Mark Latham Encourages Protest Voting

By Cassie Ryan
Cassie Ryan
Cassie Ryan
August 16, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Former Labor leader Mark Latham said he would be handing in a blank paper. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Former Labor leader Mark Latham said he would be handing in a blank paper. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Mark Latham announced last night on Channel Nine’s “60 Minutes” that he will be casting a blank vote in this Saturday’s federal election.

The journalist and former Labor leader urged other Australians to follow suit in "the ultimate protest vote" because, in his opinion, the current political leaders do not deserve votes.

“When it comes to good ideas for Australia's future, Gillard and Abbott have given the voters a blank piece of paper," he said, according to a report by News Mail. "I say let's give them a blank piece of paper in return."

Laws do not prohibit the public from voicing opinions on casting an informal vote, Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Phil Diak told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"The Commonwealth Electoral Act doesn't contain an explicit provision that says you can't talk over your fence to a neighbour and say that you should cast a blank ballot paper at the election," he said.

However, there are restrictions to speaking about formal votes. "As I said before though, there are provisions around misleading someone about casting a formal vote," Diak added.

During a campaign for the Liberal Party in Perth, Western Australia, Former Prime Minister John Howard said he would never make such a recommendation, reported the West Australian.

"I would encourage every Australian to ignore what Mark Latham said," Mr Howard said. "I encourage every man and woman in Australia to exercise their democratic right.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Mr. Latham had given voters a "very, very bad bit of advice," according to The Age.

He also pointed out that prime minister Gillard once backed Mr. Latham for the Labor leadership. "Mark Latham and Julia Gillard were a two-person mutual admiration society," he said.

Cassie Ryan