Australian Labor Party launches campaign in London
ALP Abroad, the Australian Labor Party’s London-based international supporter’s group, has launched a voter awareness campaign in anticipation of a Federal Election later this year.
Paul Smith, ALP Abroad’s president said the campaign was necessary to alert expatriates in London and across the UK of changes to Australian electoral law and to encourage Australians to enrol now as overseas voters.
“The Howard Government has made it harder for expatriate Australians to vote while resident overseas,” said Mr Smith. “The changes, introduced by the Federal Government since the last election, will mean that the electoral roll closes on the day that Mr Howard calls an election. Previously, the rolls remained opened for at least two weeks, thereby allowing Australians who had moved abroad the opportunity to register as an overseas voter before the rolls closed.
“The Federal Government’s electoral roll changes could disenfranchise up to one million Australians who are estimated to be out of the country at any one time,” he said. The first stage of ALP Abroad’s campaign will include an advertisement in Australian Times alerting Australians of the electoral law changes and encouraging them to register as overseas voters immediately.
ALP Abroad’s campaign initiative received a boost when South Australian Premier, the Hon Mike Rann MP, addressed a meeting of the group at the House of Commons. Mr Rann outlined the key issues leading up to the Federal Election and praised ALP Abroad’s voter awareness campaign.
During the meeting with Mr Rann, ALP Abroad’s Paul Smith said 100,000 Australians live in London at any one time and in the 2004 federal election over 20,000 voted at Australia House. “Overseas votes make a difference as London is the single largest polling station in Australian elections and in 2004 helped Labor win the marginal seat of Hindmarsh. This year, with an increased number of marginal seats, including the Prime Minister’s own, overseas votes will count.” said Mr Smith. “I urge expats to get register as overseas voters as soon as possible. The process is simple and forms can be downloaded from www.alpabroad.org ,” Mr Smith said.
ALP Abroad is also planning to hand out information and enrolment forms at key expat events and commuter tube stations over the coming months. More information about ALP Abroad activities, including links to the AEC’s voter registration forms, can be found at www.alpabroad.org.