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Australian expats urged to have say on voting

Published on 07/05/2008

The Southern Cross Group (SCG) is calling upon all expatriated Australians to speak up and tell politicians their views and experiences on expatriate voting as part of a special parliamentary inquiry.

The Australian federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) is presently conducting an inquiry into the conduct of the 2007 Federal Election.  The terms of reference are very broad and any person or organisation may make a submission.  

Current situation

Current Australian electoral law prohibits thousands of expats from exercising their democratic right to vote as Australian citizens.  Section 94A of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 stipulates that those who are not on the electoral roll may only enrol from abroad if it is less than three years since they left Australia to live abroad.  The SCG estimates that around half a million expatriate Australian citizens are disenfranchised due to this limitation.

Anne MacGregor, SCG co-founder in Brussels said, "We hope that many expat Australians will use this opportunity to provide input on these important matters… In the past, a number of amendments to electoral law have come about as a result of JSCEM recommendations following such inquiries.”  

Ways to act

Email submissions directly to the JSCEM using the special mailer facility on the SCG’s website.

You can also send submissions by post to ‘Committee Secretary, Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, Department of House of Representatives, PO Box 6021, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia’.

For more information visit the Southern Cross Group website. The deadline for submissions to the JSCEM is Friday 16 May 2008