I have something to ask.
This morning I had a neighbour come to see me at prepoll voting in tears. Her husband has COVID, and has just realised that he won’t be able to vote on Saturday.
By this afternoon, I learned that up to 200,000 people are in the same boat. That’s how many Australians tested positive for COVID between Saturday and Tuesday afternoon. About 1% of all voters in Australia.
So we called in our lawyers, and here’s what they told us: we can take this to court.
If we win, everyone in Australia who is COVID-positive could get access to telephone voting.
If we lose, we would have to pay our legal costs, and the government’s; it could cost us up to $60,000.
So. I know we have asked a lot. I know that many of you have donated to my campaign already. But I’m asking one more thing. Not for my campaign, but for the tens of thousands of Australians who may not be able to vote in this election.
I can’t guarantee that we will win. But I believe we have to take on this fight because there’s simply nothing more important than every Australian having the right to vote.
Why on earth is this happening? Here’s the detail.
People who test positive for COVID have to isolate for 7 days. That means not voting in person.
Anyone who tests positive today (or any time after 6pm on Tuesday) is able to access phone voting through the Australian Electoral Commission. That’s great.
Here’s the problem. Anyone who tested positive before 6pm on Tuesday is not able to access phone voting, only postal voting. And applications for postal votes closed yesterday.
The Government says that people who have COVID should have known this and applied before the deadline. But it’s very clear that a great number of people did not know. And can you blame them when they were sick in bed with COVID?!
After I tweeted about this earlier today, dozens of people messaged me saying they would miss out on voting because of this.
The solution is very simple: Special Minister of State Ben Morton could amend the regulations right now and allow everyone who has COVID to access phone voting. He has refused.
As many as 200,000 Australians are in this absurd situation. They are legally required to vote. But they’re also legally required to isolate. Which law are they supposed to break?
This government should be ashamed. Because of their incompetence, thousands of Australians are unable to vote unless they lie to the AEC or endanger others by breaking isolation.
That is why I feel I have no choice but to take this to court. If we don’t win, at least we will have done what is right. If we should win and the Government pays our legal costs, we will promptly contact donors with an offer to return their funds.
Thanks for your support.