The proposal, based on a recommendation from parliament’s electoral matters committee, would force people to produce identification such as a driver’s licence or Medicare card in order to vote.
The government has indicated it would want the changes implemented by the next federal election, due to be held by May 2022.
The opposition, who have labelled the proposal as racist, said it would lead to long lines at polling booths, while also disenfranchising the homeless, those fleeing domestic violence, the elderly and people in remote Indigenous communities.
In introducing the bill, cabinet minister Angus Taylor said the bill would reduce the risk of people voting multiple times.
“This will bring Australia into line with other liberal democracies such as Canada and Sweden,” Taylor said.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the move tried to bring the politics of former US president Donald Trump into Australia.
“This is a desperate attempt to undermine our strong democracy and deny Australians their basic democratic rights,” Albanese said.
“On the eve of an election, the Morrison-Joyce government is trying to ram through a bill to stop Australians voting.”
Albanese said voter fraud was “vanishingly small” in Australia and the proposed changes were not needed.
Critics of the bill have likened the proposal to US-style voter suppression.
The opposition unsuccessfully tried to defer debate on the issue until 2023, after the next federal election.
The bill allows for people to have their identity attested by another person on the electoral roll who does have identification.
Voters could also cast a declaration vote, where voting credentials would be checked later, if they did not have ID.
The government also introduced legislation allowing the Australian Electoral Commission to have contingency measures for elections if an emergency, such as a COVID-19 outbreak, was declared.
The bill would allow for voting to be suspended at certain polling or pre-polling booths.
Scrutinising of votes would also be delayed if polling was suspended at a location.Jump to next article