Bush voters furious as postal ballots fail to arrive

 

RURAL Queensland voters, some of whom live hours from the nearest polling booth, are yet to receive their postal ballots, in system failings slammed as "discriminatory" and an affront to democracy.

In areas where the post is delivered once or twice a week, residents still without a postal ballot are moving to vote via phone, although the Electoral Commission of Queensland won't say if they are bolstering resources to deal with the increase.

A spokesman for Australia Post said all ballot packs had been delivered except in some remote areas and expected those to arrive by "the end of the week".

But grazier Kylie Stretton, whose Red Hill Station is a 260km round trip to Charters Towers, said even if her ballot arrived on Friday she did not believe it would reach the ECQ before the deadline of 10 days after the close of polls on Saturday.

 

Kylie Stretton. Picture: Vick Miller Photography
Kylie Stretton. Picture: Vick Miller Photography

 

"My neighbour is 80-years-old and she now has to take herself to town to vote," she said.

"For a lot of rural Queenslander's it's another nail in this long line where we are not having our say, no one is listening to us."

Ms Stretton opted to vote via telephone, a process that took 20 minutes for her.

This option is available to those who live more than 20kms from a polling booth.

Others are making the arduous trip into town.

Grazier Amanda Clark from Ibis Creek Station in Mt Coolon, did the 460km round trip to her nearest booth yesterday. It's the first time her postal vote hasn't arrived, a failure she described as "discriminatory" considering some in the bush had no other option.

The ECQ received more than 900,000 postal vote applications this election, three times more than in 2017.

 

Mayor of Richmond, Queensland John Wharton
Mayor of Richmond, Queensland John Wharton

 

Ballots were prepped from October 11 according to the ECQ, with AusPost stating all packs were received on October 22. A third of all postal votes have already been returned.

The electorates with the highest proportion of people casting their ballot by mail are located in outer suburban Brisbane electorates like Chatsworth, Stretton, Ferny Grove and Aspley.

Only 8 per cent of voters in Traeger applied for a postal ballot.

Richmond Shire Council Mayor John Wharton, who is yet to receive his postal ballot, blamed the ECQ for the delays and called on the next state government to undertake a complete "overhaul" of the voting system. "Our democracy is slipping away," he said.

Originally published as Bush voters slam 'discriminatory' democracy as postal ballots fail to arrive


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