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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3914 ..

Mr Bogey Musidlak

Same-sex marriage postal survey

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.04): Firstly, I would like to join with Mrs Dunne and Mr Steel in expressing my gratitude to Bogey Musidlak for his contribution to our electoral system here in the ACT. I can certainly say that without his contribution I am sure I would not be here today.

However, I will not repeat what the two previous speakers have said. I am going to speak briefly on the non-binding, non-compulsory postal survey on marriage equality, because I have received some concerning information from a constituent today about a system in place for the current marriage survey. I am told this issue is not an isolated incident.

I refer to a couple who have lived at the same place for 28 years, participated in numerous elections during that time and completed several census forms from that address. They took time to ensure that the AEC had the correct details for them on the electoral roll. Realising that they had not received ballot forms as yet, they dutifully contacted the ABS, who advised them that they were listed as having a post office box address. They have not in fact had one for over 30 years and certainly not where they are currently residing, in the electorate of Brindabella. The ABS was unable to change their details. They were advised to contact the ABS again after 25 September to organise a reissue of forms, despite the fact that they have already contacted the ABS and asked for the reissue. What is of equal concern is that their details, when checked with the AEC, did not include a post office box, so one wonders what information was provided by the AEC to the ABS.

This raises serious concerns regarding the system used by the ABS for the current marriage survey—and the system used by the AEC, for that matter. We have people who are committed to ensuring that their voices are heard and who now have to have considerable perseverance to follow through to ensure that they get the opportunity. I am told that this is not isolated.

On top of this, there have been reports in the media, last week and today, about ballot forms lying in the rain and mud. Last week it was about several apartment buildings in inner north Canberra. Yesterday’s Canberra Times tells us it happened in Brunswick, Victoria, as well. I have also received comments from numerous people about multiple forms addressed to previous residents who have not resided there for years, despite them not receiving other mail for these former residents in the recent past. The ABS has also acknowledged that it cannot prevent people filling out other people’s forms.

This appears to be a seriously flawed process. It is bad enough that our federal politicians cannot make up their minds to vote for equality and human rights, but it is an absolute travesty when what is already an unnecessary, divisive and damaging postal survey causes further distress because it is not undertaken with the certainty of professionalism, efficiency, effectiveness, accuracy and integrity. The process is being undermined, and I fear that whatever the result on 15 November it will not be

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