Federal Election 2010: voting in Anangu communities

First posted on 27 July 2010 under Uncategorized.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: elections

Introduction

A federal election was held on Saturday, 21 August 2010. On that day, across Australia, eligible voters cast ballots at one of thousands of polling booths.

In South Australia’s remote Anangu communities, however, mobile polling was conducted before Election Day.

Mobile polling booths operated in 10 locations on the APY Lands and also at Yalata and Oak Valley.

Mobile polling in these communities was conducted over a four-day period from Tuesday, 17 August to Friday, 20 August.

The opening times for these booths ranged from 30 minutes in some smaller communities to three hours at Amata.[i]

Local candidates

The Australian Parliament has two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate.[ii]

The House of Representatives is made up of 150 local Members of Parliament (MPs). Eleven of these members are elected by South Australian voters, one for each of the State’s eleven electorates.

The electorate of Grey covers more than 904,881 square kilometres or 91.8% of South Australia.[iii] It includes Yalata and Umoona communities and all of the APY and Maralinga Tjarutja Lands.

Click here to download a map of Grey (file size: 120KB)

Four people stood as candidates for the seat of Grey at the 2010 election:

  • Andrew Melville-Smith, The Greens 
  • Tauto Sansbury, Australian Labor Party 
  • Rowan Ramsey, Liberal 
  • Sylvia Holland, Family First[iv]

On 13 September 2010, the Australian Electoral Commission formally declared that the Liberal candidate (Rowan Ramsay) had won the seat of Grey.[v]

Supporting Anangu voters

Even though voting is compulsory, at recent Federal and State elections, less than half of eligible voters in remote Anangu communities participated.[vi]

For example, at the time of the 2010 State election, 1328 people from the APY Lands were registered on the State Electoral Roll. Of this number, only 568 people (43%) voted at one of the ten mobile polling booths held across the APY Lands. [vii]

In an effort to increase the participation rate of Anangu voters at the 2010 Federal Election, an education team from the Australian Electoral Commission visited some communities in the week before mobile polling was held (i.e. Amata, Kaltjiti, Mimili, Pipalyatjara, Pukatja and Umuwa).[viii]

The Paper Tracker welcomed these efforts but is disappointed that the education team did not visit all of the locations in which mobile polling was to be conducted (i.e. the team did not visit Iwantja, Kalka, Kanpi/Nyapari, Oak Valley, Yalata and Watarru).

The Paper Tracker is also disappointed that for the 2010 Federal Election the Australian Electoral Commission did not produce any printed material in Pitjantjatjara or Yankunytjatjara, the main languages spoken in South Australia’s remote Anangu communities. Indeed, while printed materials on how to enrol and vote were available on the Australian Electoral Commission website in English and 21 other languages, none were available in any Aboriginal languages.[ix]

Voter numbers (added 28 September 2010)

On 6 September 2010, the Australian Electoral Commission advised the Paper Tracker that a combined total of 588 ordinary ballots had been cast at the 10 mobile polling booths that it had operated on the APY Lands for the 2010 election.  While this figure represents a slight increase on the number of ballots cast at the 2007 Federal Election (i.e. 558 ordinary ballots), it still represents less than half of all the eligible voters on the APY Lands.[x]

The number of ordinary ballots cast at individual Anangu mobile polling booths in 2007 and 2010 is as follows:

Amata: 117 ballots in 2007, 95 ballots in 2010

Iwantja: 67 ballots in 2007, 83 ballots in 2010

Kalka: 24 ballots in 2007, 26 ballots in 2010

Kaltjiti: 57 ballots in 2007, 86 ballots in 2010

Kanpi: no mobile polling in 2007; 17 ballots in 2010

Mimili: 78 ballots in 2007, 109 ballots in 2010

Nyapari: 22 ballots in 2007, 10 ballots in 2010

Oak Valley: 41 ballots in 2007, 32 ballots in 2010

Pipalyatjara: 48 ballots in 2007, 36 ballots in 2010

Pukatja: 103 ballots in 2007, 117 ballots in 2010

Umuwa: 18 ballots in 2007, no mobile polling in 2010

Watarru: 24 ballots in 2007, 9 ballots in 2010

Yalata: 64 ballots in 2007, 69 ballots in 2010. [xi]

This article has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] The final schedule for mobile polling was as follows: Tuesday, 17 August 2010: Iwantja/Indulkana: 9.00am to 11.00am at the PY Ku Centre; Oak Valley: 10.30am to 12.30pm at the community office; Mimili: 1.00pm to 3.00pm at the PY Ku Centre. Wednesday, 18 August 2010: Kaltjiti/Fregon: 10.00am to 12.00pm at the PY Ku Centre; Pukatja/Ernabella: 1.30pm to 4.00pm in the local council meeting room; Yalata: 2.00pm to 4.00pm in the community administration building. Thursday, 19 August 2010: Amata: 9.45am to 12.45pm at the PY Ku Centre; Nyapari: 2.00pm to 2.30 pm at the community office; Kanpi: 3.30pm to 4.00pm at the community office. Friday, 20 August 2010: Pipalyatjara: 9.15am to 10.45am at the PY Ku Centre; Kalka: 12.15pm to 1.15pm at the local council office; Watarru: 1.00pm to 1.30pm at the community office. (see Rayner, S (AEC). 26 July 2010. Email to J. Nicholls. Also: O’Donoghue, D (AEC). 12 August 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; Rayner, S (AEC). 12 August 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; O’Donoghue, D (AEC). 18 August 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; O’Donoghue, D (AEC). 19 August 2010. Email to J. Nicholls).

[ii] See: Parliament of Australia. 2010. “Introduction” to the House of Representatives. Available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/info/general/index.htm. Accessed 1 August 2010.

[iii] Australian Electoral Commission, 2010. “Profile of the electoral division of Grey,” webpage available at: http://aec.gov.au/Elections/federal_elections/2007/profiles/g/Grey.htm. Accessed 1 August 2010.

[iv] The candidates are listed here in the order in which their names appeared on the ballot paper (see: Australian Electoral Commission. 2010. “Voting in the electorate of Grey (SA) 2010 federal election,” webpage available at: http://aec.gov.au/election/sa/grey.htm. Accessed 1 August 2010).

[v] Australian Electoral Commission. September 2010. “House of Representatives: seats won,” webpage available at: http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseSeatsWon-15508-NAT.htm. Accessed 27 September 2010.

[vi] For the 2002 State election, there were 1681 people from the APY Lands on the electoral roll. Of these, only 677 (40%) voted (see: Tully, S. 17 November 2004. Letter to Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia). At the time of the 2006 State election, the number of people from the APY Lands on the electoral roll had fallen to 1106. The Paper Tracker understands that some 413 (37%) of these people voted (Mousley, K. 20 October 2006. Letter to Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Standing Committee, Parliament of South Australia. Also: Breuer, L. 17 February 2010. Email to J. Nicholls).

[vii] See: Mousley, K (ECSA). 30 March 2010. Email to J. Nicholls and attachment. Also Parkins, R (ECSA). 17 May 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; and Mousley, K (ECSA). 26 May 2010. Email to J. Nicholls. Note this calculation does not include people living in the small non-Anangu township of Mintabie.

[viii] O’Donoghue, D (AEC). 30 July 2010. Email to J. Nicholls.

[ix] Australian Electoral Commission. 2010. “Translated information and telephone interpreter service,” webpage available at: http://www.aec.gov.au/About_AEC/Translated_information/. Accessed: 2 August 2010. The Paper Tracker acknowledges that prior to the 2007 election, the Commission produced two educational DVDs that explain (1) the Federal election system, and (2) how to fill in ballot papers for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Both of these DVDs have a Pitjantjatjara language track option. The Paper Tracker understood that the second of these DVDs – explaining how to cast a formal vote – would be played on a continuous loop at mobile polling booths in Anangu communities during the 2010 mobile polling. The Paper Tracker understands that this did not happen. (See: Neilson, M (AEC) 14 July 2010. Letter to Rev. Peter McDonald. Additional advice provided to J. Nicholls on 28 July 2010 during a meeting with S. Rayner, Field Officer, Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, Australian Electoral Commission. This meeting was held in the Commission’s Adelaide office).

[x] See: O’Donoghue, D (AEC), 6 September 2010. Email to J. Nicholls. The Paper Tracker understands that the number of people on the Federal Electoral role is similar to the number on the State Electoral roll. In March 2010, 1328 people from the APY Lands were registered on the State Electoral Roll (see: Parkins, R (ECSA). 17 May 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; and Mousley, K (ECSA). 26 May 2010. Email to J. Nicholls). Please note this calculation does not include people living in the small township of Mintabie.

[xi] See: O’Donoghue, D (AEC),¬† 6 September 2010. Email to J. Nicholls; and Fullerton, C (AEC). 28 September 2010. Email to J. Nicholls.

The Paper Tracker works hard to provide accurate and up-to-date information. We will correct any inaccurate information as soon as it is brought to our attention. Please contact us if you have additional information or can provide us with an update.