Electoral Commission of Queensland Report on Inquiry into the Redcliffe by-election 2014

Activity occurred prior to the current government.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) recently completed an inquiry into the way February’s Redcliffe by-election was conducted after a number of complaints about the activity of political supporters at polling booths on the day of the by-election were received and reported in the media.

On 24 April 2014, the Attorney-General tabled the final report on this inquiry (the Report). A copy of the Report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 24 April 2014 and can be viewed on the Queensland Parliament website.

The Report identifies three issues in relation to the by-election: overt intimidating and obstructive behaviour towards the public and election staff; excessive displays of political statements and the manner and time in which those statements were erected and displayed; and the conduct and number of scrutineers at the Saturday night count.

The Report recommends a number of changes to practices at polling booths during elections and supporting legislative amendments to ensure people do not feel intimidated or harassed when they enter a polling place.

The Report makes the following nine recommendations for legislative amendments to better regulate the activity of political support groups at, and around polling booths:

  • giving the ECQ discretion to include a building’s enclosed grounds as part of a polling booth in order to regulate canvassing;
  • creating an offence for conduct that may obstruct or hinder a person entering or approaching a polling booth;
  • authorising ECQ officers to give reasonable and lawful directions in relation to the regulation of areas around polling booths, such as to clear a pathway, stop obstructing or harassing electors or remove unauthorised election material;
  • introducing a general prohibition on the use of loudspeakers which may be heard at a polling booth;
  • restricting the display of election material at a polling booth before 6 am on polling day;
  • that consideration be given to limiting the maximum size of signs and banners that may be displayed at polling booths;
  • that, as well as registered political parties and candidates, third parties must have how-to-vote cards approved by the ECQ and that only a how-to-vote card that has been approved may be distributed for an election;
  • reducing the numbers of scrutineers at polling booths during counting; and
  • prescribing legislatively required scrutineer conduct, including greater clarity around the identification of scrutineers and the rights and restrictions applying to scrutineers in a polling booth.

The Report also identifies business improvement opportunities the ECQ intends to implement, including the introduction of a voluntary code of practice for participants in Queensland elections.

How to make a submission

To assist the Government in its consideration of the Report, the public is invited to comment on the Report and its recommendations. Any other suggestions you have for addressing the concerns raised in the Report would also be welcome.

Public comment is open until 13 June 2014.

Where to send your submission

You may send your submission by email or post.

The email address for submissions is: electoralreform@justice.qld.gov.au.

Alternatively, you can post your submission to:

Electoral Reform
Strategic Policy
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
GPO Box 149
Brisbane QLD 4001

Privacy statement

Any personal information you include in your submission will be collected by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (the Department) for the purpose of undertaking a review of the recommendations in the Report. The Department may contact you for further consultation regarding your submission. Your submission may also be released to other government agencies as part of the consultation process.

Submissions provided to the Department in relation to the Report will be treated as public documents. This means that they may be published on the Department’s website, together with the name and suburb of each person or entity making a submission. If you would like your submission, or any part of it, to be treated as confidential, please indicate this clearly in the submission. However, please note that all submissions may be subject to disclosure under the Right to Information Act 2009, and access applications for submissions, including those marked confidential, will be determined in accordance with that Act.

Submissions (or information about their content) may also be provided in due course to any parliamentary committee that considers any resulting legislation.