VAN ONSELEN: Are you still confident that they’re going to follow the report’s recommendations though? That was certainly the expectation in the media at the start of the year. Is it a case of ‘this can come later’?
SMITH: As I’ve said it’s not urgent this week or this month, but its vital reform for the future and for the next election because in your state, the Senate ballot paper had 110 boxes. It can’t get any bigger. Literally, they cannot print on a bigger ballot paper. All they can do is reduce the size of the font for the candidates and they’re handing out magnifying sheets. So, that’s where we’re at…
VAN ONSELEN: Are you as cynical as me though, Tony Smith? Do you think…
SMITH: No! Definitely not!
VAN ONSELEN: Well, maybe not generally. But on this specific point… what about on this specific point? I mean it seems to me, and I can understand it—I’m not even that critical of it quite frankly—that perhaps what the Executive are doing is they’re deciding just to shelve this and come back to it at a later date, because they can… because in the meantime they really need to work with some of these smaller parties, in conjunction with Palmer United to try and get the budget through? No harder way to try to achieve that, I wouldn’t have thought, Tony Smith, than to be saying that you’re trying to change the law to get rid of these people at the same time as trying to negotiate with them?
SMITH: I think there’s a range of things, Peter. With electoral changes there’s time, as I said. There are also lots of things in the Senate… so there’s always a bit of a battle to get in there. And we’re going to report on other matters as well in the coming months. We’ve got some hearings coming up in November. There are some other things we’re considering.
VAN ONSELEN: What sort of things?
SMITH: Voter identification. That’s something that we’re considering. The electronic roll we’ve spoken about, would be a great step forward.
VAN ONSELEN: Labor’s opposed to that generally aren’t they? They tend to not like the idea of ID based voting… why do you suspect that is? The altruistic argument is that its because people that may be…the homeless people are marginalised. The more cynical argument is that if you’re looking to stack, or have some sort of fraudulent impact then the last thing you’d want is ID.
SMITH: It’s in our terms of reference; that’s why we’re looking at it. But I’ve long supported a form of voter ID and I’ve never really got to the bottom of why they’re so opposed it. I mean, we have ID in so many forms for so many things… as you’ve pointed out, to hire a DVD or a video. But when it comes to our democratic destiny, we don’t have any at all and I think that’s something that we need to consider. We’re considering it as part of our inquiry. And talking about how we compare with other nations, we’re well behind the rest of the world on that score.
VAN ONSELEN: Yeah and I think it’s bizarre. I’m in your camp on that one. Tony Smith—I appreciate your time as always. Thanks very much.
SMITH: Thanks, Peter.
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