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Manipulated Elections in Australia

Bob Bottom OAM, justly honoured journalist for his work “reporting upon and investigating organized crime”, and author of 7 books on the subject, turned his attention to electoral fraud in 2001. His interest was triggered by irregularities in the 1989 Queensland election in Bribie Island, north of Brisbane, in the region where he and his wife, Judy, owned a number of independent newspapers. As a result of his previous experience he had been credited with forcing 18 royal commissions and other judicial inquiries.

As a result of his investigations he contacted Dr. Amy McGrath, and offered to write a substantial special preface, recording his own deeply disturbing enquiries, if she reprinted her historical overview Frauding of Votes 1996. This, she did, adding a new chapter on the disturbing policy of persistent denial by the Australian Electoral Commission that any electoral fraud of the slightest consequence exists in Australia.

On the back cover of this reprint, Bob Bottom declared “the need for a  royal commission ‘not just into the true extent of electoral fraud, but into the conduct and effectiveness of electoral authorities, in particular the Australian Electoral Commission, not only to guarantee the Australian people free and fair elections, but a truly impartial regime to conduct them – without fear or favour.’” He launched the reprint in the Theatrette of N.S.W. Parliament House.

In Bob Bottom’s preface, he referred to the submission of the National Party Electorate of Fisher, Secretary Graham Smith, to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters on April 5, 1988.

 “I took a personal interest in the last election, and have been disturbed by comments by those who should know, that the whole election was a giant fraud perpetrated on the people of Australia. I know that such statements will not be welcomed by the bureaucrats in the electoral office or by the Government of the day…. Yet, take the Fitzgerald inquiry in Queensland at the present moment, and the thread of corruption that links all levels of society – the judiciary, the police, the politicians and the leading business etc."

“We would be burying our heads in the sand if we did not consider that ‘corruption’ could not apply to our electoral system. It is up to society to prove that our electoral system is beyond reproach. It is not up to an individual voter to have to expose fraud in the system. The electoral system, like Caesar’s wife, has to beyond reproach." 

According to Smith, ‘There is a considerable body of opinion in the electorates that the 1987 federal election was rigged from beginning to end. This has been said to have been achieved by persons unknown putting 100,0000 dummy voters on the rolls in the twelve marginal seats. Even if the 100,000 were an exaggeration, and the number were only half that, it has to be agreed that a fraud of such a magnitude could change the outcome of the election.
  In the seat of Fisher is has been stated by some that 5,000 names were added in the period just prior to the closing of the roll. In the rush to get the rolls printed, there was insufficient time to exhaustively check the validity of al such enrolments.” 

  In his six-page submission, Smith detailed various ways in which he maintained a fraud could be perpetrated without trace, indicators of the likelihood that such a fraud did take place, and grounds for suspecting a cover-up.” 

Nearly 14 years later, Graham Smith was to prove hauntingly prophetic. A major exposure in the Courier Mail on 4 November, 2000 alleged that rorted votes contributed to the 1987 victory of Labor candidate Michael Lavarch in Fisher. Written by investigative journalist Hedley Thomas and Chris Griffith, the exposure relied largely upon information from a party insider. 

The insider was quoted as saying that he and other party supporters had cast numerous votes for Lavarch and other ALP candidates at state and federal elections by illegally impersonating people. His claims, emphatically rejected as nonsense by Lavarch and his then campaign manager, Barry Large, raised serious questions about the results of a number of elections for marginal seats since the 1980’s.  

For its investigation, the Courier Mail inspected documentation verifying the source’s close involvement in the 1987 campaign.


(article from Courier Mail)

Thomas and Griffiths wrote that the claims also broadened concern about electoral fraud beyond ALP preselections, as revealed at the then current Shepherdson inquiry, to the subversions of public elections. As they reported the insider, a member of the 1987 campaign team, said the voting rort involved first compiling the names of voters who had left the Fisher electorate, but were still listed as enrolled there… The insider, who did not suggest Lavarch knew of any wrongdoing, said supporters never needed to vote at the same booth twice as there were more than 60 booths in Fisher to choose from…. 

  “A separate ALP insider, who later contacted me, also talked of similar happenings as those disclosed by the Courier Mail, but on the south side of Brisbane. According to him, a clique of volunteer campaign workers used manila folders with printout of electors’ names to lodge votes at nominated booths, along with names of certain school teachers working at booths who were supposedly ‘on side’. They were referred to as ‘pets’."

"That the electoral system is open to manipulation is beyond question
 ... Fraudulent enrolment is almost impossible to prevent."

(NSW Electoral Commissioners, Messrs R. Cundy and Ian Dickson, NSW Government Inquiry 1989)

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