The newly-returned member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, will be writing to the state electoral commissioner to raise concerns regarding the electoral arrangements in the seat of Gregory for the 2020 Queensland State elections.
“Throughout the polling period I received ongoing complaints from constituents about the arrangements and in my opinion many of the complaints are spot on,” said Mr Millar.
“Postal voting is by far the biggest concern. Gregory is an electorate that has a high proportion of voters who are permanently registered as postal voters due to their remote locations.
“This year, the ECQ opened postal voting to all Queenslanders due to corona virus fears. In doing so, they should have issued advice to the permanently registered postal voters regarding their status.
“This did not happen. Permanent postal voters ended up either taking a punt that they would receive a ballot or re-applying for a postal ballot just to be safe,” said Mr Millar.
“It was predictable that if allowed to do so, many Queenslanders would request a postal ballot. About a million did. That’s around one in three of all voters.
“But the ECQ seemed unaware of our slow postal services out in the bush and didn’t leave a comfortable amount of time between the postal ballot mailout and the deadline for its return.
“They brought the close of candidate nominations forward to Sunday, October 11, but that left only a week for printing ballot papers before the pre-polling booths opened,” he said.
“I have constituents who didn’t receive their postal ballots until October 28 or 29. We all knew it would be difficult for them to return them before they became invalid,” he said.
Mr Millar said he advised many constituents who hadn’t received their postal ballots by the middle of the second week of polling to consider travelling to visit a polling booth or to register for telephone voting.
“I do think the ECQ must consider this as a learning experience so they can improve their delivery of ballot papers to permanently registered postal voters next time,” he said.
“They have said 50,000 postal votes have been classified as invalid or informal so far. But the deadline for postal returns was 6 pm yesterday, so we don’t have final figures on postal votes as yet.”
Mr Millar he was also very concerned that residents of the Diamantina and Barcoo shires had no access to any polling booth but the fact was not publicised well in advance, so there were voters who didn’t know they would need to apply for a postal vote.
“There were also peculiar decisions around the location of pre-polling booths. Barcaldine did not get a pre-polling booth, despite having around the same population as Blackall. Blackall was offered pre-polling.
“Aramac with a population of around 300 was offered pre-polling, but Tambo with a slightly larger population was not offered pre-polling.
Mr Millar said despite the inevitable logistical challenges of conducting an election during a pandemic, the people of Gregory once again displayed great civic character with a peaceful and happy competition between candidates.
“I did not hear of any vandalism or altercations. I travelled around all of the polling booths constantly across the two week polling period and in every location volunteers for all the candidates were sharing shade and water and seating with each other.
“I really admire the effort all these volunteers make to support our democracy. To see the generous and respectful way they do so just makes me say, more than ever, Gregory is the best seat in Queensland. It is a privilege to represent its people.”