The bridge to Bribie Island, Queensland
Bribie Island foreshore across Pumicestone Passage
where over 500 names were enrolled on vacant land illegally
along several kilometres, for outsiders who voted in these
names, in 1989
in the election won by the Goss/Rudd/Swan team.
Potential Fraud in Elections
The Frauding of Votes?
Introduction and update by Bob Bottom
edition with introduction by Bob Bottom, renowned
past, when the major issue of organised crime posed a
threat, Australians with concerns invariably contacted me.
Nowadays, with the vulnerability of our electoral system to
voting fraud becoming an issue of similar concern, those
with concerns inevitably turn to Dr. Amy McGrath.
Like so many other
Australians, for much of my life, my knowledge of voting
fraud had been minimal, at best, notwithstanding the fact
that I had long been involved in the political process. That
was until, in semi-retirement, in sunny Queensland,
something occurred which has galvanised me into
investigating organised crime and corruption. In a national
sense, the two issues are equally serious. Each pose a
threat to our democratic way of life. The reality of
organised crime and associated corruption has long been
recognised, and creditable measures have been instituted to
combat it, at both federal and state levels.
That is not so
with still emerging revelations about electoral fraud. Thus
the importance of this up-dated book by Dr. Amy McGrath. As
I became involved in examining electoral fraud, wherever I
sought information I was advised to talk to Dr.Amy McGrath.
Which I did – and it led me to reading The Frauding of
Votes? originally published in 1995. In the light of
subsequent and more recent developments, I was among those
to have encouraged her to bring out an up-dated edition.
How I became
involved and concerned about electoral fraud is an
intriguing story in itself. Towards the end of 2000,
following revelations in Queensland’s Courier Mail and
parliamentary concern over electoral rorting within
Australian Labor Party branches in Queensland, Premier Peter
Beattie’s Queensland government instituted a judicial
inquiry through the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission.
Presided over by Justice Tom Shepherdson, the inquiry laid
bare a plethora of material about ALP identities falsely
enrolling for party pre-selection ballots and party
Aside from reading
about proceedings through the Courier Mail, and
continuing exposures by the Courier Mail in its own right,
the inquiry to me was simply another matter of public
interest. Then during proceedings in November 2,000, a
reference was made to alleged happenings on Bribie Island,
about one hour’s drive north of Brisbane where my wife,
Judy, and I happen to own a weekly newspaper, Island
Mainland News. Out of local interest we published the
following small item on the front page of our Wednesday
edition, 29 November.
inquiry has heard a claim of false enrolments in the
Glasshouse State in 1989.
the inquiry, Mr. Russell Hanson, QC, said there was a
‘suggestion’ people were ‘moved in’ from Sydney and
Melbourne and put into caravan parks in Glasshouse.
“The seat of
Glasshouse covered Bribie Island as well as the neighbouring
“The seat was won
in 1989 by Jon Sullivan, who held it under its re-named
status as the seat of Caboolture until his defeat in 1998 by
Mr. Bill Feldman.
“There has been no
suggestion that Mr Sullivan knew of any rorting.”
That day two
people came into my office at the newspaper and related an
that, prior to the 1989 Queensland state election, they had
been contracted to deliver letters addressed to electors
throughout Bribie Island, then with a population of about
12,000. It involved delivery to about 4,600 homes and unit
complexes. What they found was that many of the letters were
addressed to people at addresses that simply did not exist.
Well, what’s new?
Members of parliament, state and federal, have long
complained about mailing out letters to constituents and
sometimes having large numbers returned. And, yes, from time
to time subsequent inquiries have found that some people
have been wrongly enrolled, or dead people have been left on
But the Bribie
Island episode was unprecedented. That delivery was not by
Australia Post, whereby letters churned out from party
headquarters or electorate officers are supplied to post
offices and various staff sort them into mail order for
delivery to Bribie Island. This mail was contracted
out to private deliverers with all of the letters already
pre-sorted into street address order. Not only was it
illegal, with Australia Post having a strict monopoly over
the delivery of personally addressed mail, but it was vastly
cheaper, especially in campaign funding terms. For such a
delivery the cost was less than one-eighth of what Australia
Post would have charged.
still, at that time, not even electoral authorities could
assemble voter registrations in street order. Their computer
capacity at that time was limited to assembling voter
registrations in alphabetical order.”
(NB: The 584 letters that could not be delivered in
that 1989 election were for vacant land along Pumicestone
Passage, and the green side of Clayton Park, on Bribie
Island. Wayne Swan was Queensland ALP secretary. When the
ALP won the election, Wayne Gosse became Premier and Kevin
Rudd, cabinet secretary.)