Barnaby Joyce, PM Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan Dismiss Queensland Plan to End Compulsory Voting

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By Erik Pineda | January 4, 2013 4:43 PM EST

Ending compulsory voting in Queensland would lead to the eventual rise of radical politics in Australia, National Senator Barnaby Joyce said on Friday.

Senator Joyce is reacting to a discussion paper released on Thursday by Queensland Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, which seeks inputs on the Campbell Government's planned electoral reforms.

Included in the discussion is the possible scrapping of legal requirements for Australians aged 18 and up to vote. Mr Bleijie, however, clarified that the Liberal Queensland government has yet to reach a final decision on the matter.

The discussion paper merely aims to collect more ideas from the public for consideration of state authorities, the top Queensland official stressed.

But Senator Joyce warned that such initiatives could prompt for the re-emergence of far right political ideas.

He feared that with voting in Australia stripped of legal obligations, "a lot of people just wouldn't bother voting."

"In Australia I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up with 30 or 40 per cent of the people turning up to vote and I don't know whether that would be a good outcome," Senator Joyce told ABC in an interview.

"The next thing is you'd have a rise of the capacity of parties on the far right ... you'd have a White Australia policy and things like that coming back into the fore," the National senator cautioned.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has assailed what she described as the Liberal Party's designs to reconfigure Australian politics that would only benefit specific interest groups.

Taking on Twitter yesterday, Ms Gillard urged the nation to fight off the political plans that were unveiled by the Campbell Government through its discussion paper on state electoral reforms.

"Fight @theqldpremier's plan to end compulsory voting. Don't let the Liberals make our democracy the plaything of cashed-up interest groups," the prime minister's tweet said.

Also, Treasurer Wayne Swan dismissed the plan being pushed by Queensland state authorities, which he claimed is being engineered to cloak the public's growing dissatisfaction with the Liberal government's policies.

If realised, the Campbell plan will relive the forgettable era of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, with Australians likely to have a taste of U.S. Republicans Tea Party movement, Mr Swan said.

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