSENT and POSTAL.
(b) Mr .......... who voted at Wooroloo where the Electoral Officer refused him a ballot paper for Swan Hills and ordered him to vote for Avon -- where his vote would have been marked invalid.
(c) Mr .......... 44 John Street Midland, who was enrolled 28/12/88. On investigation he could not answer questions and Matron confirmed he was incapable at [the] time of [the] election. He supposedly voted postal and was marked off the roll as having voted at Herne Hill! Elderly man since believed deceased.
(d) Mr and Mrs .......... registered to vote at an address in Swan View, Resident advised they owned the house, have never lived there. Voted absent from country town where he has been a school principal for many years.
    Authorised: John Massam, 46 Cobine Way, Greenwood, WA, 6024, Australia.

    (I received the leaflet that follows on 30 December 1991)


   Following 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.?
    Authorised: John Massam, 46 Cobine Way, Greenwood, WA, 6024, Australia.
   Want to help stop electoral fraud? Send $25 subscription to
The H. S. Chapman Society, G.P.O. Box 2391, Sydney, N.S.W., 2001, Australia

   More information about the WA cheating in 1989 may be found in the Hansard (Parliamentary Debates record) for the WA Legislative Council in May 1989, and the WA Legislative Assembly for 25 October 1989.
   The federal Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) inquiry chairperson Mr Christopher Pyne, MHR, about 18 May 2001, gave the news media criticism of the present electoral laws, and spoke of recommendations that identity checks be made of people enrolling, and on election day. The Labor segment on the committee disagreed. (Are you surprised?).
   The cheating was being debated in the Federal Parliament on 20 June 2001! That was 18 years after the 1983 pro-cheating changes to the federal electoral laws under the Bob Hawke government. Labor in Queensland also were cheating in 1986, so badly that when it was exposed there by court convictions and a State inquiry in the year 2000, the Deputy Premier retired to the back bench, and a Labor MLA resigned from parliament.
   You may contact the Electoral Reform Society of Britain and Northern Ireland, which is said to be by far the oldest organisation in the world dealing with this subject, and has links with similar bodies in Australia, at http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

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.

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