Hon. Ben Morton MP – Transcript – Doorstop

Liberal Party of Australia

JOURNALIST: Okay. Ben, what are the changes that have just been made?

MINISTER MORTON: Well, we’ve made changes based on recommendations from the Electoral Commissioner that wll allow telephone voting available from people who have received a COVID positive result from 6 p.m. last Friday.

JOURNALIST: Why the sudden change?

MINISTER MORTON: Well, we we respond to recommendations from the independent Electoral Commissioner. This is an issue that I’ve been raising with the Commissioner in the last 48 hours. I requested formal advice yesterday. That’s been received this morning. That will allow the regulations to change and to allow this to occur. The Commission is rightly looking at the capacity of that system. The people earlier in the week, they had access to postal voting. They were told about that and they were able to use it. Some haven’t. This will allow those that haven’t taken up the opportunity of postal voting to be able to now access the telephone voting system.

JOURNALIST: I mean, why is it important that as many Australians vote?

MINISTER MORTON: Well, this election is a choice. It’s a choice that has consequences for you and your family and for your community. It’s a choice between a Government you know, and an Opposition you don’t know. And all Australians need to think about the consequence of their choice that have the ablity to vote on Election Day, and this is going to allow that to occur. For those people that had the opportunity to postal vote, but, and were told about that opportunity, but didn’t go through with that.

JOURNALIST: Could this not have been foreseen though? Why has it taken the threat of a legal challenge, a letter from the Labor Party asking you to change the regulations for this to actually happen on day 40 of the campaign?

MINISTER MORTON: I haven’t received a letter from the Labor Party and the discussions with the Electoral Commission occured before I even was aware of the legal challenge as well. So any suggestion that this is a response to a legal challenge out from a teal Independent in Melbourne is wrong. This is something that the Government has been working through with the Electoral Commission. What’s really important here, that the Government is not going to take action to change the rules of our electoral system against the recommendation of the independent Electoral Commission. Now, if that’s what those Independents were asking us to do, well, that’s quite odd. We asked for that advice from the Electoral Commission, they wanted to look at the capacity of their telephone voting system, they’ve provided that advice and we are now going to action that advice. That was received this morning.

JOURNALIST: And are you confident that you have the capacity to do this? It’s the first time telephone voting’s ever happened in Australia.

MINISTER MORTON: Well the election, the Electoral Commissioner is confident, and that’s what I need in order to have confidence to sign off on these changes.

JOURNALIST: What happens if there’s a big crash?

MINISTER MORTON: Well, the Electoral Commission has been working through all of these scenarios. They’ve been able to make the recommendation to the Government this morning based on the capacity [inaudible] system over the last 24 hours as well. And so it’s been right to make sure that those people who tested positive for COVID that had access to postal voting, that’s what they should have used. That’s what they were advised to use. And that’s what’s been available to them. Making sure that telephones voting is available for those people that don’t have that, people who are testing positive today, that’s been the priority of this system. That’s what the legislation was passed on the basis of. And so we’re confident that based on what we’ve seen in the system in the last 24 hours, based on the advice from the Electoral Commissioner, we can now make this change.

JOURNALIST: And how many people are you expecting to vote by phone?

MINISTER MORTON: That’s a matter for the Electoral Commissioner to address today. We want to make sure that the telephone voting system is available for those people that have no other ability to vote other than this. What today’s change does is to give access to this system for people that had access to the postal vote system but didn’t use it. This is a way in which we can make sure that people consider their choice an this election very carefully. As we said, it’s a choice between a Government and Opposition you don’t know. It’s a choice between a strong economy and a weak economy. It’s a choice between leadership that is certain that’s going to provide a stronger economy for a stronger future.

JOURNALIST: Thank you.

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