Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan says the Queensland Government wants to scrap compulsory voting in order to stifle debate on public service job cuts.

State Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has released a discussion paper on electoral reforms, including .

Australia is one of only around 20 democracies where voting is compulsory.

Mr Swan says the "absolutely stunning" proposal is aimed at stopping voters having a say on the state's decision to cut around 14,000 public service jobs.

"The Queensland Government is doing everything it can to stop Queenslanders have a say about their cruel cuts, which they never outlined, prior to the next election," he said.

"They appear determined to stop voters having their say at the ballot box because as I understand it, not only is there a proposition for voluntary voting, there is a proposition to make it harder for Queenslanders to actually go and vote in the first place, irrespective of whether it's compulsory or voluntary."

Mr Swan says the proposal harks back to the era of former conservative Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

"These are the tactics of the Tea Party in the United States, trying to stop people from exercising their democratic rights.

"I think that's what lies at the core of this Joh era-style proposal which has emerged from the Newman Government today."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard also lashed out at the proposal.

"Fight @theqldpremier's plan to end compulsory voting. Don't let the Liberals make our democracy the plaything of cashed-up interest groups JG," she .

'Change unlikely'

Mr Bleijie had earlier said the State Government had no firm position on scrapping compulsory voting.

"There's arguments in favour of compulsory voting - that is no-one should whinge about governments they elect because they all had the chance to vote," he said.

"The options against it is the people who don't want to vote, they say we have the right not to vote."

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek says he would support the change.

"It is something we've had since 1915, so these are not the sorts of changes you make without having a discussion," he said.

"If you're motivated enough you should be able to have a say, but if you don't want to... then we should not be making them do it."

But ABC election analyst Antony Green says change is unlikely.

"I just don't think the party organisations themselves are that interested, even though parts of the party membership are," he said.

Mr Green says parties would have to campaign at their own expense to encourage people to vote.

Donation showdown

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU), meanwhile, says it will oppose any move to scrap compulsory voting.

The electoral reforms review will also consider a ban on political donations from corporations and unions.

Mr Bleijie says that removes the spectre of undue influence from corporations or unions.

"If you have this law then it should apply to everyone, not give specific exclusions because it might support one political party over another," he said.

He also wants feedback on whether members of an organisation should be required to vote before a donation is made.

That has angered QCU president John Battams.

"Even in the worst years of the Howard government, there was no attempt to restrict what trade unions could do in terms of donating money," he said.

Submissions to the review will be accepted until March 1.

 

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