There is less than a month remaining until the Federal Election on May 22 and already news has surfaced of attempted vote tampering in the Brisbane electorate of Blair – a marginal seat currently occupied by Labor’s Shayne Neumann.
A worker at Australia Post was caught on a woman’s security camera throwing out piles of Coalition postal vote applications into a residential bin. The employee, who has been suspended, dumped the postal votes and then offered her a bribe after being confronted.
The Australian Electoral Commission downplayed the incident, insisting that it ‘has no effect on the operation of the election whatsoever and that voters can access in-person voting’.
What it did have an effect on was voter confidence in the postal vote process.
Paul Graham, the CEO and Managing Director of Australia Post, confirmed that his company was working with the Queensland Police to resolve the issue. “All our team members have been fully trained in the right procedures for handling mail at election time. The person involved has been suspended effective immediately pending the outcome of the investigation and we are working with the LNP to deliver these mail items as a priority.”
He added that Australia Post took full responsibility for the issue and had apologised unreservedly. Australia Post has been trying to repair its image after the Cartier watch incident.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and we will continue to reinforce with our team the important role that we play during elections and adherence to our procedures and service commitment.”
It remains concerning that any material related to voting in the election could be so easily lost without the issuing political party or the AEC knowing about it.
Annette Weller from Brisbane said that the Australia Post worker offered her a $10 bribe to look the other way after she caught him out, which she declined.
“Did you empty all those postal things [votes ] in there, in our bin?” asked Ms Weller. “Well, we’ve got you on footage – on footage. You are on camera, mate. We got cameras everywhere.”
Initially, the Australia Post worker denied dumping postal votes and drove off on his bike.
The Australia Post worker returned later to the residence on his bike for a second time. As he pulled up, Ms Weller asked, “What do you want?” After which she tells him that the Senator [Liberal Senator Paul Scarr] is coming to pick up the postal votes.
It is at this point that the man opens his wallet and attempts to bribe her with a $10 note.
“No, don’t give me nothing mate. Don’t bribe me!”
Ms Weller later spoke to A Current Affair, telling them that, “That was all important mail for people wanting to go do a postal vote, they’ll be waiting for them and they won’t receive it because they were all dumped in my bin.”
Liberal Senator Paul Scarr, whose office mailed the votes to begin with, said that he was disappointed by the news that an Australia Post worker was dumping votes and feared that it might not be an isolated event.
Considering that a delivery of postal votes like this costs around $13,000, it is entirely reasonable to expect that the delivery is actually made.
“I think people have a right to expect better from Australia Post – and it raises a lot of questions in my mind. How widespread is it? I expect as a customer of Australia Post, for them to deliver the mail, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Labor also condemned the action with the Shadow Treasurer Jim Charlmers saying that Labor found it ‘deeply concerning’. “What happened there was completely unacceptable. Completely and utterly unacceptable.”
The Queensland seat of Blair where the incident took place is held by Labor’s Shayne Neumann and being contested by seven others, including the Coalition candidate Sam Biggins, Greens candidate Danielle Mutton, and the ‘Freedom-Friendly’ parties including Michelle Jaques from the Liberal Democrats, Liz Suduk from One Nation and Quinton Cunningham from the UAP.
Several election reforms have been made in 2022 with the intention of cleaning up the election process and making it more difficult for any form of fraud to occur. Sadly, this doesn’t include mailmen tossing out postal votes.