A letter to the Premier, calling for Parliament to sit again in February to ensure all South Australians will be able to vote in the coming State election has been wholeheartedly supported by Member for Frome Geoff Brock MP.
Speaker of the House, the Hon Dan Cregan MP, wrote to the premier in January requesting Parliament reconvene on the basis that a five-month break from Christmas until after the State election would hamper the management of South Australia.
Now, the Speaker has written again, this time to ensure all electors get the right to vote in March, even if they are in isolation under the Emergency Management Act due to the pandemic.
“The Legislative Council will be considering amendments to the Electoral (Assisted Voting) Bill 2022 which will allow anyone subject to a direction under the Emergency Management Act the right to vote by phone,” Mr Brock said.
The Bill will be debated by the Legislative Council and would be available for the House of Assembly to vote on the following day, if only Parliament was sitting.
“But because Deputy Premier and Minister Dan Van Holst Pellekaan suspended Parliament until May – after the State election, then this Bill amendment cannot be passed into legislation,” Mr Brock said.
“So, anyone who is unable to physically attend a polling booth because they have been impelled to quarantine due to COVID-19 emergency directions will be denied their right to vote.”
Mr Brock said those who contracted COVID-19 or who were close contacts close to the day of the State elections would have no way of getting to the polls and it would be too late to apply for a postal ballot paper.
“If Minister van Holst Pellekaan had listened to his parliamentary colleagues last year, and if the Premier had acceded to the last request by the Speaker, Parliament would be sitting now, and the Speaker would not have had to write again to ask for Parliament to reconvene.”
Mr Brock said it was likely that hundreds, if not thousands, of South Australian electors would not be able to extend their democratic right to vote under the current legislation, which does not allow for phone voting.
“This is why this Bill amendment needs to be debated and voted on as a matter of urgency, prior to the State election, so that everyone can exercise their democratic right to have their voice heard.”