By Elly Bradfield and Sebastian Sinclair
Prisoners serving sentences under three years have had the right to vote in elections restored.
Federal Parliament has ratified a High Court decision to overturn the previous government’s ban prisoners voting rights.
Like other Austrailan citizens, prisoners will be given seven days to enrol after election writs are issued.
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope welcomed the move.
“Prisoners are in prison as punishment not for punishment,” he said. “They continue to be human beings.”
The High Court ruled the ban denying prisoners the right to vote was unconstitutional in a judgment handed down four years ago.
Similar laws prohibiting prisoners from voting have been struck down by courts in Europe and Canada.
Catholic Prison Ministry coordinator Dave Martin says voting is a basic human right regardless of whether you are a prisoner or not.
“I don’t think there is any logical argument against someone who has broken the law whether they should have the right to vote, ” he said.
“They are going to be returning to the community within any political cycle and therefore should be maintaining the right to vote.”
Homicide Victims Support Group general manager Ross Thompson criticised the move.
He says prisoners should not have the same rights as other citizens.
“I believe that those sort of people should not have the rights of being able to have a vote,” he said.
“The have taken away the right of all the people they have defended against and its not a just system if they are allowed to vote.”
The Federal Opposition has also criticised the move.