Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (15:41): As we have said before—and this MPI sums it up again—whilst those on the other side have some differences, there is one thing that unites them all: they are all great pretenders. They pretended right through their period in government that the budget did not matter. They pretended they could spend more than they were bringing in. Then they even pretended, as the Prime Minister and the Treasurer pointed out today, that they were back in surplus. And today they continue to pretend.

The Leader of the Opposition has moved this matter of public importance on the budget. It is obviously important to him. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke second. That is a bit of a surprise. We thought the shadow Treasurer might be speaking at some point, but no. The leaders moved this. And there is not a word of concession about Labor's fiscal failure over all those years. They inherited a surplus; they inherited $45 billion in the bank. They spent all of that and then they ran us into an incredible amount of debt over those six years. After forecasting and promising surpluses on more than 500 occasions, when they did not get there they just pretended they were there. The Leader of the Opposition—and all of them—told the electorate that we were back in surplus when we were not. This is the gall of those opposite. And now that they are in opposition, they are voting against every attempt to fix their mess. They are not only voting against our proposals; they are voting against their own. They are voting against $5 billion worth of savings that they announced and announced they would legislate. So they do not just vote against our budget; they vote against their own when they are in opposition. This takes some gall.

Those opposite have a united position on forgetting their period in office. From 8 September, they have forgotten everything they did. It goes right through their approach to policy. Not only did they predict a surplus and then promise they had a surplus when none existed, on so many other policy measures they have done the same thing. The shadow Treasurer, who is not here, of course, is the architect of their alternative budget. What a wonderful track record from the shadow Treasurer! During his time in government—he actually started back in 2007 as the Assistant Treasurer—he established Fuelwatch and he established GroceryWatch.

Mr Sukkar: How did that go?

Mr TONY SMITH: Well, he became the fool of Fuelwatch; he became the goose of GroceryWatch. Then he went on, in the 2009 budget, to wipe out employee share ownership in this country.

Swannie gets a lot of blame for a lot of things—and so he should. But I know for a fact that this is one measure he left in the hands of the then Assistant Treasurer. He left him with one revenue measure, and he snap-froze employee share ownership in this country. Then, earlier this year, as the architect of the destruction of employee share ownership, he had the gall to welcome our restoration of what he wrecked, and not only that, but to say:

… Labor of course welcomes the … decision to ease restrictions on employee share schemes—

his restrictions that he implemented! And then he went on to say:

In March, Labor called for changes to … better support new ideas and innovation and we are pleased the Government has listened—

pleased the government has listened to a call he made to reverse a disastrous policy change he implemented when in government. What utter hypocrisy and falsehood!

He changed from Assistant Treasurer to immigration minister, as we well know. But then, if he felt any sense of guilt at all for his employee share debacle, you would think he would have rectified it at the first opportunity—which is not now, as shadow Treasurer; it was when he became Treasurer. You would have thought it would have been one of the first things he did when he became Treasurer under the former member for Griffith. But, no; this MPI from the Leader of the Opposition and from those opposite is another exercise in pretending—pretending they never wrecked the budget; pretending it does not matter. And in opposition they will go on pretending just as they did in government, but what they will not ever do is to offer a solution to Australia's problems.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (16:10): Yesterday the Casey Electorate paid tribute to a local Anzac, JD Burns, who had grown up the Lilydale electorate. He joined up in February 1915, arrived in Gallipoli in September 1915 and was tragically killed a few weeks later. His father was the local Presbyterian minister. He had attended Scotch College and excelled. He wrote a poem about the cause of the First World War and what it entailed, calledFor England, that became world-renowned. His death at the time was a huge blow to the local Lilydale community.

With the assistance of a Centenary of Anzac grant, a plaque was unveiled at the Lilydale cenotaph yesterday afternoon. On behalf of the local Centenary of Anzac committee that I have worked so closely with, I pay tribute to them and to the local historical groups who helped bring this about.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:28): I join in speaking on the Australian War Memorial Amendment Bill 2014 and supporting the very important measures in it to ensure that there are no parking fees at the War Memorial. I want to very briefly associate myself with the remarks of members on this side who have spoken on this bill.

The War Memorial is one of Australia's foremost institutions. It has the names of 102,000 Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice. My friend and colleague the minister and I have spoken about this in the centenary of Anzac. The memorial bears the names that are on all the cenotaphs in all the local towns in my electorate down in the Yarra Valley, and in the towns of the minister's electorate in Queensland. Over these four years it is going to be a focus like never before, with school groups going to the War Memorial and looking up the names that they have seen on their local honour boards. This bill is an important bill. It is one that was foreshadowed some years back by our Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Senator Ronaldson, when he was the opposition spokesman—he carried it through in a clear policy prior to the last election. It has my strong support that we are dealing with that today.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:41): Last Sunday was a very special day for the Italian community in my electorate of Casey. The Yarra Valley Italian Cultural Group organised an event to both commemorate and celebrate some history. They met with large numbers from the community at the Lilydale cemetery, where they had a service and unveiled plaques for four Italians who had come to the Yarra Valley many decades ago and tragically died working in the Yarra Valley. They included workers who had worked on the Silvan Dam in the 1920s.

In doing so, they also wanted to celebrate the contribution of the Italian community to the Yarra Valley over all the decades. It is well known that many Italians came to the Yarra Valley, as they did to other parts of Australia, in the postwar years. They wanted to tell that story, but also the story that is not so well known of the contribution from the 1880s until today. In telling those stories, they have reminded everyone in the community of the wonderful contribution made to the Yarra Valley and the wonderful contribution that, we all know, will be made in the decades ahead.

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (12:01): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, I present the committee's second interim report on the inquiry into the conduct of the 2013 federal election and assessment of electronic voting options.

In accordance with standing order 39(e) the report was made a parliamentary paper.

Mr TONY SMITH: by leave—Our voting system has changed and evolved over the 113 years since the first federal election in March 1901. But one thing has remained a constant from the election of the first parliament to that of the 44th last September. We still vote with a pencil on a paper ballot that is then manually counted.

In recent decades some democracies have moved to a form of electronic voting. The USA has electronic voting machines in many states and Estonia offers electronic voting over the internet.

While one system requires you to still visit a polling booth and the other offers online convenience, advocates argue that both offer faster and potentially more accurate results.

With the close of polls the results are known within minutes rather than hours, days and weeks and arguably without the human error that occurs in the long paper ballot count.

Many think it sounds like a good idea for the next federal election. No matter your view, this is not feasible.

Even the most ardent electronic voting advocates must recognise that in logistical terms it would be impossible for our electoral authorities to roll it out next polling day, which is less than two years away—at the latest.

But what about future elections?

I once simply assumed so, but that was before I had given it a lot of thought.

After hearing from a range of experts and surveying the international electoral landscape, it is clear to me and the rest of the committee that Australia is not in a position to introduce any large-scale system of electronic voting in the near future without catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity.

Transcript of interview with Steve Price & Andrew Bolt 2GB – Nights with Steve Price

Thursday, 20 November 2014

8:20 pm


SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

STEVE PRICE: Well a Joint Standing Committee on those matters has been meeting. We’ve been privileged enough to be joined by the Chairman of that committee, Federal Liberal Member for Casey, Tony Smith. How are you Tony?

TONY SMITH: Good Steve. Hi Andrew. How are you?

PRICE: Very well. So Tony we have this committee hearing because of all these kerfuffles and Clive Palmer going nuts and the senate election was just a disaster. And everyone was saying well the answer is obvious! Switch to electronic voting! No problem! You’ve looked at it and the conclusion is?

SMITH: The conclusion is electronic voting is highly costly, and voting over the internet electronically is a highly dangerous—very susceptible to hacking. It can’t be done safely, and interestingly, even if it can be in the future, it would change the nature of voting. Because not only do voters have a right to a vote, they have a right to a secret vote and it opens up all sorts of other issues. The other point we found Andrew and Steve as we looked around the world, there seems to be a view that Australia is behind the rest of the world. But actually, the rest of the world is moving away from electronic voting for reasons of cost and security.

Transcript of interview with Tom Elliott 3AW – Drive

Thursday, 20 November 2014



SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

TOM ELLIOTT: Tony Smith joins us now, he’s a federal MP—the member for Casey. He’s also Chair of the Electoral Matters Committee. Tony, good afternoon.

TONY SMITH: G’day Tom, how are you?

ELLIOTT: Good thank you. Now I know you look at things like electronic voting and so forth. First up, is electronic voting going to become a reality for voters any time soon?

SMITH: I think most people have assumed so. I kind of did at the start of this inquiry; I hadn’t given it a lot of thought. But the evidence is the most convenient form—the form people most want—is people voting over the internet.


SMITH: And at the moment, that is a highly risky, very open to hacking. And all the advice is don’t do it unless you want to risk catastrophic consequences.

ELLIOTT: So paper and pencils for the time being?

SMITH: Yes, the alternative is machine voting, which is what they have in many states in the US, where you turn up and vote at a machine. That’s very very costly and still has security risks. And the other point that was made is if it becomes safe enough to do internet voting one day, you’ve still got other considerations. While most people see it as an everyday transaction, it’s more than that. And not only do people have a vote to a vote, they’ve got a right to a secret vote—and we’ve got some really interesting evidence about how voting over the internet would undermine that with people voting in family and work and public places.

Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis ABC News 24 – Capital Hill

Thursday, 20 November 2014



SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

LYNDAL CURTIS: Welcome to the program, I’m Lyndal Curtis. We’ll hear from the Communications Minister a little later. And we’ll also look at the future for the Government’s disallowed financial advice laws. But first, to the just-released report on electronic voting at federal elections, and it looks like the piece of paper, the stubby pencil, the line at the ballot place, and with any luck, the accompanying cake stall and sausage sizzle will be with us for a while yet. The Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is Liberal MP Tony Smith, and he joins me now. Tony Smith, welcome to Capital Hill.

TONY SMITH: Good to be with you Lyndal.

CURTIS: Why isn’t electronic voting an option for the next election, or the few just after that?

SMITH: Well for the next election, even if you’re the most ardent supporter for electronic voting, it couldn’t be done logistically in time. The steps would’ve needed to be taken, in fact, some years back. But we’ve had an inquiry for several months; we’ve heard from the experts both in Australia and overseas. And essentially what the evidence shows is the safest form of electronic voting is machine voting at the booth and it’s very expensive. You’d still be queueing up, you’d still be going. And even the machines in the United States have had some problems. The most convenient would be internet voting and that is very attractive because we do so many transactions online but the evidence shows it is highly risky, subject to hacking, and also raises concerns around the secrecy of the vote and changing the nature of voting. So we think, by all means, let’s deploy modern technology—but not where it compromises the sanctity of the ballot.

CURTIS: So where could modern technology be used?

SMITH: I think the AEC could do a lot more—we’ve made recommendations on this—on electronic certified lists. So you mentioned, when you queue up and vote after you’ve had your sausage at the sausage sizzle, your name is crossed off on a paper list. Now, an electronic certified list, in normal language, would be an interconnected computer-based list. So when Lyndal Curtis votes, her name is not crossed off just at the booth you’re voting at, but at every other booth in the electorate. That cuts down errors; that cuts down multiple voting.

Transcript of interview with David Speers Sky News – PM Agenda

Thursday, 20 November 2014



SUBJECT: Options for electronic voting; Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters; interim report on electronic voting

DAVID SPEERS: Now, it seems that at every election we hear about some votes perhaps being lost in a certain polling booth, or a count that has to be recounted because it’s so close and coming up with a very different result from the first one. Many have suggested over the years that we should move towards electronic voting. It’s done in many other jurisdictions around the world. In fact, in the ACT election—the local election there—there was some electronic voting rolled out there. But today, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters—which has been looking at all of this—has decided no; now’s not the right time to move towards electronic voting. The Chair of that Committee is the Liberal MP, Tony Smith, who joins me now. Thank you for your time.


SPEERS: You particularly looked at this after the most egregious example of lost votes, and that was the Western Australian Senate election, where 1 375 votes, ballot papers, were lost. And a whole new Senate election—costly experience—had to be undertaken.

SMITH: 23 million dollars.

SPEERS: 23 million dollars! Nonetheless, you’re saying no to electronic voting. We should look at what electronic… what we’re talking about here because there are a number of different things when we talk about electronic voting, aren’t there?

SMITH: Well look, you can really put it into two broad categories, David. The safest version is the most costly and that is machine voting, where you still turn up at a polling booth and you vote on a machine—and you mentioned the ACT; there are a number of jurisdictions around the world that do that. It’s very, very costly…

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (13:31): On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting with a large number of Coldstream residents in my electorate of Casey at the Margaret Lewis Reserve, where there was the opening of a gazebo in the centre of the reserve that had been funded by the local council. When Margaret Lewis died back in 1981, she bequeathed 15 hectares of bushland to the people of Coldstream. It is now a reserve maintained by the Friends of Margaret Lewis Reserve, who have been caring for and nurturing that community asset in Coldstream for the best part of 30 years.

In the past they have had small equipment grants from this side of the House and, as I mentioned, a grant from the council, but mostly they have done it themselves. They are a dedicated group of volunteers, led by the irrepressible Morris Maxwell. They have constructed walking paths and ensured that the area is fit for public use. It has become a community hub in Coldstream. I want to pay tribute to Morris Maxwell and to the executive of the Friends of Margaret Lewis Reserve, who have done so much good work over 30 years and who will do more good work in the future for the people of Coldstream.

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