Government makes shambles of prisoner voting law


Differences between coalition partners and this clumsy and incompetent Government’s use of urgency has resulted in a shambolic and unworkable prisoner voting law, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Nick Smith says.

“This new prisoner voting law is a shambles with different clauses contradicting each other. The mess has been caused by the mad rush to pass it under urgency prior to the 2020 General Election, combined with dysfunctional relationships between Government parties.

“We now have an unusable electoral law that requires prison managers to give false and illegal advice to prisoners on their voting rights and which contradicts itself on who in prison can and can’t vote.

“Justice Minister Little needs to take responsibility for this mess. If the normal parliamentary process had been applied any gaps would have been caught and fixed. This mess over prison voting law parallels those in the new abortion law also caused by rushing legislation.

“National attempted to have the Bill referred back to the Justice Committee to correct the errors. The Government refused that offer but now admits the new law will have to be amended before the ink is dry.

“The problem with this prisoner voting law is that it has been rushed from day one. The normal select committee process was halved, submissions were called and heard during lockdown and officials were unable to provide their normal standard of advice.

“The Government is too focused on trying to score a few thousand more votes from prisoners at the 2020 election rather than providing robust, well-thought through electoral law.”