Fix Needed for Privacy Flaw in Electoral Act


Together with my Tasmanian colleagues, we are recruiting members in Tasmania with a view to establishing a branch of the Child Protection Party in Tasmania.

 As part of the processing of an application to register a political party in Tasmania, the Electoral Act 2004 Part 4 Section 45 requires that the names and residential addresses of 100 of our members who support our application be published in all 3 major newspapers in Tasmania.

When the Child Protection Party applied for registration here in SA, we had to provide similar declarations and a list of all members supporting our application. However, when the application was promulgated in our newspapers, the names and addresses of those members were not published. We have been advised by the AEC that when our application for federal registration – currently being assessed by the AEC – is published in the media, the 500 members supporting our application will not have their personal details published.

We are also working towards establishing branches in all other states and territories. To that end, we have been investigating the requirements for registration across the nation. It seems that none of the other states or territories publishes members names and addresses.

It is disturbing that Tasmania appears alone in requiring members to have their names and residential addresses published.

This concerns the Child Protection Party for the following reasons:

  • The Tasmanian Electoral Act 2004 Part 4 Section 45 appears to be in direct conflict with the UN Convention on Human Rights (UNHCR) to which Australia is a signatory.
  • Child protection operates in closed courts, mandatory reporters are anonymous and the privacy of parents and their children is maintained.
  • Many Australians have suffered because of domestic violence and many have restraining orders against the abusive partner. The AEC protects such people by allowing them Silent Voter status. Although we do not yet have sufficient numbers to apply for registration in Tasmania and none of our Tasmanian members has Silent Voter status, in reaching the number of members required for registration, we may well recruit members with Silent Voter status.

Publication of the names and addresses of members supporting the application:

  • is an abrogation of a person’s rights under the UNHCR;
  • removes the anonymity granted to those affected by the child protection system in Tasmania;
  • endangers the safety of party members who have been granted Silent Voter status by the AEC– a completely unacceptable state of affairs.

The Electoral Act 2004 was under review by the Department of Justice in 2018.  We, therefore, asked that, when amendments were being considered, the Tasmanian government must include the removal of the requirement for the TEC to publish the names and addresses of the party members supporting the party’s application for registration. This change would require the amendment of Part 4, Section 45(2)(a) to read:

(a) include the particulars referred to in section 44(1)(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e); and 

Such a change would remove the risks outlined above.

The Party received acknowledgements from the Attorney-General and Shadow Attorney-General Despite confirming that they had received our email. The Party was never asked to provide a formal submission, nor were we advised that submissions were being sought from any external agency or the public and we were unable to find any such request of the Tasmanian government website.

The 2004 Act appears to still be in force which means that vulnerable members of any party seeking registration in Tasmania remain at unnecessary risk, one that appears to be very easily resolvable.

(Source)


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