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Queensland Election Fiasco

While the eyes of the world have been focused on the election fiasco in America, the Beattie Labour government in Queensland is likely to lose its parliamentary majority before the end of the year because of electoral fraud. John Howard reports.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has called for federal help to "clean up the mess" in Queensland over people being falsely enrolled.

Mr Beattie has pledged to expel from the Labour Party any MP's who have acted improperly.

Prime Minister John Howard said Opposition leader Kim Beazely should also speak to the federal Labour MP named as having boasted that he had 12 people enrolled at his home in the 1970's.

Three state Labour MP's have been named in evidence before the Sheperdson inquiry with Queensland Deputy Premier, Jim Elder, resigning last week. Two Federal MP's and a senior figure in the party organisation have also been named but their names have been suppressed.

The inquiry has heard that Labour's right-wing Australian Workers Union faction rorted the electoral roll to strengthen its position against the Left in pre-selection ballots in Brisbane and Townsville.

The federal Australian Labour Party ignored warnings in the early 1990's about electoral rorting, former Queensland Labour president Ian McLean said yesterday.

Mr McLean said right faction powerbrokers had said nothing should be done because it could jeopardise the Goss Labour government's survival.

"What was going on in Queensland was known about at the national level, but there was no real interest in doing anything about it," Mr McLean said.

Mr McLean said the row could cost Labour the government in Queensland and might undermine the ALP's prospects of winning the next federal election.

"A 1993 report by a lawyer, the late Hamish Linacre, detailing evidence of electoral rorting was given to the state ALP's disputes tribunal but it was ignored," Mr McLean said.

The Premier, Mr Beattie said, "A respected national ALP figure would be appointed to overhaul the scandal-ridden state branch." Under an eight-point plan released by Mr Beattie, the national figure would supervise preparations for the state elections expected early next year and report to a special state conference as early as possible.

Victorian senator Robert Ray said although Queensland might have raised concerns about pre-selections he had no previous knowledge of electoral roll rorting.

"I would have said it was a breach of the law and to put it in the hands of the police," Senator Ray said.

"I would have known that rorting the electoral roll is a massive risk," he said.

An Electoral Commission of Queensland would be established to supervise Labour pre-selections, with its structure including an audit system to prevent rorting.

The state coalition yesterday released details of a package that Opposition Leader Rob Borbidge said would restore honesty to government. The package included a requirement for establishing identification for enrolment and voting.

Meanwhile, Local Government Minister Terry Mackenroth is expected to be named the new Queensland Deputy Premier later this week.

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