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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.  


Books on Potential Fraud in Elections
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The Frauding of Votes?
Introduction and update by Bob Bottom

(2nd edition with introduction by Bob Bottom, renowned investigative journalist)

“During years 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 plebiscites.

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.  

“The Shepherdson inquiry has heard a claim of false enrolments in the Glasshouse State in 1989.

Counsel assisting 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 mainland.

“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 extraordinary story.

They recalled 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 the rolls.

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.

More interesting 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.)

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