The Newman government in Queensland has been likened to that of Joh Bjelke-Petersen's era for considering the abolition of compulsory voting in state elections.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie on Thursday released a discussion paper unveiling a raft of possible reforms that will be put up for public consultation, including whether voting should be a choice.
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan says he is stunned the Queensland government is considering the proposal.
"I thought I was back in the Joh era when I got up and read the paper this morning," he told reporters on the Sunshine Coast.
"I thought: 'Has Queensland just gone back 30 years?'
Mr Swan suggested the idea, along with other proposed changes, might be an attempt to stop dissenters voting against the government at the next state election.
"It appears the new government is going to do everything it possibly can to stop Queenslanders from having a say about their cruel cuts to services that they never outlined prior to the election," he said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard backed his comments, urging her Twitter followers to fight any change.
"Don't let the Liberals make our democracy the plaything of cashed-up interest groups," she posted.
However, Mr Bleijie says the government has no current stance either way and released the discussion paper to uphold integrity and accountability.
"Fair and effective electoral laws are central to the promotion of participation in our democracy," he said in a statement.
The discussion paper quoted a 1996 federal parliamentary committee report that supported the abolition of compulsory voting to ensure Australia was considered a "mature democracy".
The report argued that voting could only be considered a 'right' if people could exercise a 'right' not to vote.
But it also suggested the removal of compulsory voting could cause "voter confusion", because it would not apply to federal or local elections.
Queensland has had compulsory voting since 1915.
Other topics for discussion include whether political donations from corporations or unions should be banned and whether there should be changes to how-to-vote cards and political advertising.
The submission period is open until March 1.