Activist group GetUp! had a big win in the High Court today, which will allow thousands of people who enrolled after the writs for the election to vote on 21 August. The reasons are yet to be announced, but the best analysis so far is this Inside Story article by election law expert Graeme Orr.
While I am not generally a fan of constitutionalised rights protection, I don’t see a major difficulty with very specific protections of basic political institutions such as the right to vote. As the sorry saga of the previous government’s 2006 amendments to electoral law – including the early closing of the roll and the political expenditure laws I have criticised many times – indicates, the temptation to use election regulation for political advantage is just too great for politicians to resist.
I’m not normally a fan of GetUp!, but they deserve credit for backing this case.
11 thoughts on “High Court defends right to vote”
I was very disappointed when I heard that. I don’t know what the basis of the decision is yet, of course, and I certainly agree closing the roles on the day its announced is a bad idea, but I am sure that the High Court being as creative as they must be to make this decision will be increasingly bad for their impartiality in the future. I do not want to end up with a Court as politicised as the American Supreme Court.
They have been reading in defences of the democratic system for a long time now. As I think that some of the more draconian attacks on political freedom planned via political expenditure laws might be worth a challenge, I will read this judgment with great interest when it is published.
Of course the activist High Court sided with the activist GetUP! Group. Expect more corruption on polling day. The reason Howard was for boundary dates is because some lefties are intent on voting more than once. Voter fraud is real.
Also, expect Labor member to dress up as Family First voters like they did in SA with their fake how-to-vote cards.
Given how much of the HC have been recent appointments I think it is too early to describe it as “activist” a la the Mason Court. Besides, they haven’t published their reasons yet.
The irony is that the activists think this 100,000 (or whatever) are 18 year olds who will now all register and vote Greens, whereas the reality is most of them simply cannot be bothered and/or don’t want to register, and will not register despite the HC judgment.
PP – It is people who have registered, but after the close of the rolls.
Ah, I see.
I don’t know what the basis of the decision is yet
The Senate shall be composed of senators for each State, directly chosen by the people of the State, voting, until the Parliament otherwise provides, as one electorate.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth
That’s where they’ve read it in. If you’re a person of the commonwealth you have the right to vote. Any arbitrary interference on that is therefore unconstitutional.
The two sections you have just quoted – ss. 7 and 24 – are balanced by ss. 8 and 30, which in conjunction with s.51(xxxvi) unambiguously give Parliament the power to legislate on who is qualified to vote in federal elections.
s.8:Qualifications of electors (Senate)
The qualification of electors of senators shall be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution, or by the Parliament, as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives.
Section 30 – Qualification of electors (HoR)
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualification of electors of members of the House of Representatives shall be in each State that which is prescribed by the law of the State as the qualification of electors of the more numerous House of Parliament of the State.
“I don’t know what the basis of the decision is yet”
“I am sure that the High Court being as creative as they must be to make this decision”.
What an oxymoron.
“The reason Howard was for boundary dates is because some lefties are intent on voting more than once.”
What a non-sequitur.
Decent policy outcome, terrible decision on the legal merits.
Just as Roach was.