Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — I rise this morning to speak on the report handed down by the Electoral Matters Committee, of which I am privileged to be a member. The inquiry into electronic voting was an interesting one. As the member for Yuroke said, it is interesting to analyse some of the electronic voting systems that are in place in other jurisdictions, not just in Australia but internationally as well. Under the terms of reference the committee was asked to look at the types of voting that we utilise in Victoria currently but also in other jurisdictions and to ascertain how effective they are, and I will talk more about that later in my contribution.
Under the terms of reference we also looked at the alternatives that are available and at the need to ensure that we have the integrity and security of an electronic voting system if that were to be implemented. The way that people have voted historically has not changed much over generations, but when you look at other areas of our lives the technology that is available to us in this modern age has changed dramatically in recent times, whether it is in ways of communicating with each other, in paying bills or in doing banking. As we know, technology has moved us on quite quickly from what we did decades ago to what we are doing now.
Electronic voting occurs in some jurisdictions at present in different forms. As the member for Yuroke said, many of those jurisdictions are moving away from electronic voting purely and simply because the integrity and security of the systems cannot be guaranteed. They were certainly the findings and the conclusion of the committee. Interestingly Estonia seems to be the only jurisdiction that maintains its current form of electronic voting. We saw the debacle that occurred with the recent census here. I suppose the faith and confidence the public has in electronic systems was somewhat downgraded during that period of time, to say the least.
Ultimately the committee came up with six recommendations. Recommendation 1 is in-principle support by the committee for remote voting in Victoria, but that is confined to a limited category of electors. That might include people who are blind or have low vision, who have some form of motor impairment, who have insufficient language or literacy skills or who are eligible electors who might be interstate or overseas at the time of an election. I think that is a common-sense approach to remote voting, which occurs in certain circumstances at the moment.
Recommendations 2 and 3 go to the heart of the integrity and security of electronic voting systems. Recommendation 2 talks about collaboration between the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), the Australian Electoral Commission and other state and territory electoral commissions to develop what might be agreed principles around the integrity and security for systems that are available and to look at that from a national perspective as well. Recommendation 3 is interesting from my perspective because it recommends that we establish an electronic voting board, which would oversee the technical and traditional scrutiny arrangements for remote voting. That board, as recommended by the committee, would have members from academia with technical expertise around electronic voting, and specialists and representatives from registered political parties.
Recommendations 5 and 6 talk about the VEC undertaking further work. One element of that is a cost-benefit analysis of electronic roll mark-off facilities. I think one of the frustrating things for many people is that an individual or individuals — and I know they are in the minority — who vote at multiple polling places on election day upset the integrity of the whole system. I would support us having an electronic roll mark-off facility, but the VEC will do some more work in that space. Thank you to the chair and all the committee members for their hard work on the report.