Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington

New laws spark vote-rigging claims

PRISONERS serving time behind bars will be allowed to vote in local and state government elections under a major shake-up of Queensland's electoral system.

The State Government has introduced laws that will give prisoners the right to vote if they are serving sentences of less than three years.

The Opposition has already seized on the legislation, which is yet to pass Parliament, accusing the Government of putting criminals' rights before victims.

But the Government insists the move will simply bring Queensland in line with the rest of the country and follows the High Court decision of Roach v Electoral Commission from 2007.

"If the LNP believes Queensland should remain out of step with the rest of the country, they are welcome to provide their feedback during the committee process," a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said.

"Queensland is currently the only jurisdiction to not allow prisoners to vote."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Government's use of the High Court decision to justify the changes showed how desperate Labor was to rig elections.

"Criminals who commit ­serious offences should lose their right to vote and have a say on the running of the state," she said.

"Instead of focusing on the economy, jobs and congestion, (Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would) rather look after prisoners."

Currently, all Queensland prisoners are barred from voting in local and state elections, but those serving sentences of less than three years can vote in federal elections and referendums.

It remains unclear how many prisoners will be affected by the changes, but the latest custodial snapshot showed there were at least 9000 people serving time behind bars on a range of sentences.

The Electoral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 also involves the implementation of recommendations from the Crime and Corruption Commission's Operation Belcarra report.

The Bill will also allow Queenslanders to learn the outcome of elections sooner, with postal votes to be organised for counting on polling day.

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