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The new electoral law that will deliver tens of millions to parties

The major political parties stand to reap up over $20 million dollars from taxpayers over coming elections via draconian new “automatic enrolment” laws that would enable the Electoral Commission to automatically enrol people without their consent using information obtained from any source.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray yesterday introduced the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Protecting Elector Participation) Bill, designed to address the growing disparity between electoral enrolment and population growth. It is estimated that up to 1.6 million Australians are not currently enrolled.

The bill would enable the Electoral Commission to add people to the electoral roll once it obtains information about their residential address, regardless of whether they have applied to enrol. The bill does not limit what information the commission can access and use, merely that the commission must be satisfied that the person is entitled to enrol and that they have lived at an address for one month. The commission will then write to the person and enrol them unless they can show they shouldn’t be.

The automatic enrolment process would open up individuals to the punitive compulsory voting system, whereby people who choose not to vote are threatened with fines. The bill would also enable the commission to store and use electronic data about people, such as email addresses.

The growing disparity between enrolments and population — primarily among younger people who have no interest in politics and no interest in voting — and the surge in informal voting by people disgusted with contemporary politics has deeply alarmed the major political parties, who receive public funding for each formal vote they receive at an indexed rate (currently $2.42 a vote). At the 2010 election, the surge in informal voting from just under 4% to over 5% of all votes cost all parties over $1 million in funding, while the disparity between enrolment and population cost them $6.8 million in funding.

Automatic enrolment has the potential to move a huge proportion of unenrolled people onto the rolls as the Electoral Commission taps public and government information, including information collated by state governments such as drivers’ licences, to locate where people live and their email addresses. Even with limited success, the process could see over $25 million in additional funding delivered to parties over the next three elections as rolls catch up with population growth and indexation drives up the level of public funding. Labor and the Coalition stand to get about 80% of that on current voting patterns.

This is a further step along the road of state surveillance, with the commission — which is merely implementing the law as established by the major political parties — given carte blanche to use information from any source for the purposes of dragging unwilling citizens into the compulsory voting framework (that’s the one we share with the likes of the Congo and Ecuador). But automatic enrolment, which began in NSW and then spread to Victoria, received little criticism — the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, notably, opposed it, but criticism has otherwise been muted.

You might have thought GetUp, that bandwagon-hopping proponent of progressive causes, might have opposed an extension of state surveillance power, but in fact the group strongly supports forcing people onto the electoral rolls whether they like it or not.

Possibly that’s for the same reason so many on the progressive side of politics support punitive voting systems, under the mistaken belief that compelling people to vote maximises the vote for non-conservative parties.

Compulsory voting and automatic enrolment infantilises Australians. Its supporters — academics and paternalistic progressives — talk of strengthening democracy by moving people into the compulsory voting framework. In fact, many of those people are already expressing their political views, by switching off in disgust and refusing to participate in a party system they believe courts their vote but doesn’t listen to them.

It’s interesting as well that the mainstream media have been quiet on the issue — even News Limited, which is normally profoundly paranoid about anything Labor does, and ready to scream about a left-wing conspiracy and a threat to liberty from virtually any distance, has been silent.

That might be because, well, what do political parties do with their money? They spend it on advertising. The parties might get an extra $25 million from these changes, but it will end up in the pockets of ad agencies, marketing firms and, above all, television, radio and newspaper outlets.

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  • 1
    susan winstanley
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    What a load of juvenile libertarian codswallop Bernard

  • 2
    joshd
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a proposition, guaranteed to spark a bit of banter over dinner.

    Voting is a right, and a responsibility, so it can’t be assumed automatically.

    It also has a use-by date - 50 years of voting is say enough for anyone, surely. THe nation’s polity has been cast in your image, or not, and it’s time for the next generation to have a stronger proportional say in their own future.

    So, the proposition is - we all get to vote for 50 years. BUT we get to choose when that 50 years starts, and registering is a positive choice to start the 50 year clock.

    Give disinterested youth a real choice.

    There are many hidden and not-so-hidden aspects to this, and it’s not as crazy as it seems!

    Have fun bringing it up at dinner, especially with the parents!
    JD

  • 3
    David Lilley
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    As voting is compulsory in this country, and I’m ok with that, and somepeople can’t be bothered to fulfill their lawful obligations, I have no problem in these people being ‘roped in’ to the electoral system. Political parties scoring a financial boon as a consequence, I am less fond about. Let’s hope they all vote informal.

  • 4
    Arty
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    David Lilley: Maybe we need to make voting a desirable activity. Maybe have lucky door prizes at every polling booth.

    JoshD: How about we deny the right to vote until age 30?

  • 5
    Barry Brannan
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Yeah it’s all about the money. Because the principles couldn’t possibly be valid, that must be it, right?

    Let’s make democracy easier for people. No more filling out more pointless forms that need to be posted using old-fashioned snail mail.

  • 6
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I see voting as an obligation.

  • 7
    Jim Reiher
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I quite like the idea of being the only democracy in the world that has compulsory voting. I think it is really quite a sensible balance between rights and responsibilities.

    The sad thing is that in a country that has compulsory voting, we don’t have compulsory understanding of how the system works. It is not a core required subject for all 17 year olds….

    We seem very keen to actually keep as much of the population ignorant of how the system works, as possible. Perhaps people are easier to manipulate if they are reasonably ignorant.

  • 8
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    If you don’t vote, your voice is not heard. Even an increase in the informal vote would be louder than sulking (or not knowing how to get on the damn register in the first place).

  • 9
    Mark Heydon
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    This’d be the comments troll you tweeted about this morning, eh, Bernard?

  • 10
    Peter Evans
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Jim Reiher - there are 10 countries with compulsory voting. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, DRC, Ecuador, Luxembourg, Nauru, Peru, Singapore and Uruguay. Bit of a South American flavour!

    Anyway, there’s pros and cons. Leaving aside the well known pros, one con that annoys me is that there’s a certain appeal to base motives in so-called “outer suburban” seats. I don’t think the ludicrous (and downright racist) and hysterical blether about “boat people” would be so bad if not for the effort to sway the votes of, I dunno - 20%, people who have to turn up but decide on the day.

  • 11
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I agree with David Lilley and Barry Brannan

    Why force people to trip down to their post office for that dinky little green card printed on dead trees and dispatch it by snails when the Australian Electoral Commission already has access to precisely the same information that we scrawled on the card (USE BLOCK LETTERS ONLY).

    Next Keane will be arguing that citizens should be required to enrol separately - by paper - for jury service. Incidentally, what is Keane’s position on compulsory jury service? I presume he opposes on the grounds that jury service should be only for those who are interested and support either plaintiffs or defendants.

  • 12
    Superdry
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Quit complaining Bernard. Democracy isn’t optional in this country.

    Perhaps you want an American style system run by special interest
    groups.

    This isn’t about the money or about the system, its about a responsibility.

  • 13
    paddy
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    ROTFL That’s two trolls in as many days Bernard.
    I suppose you can be forgiven because it really *is* troll Thursday today. :)

  • 14
    Jim Reiher
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Indeed: if someone wants to NOT vote, they go to the polling booth, get their name ticked off, get their ballot paper, and then DONT fill it in. Then fold it nicely and put it in the box. That way they still get to choose not to vote, while fulfilling their duty as a citizen, to turn up at a polling station and get their name ticked off. Choice (to vote or not to vote) and duty (to at least participate by showing up) in a democracy… it is all there. And like an earlier note said: informal votes speak louder than not turning up!

  • 15
    tinman_au
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Voting is part of the social (and legal) contract for living in Australia. If people don’t like it, several other countries offer various other systems they might like. It’s nice to have a choice and everything comes at a price (like compulsory voting and the fact we aren’t a republic).

    It’s like a lead light window that depicts a scene and casts certain hues and tones to the light in the room. Change a few of the panes, and it changes everything you see in the room.

    As far as I can tell (and IMHO), our system works better than most other places. We have an exceptionally stable government and economy (even with all the prancing ponies/poodles in Canberra), and no one goes without care if they really need it, so why should we change things (especially things that would just make us more like the US)?

  • 16
    rossco
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Will the Electoral Commission be able to identify people who are long term residents in Australia but not citizens? I understand you have to be a citizen to enrol but the automatic enrolment process would appear to override that.

    I support in principle the concept of all citizens being enrolled and required to attend a polling booth to get their name crossed off - it is not compulsory voting as the high informal vote indicates.

  • 17
    wilful
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m really disappointed in the way that Keane has launched into a broadside against compulsory voting. Totally about his personal views, no discussion of the merits of the system, no canvassing alternative views.

    if i want ill-informed opinion writing telling me what to think, I’ll read the Australian.

  • 18
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Presumably the commission will require matching with a birth or citizenship certificate before enrolling someone.

  • 19
    Andrew Davison
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    It’s not often I disagree with Bernard, so I came here to comment.
    As usual, I’m late to the party and my thoughts have already been
    said. Well.

  • 20
    Khupert the Runt
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Bernard but this doesn’t do it for me, especially this:

    Compulsory voting and automatic enrolment infantilises Australians. Its supporters — academics and paternalistic progressives — talk of strengthening democracy by moving people into the compulsory voting framework. In fact, many of those people are already expressing their political views, by switching off in disgust and refusing to participate in a party system they believe courts their vote but doesn’t listen to them.”

    If we have a lousy government we should all feel better knowing that a REAL majority voted it in as opposed to a majority of the say 60% percent (perhaps less than a third of the population) who turned out, (like the UK and US).

    Compulsory voting absolutely does NOT equate to participation in a party system. The opposite in fact. Independents and small parties get a much better chance in a compulsory system.

    Finally for my money - those too lazy to even lodge an informal vote expressing their disgust (itself a valid expression of view) deserve to be fined.

  • 21
    Edward James
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    The automatic enrolment process would open up individuals to the punitive compulsory voting system, whereby people who choose not to vote are threatened with fines. Bernard. Compulsory voting is a fiction, you should know better than to circulate that myth! Australian citizens are required to have their name crossed off the electoral roll. That done what they do with their ballot paper before they put it in the ballot box is no ones business but their own. Many of us understand there is a cash bounty on each vote a party or candidate attracts, above I think four percent of the vote pool. The two parties not much preferred receive millions of taxpayers money no matter which party wins. That is one good reason for exercising your vote and directing your own preferences by numbering all the boxes below the line. Most disliked politician last hopefully ensuring that politician is not left to enjoy a few years tax payer funded Rn R on the opposition benches. If a party or politician dose not make the percentage quota they are not entitled to a dividend, for simply standing. There are too many dead wood politicians just serving time until they are eligible for an indexed pension for life. Something most of us self funded retirees fund for them with our taxes. But can only dream about for ourselves.
    Edward James http://bit.ly/EJ_PNewsAds

  • 22
    Bohemian
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Voting in my view is a right that has to be exercised not mandated. If you want a continuance of this nanny state where vaccinations become mandatory, school lunches policed by health department officials, cavity searches become the norm at airports and other totalitarian predilections, then make sure you support leaders whose audacity is only overshadowed by their mendacity no matter which side of the phony divide they purport to represent.

  • 23
    James K
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I think the term ‘nanny state” has been used very poorly in recent times. The Coalition like to use the term to mock whatever new innovations Labor suggests, while they themselves committed the largest single act of nanny-statism in the last 50 by bringing in the NT Intervention legislation.

    I try to avoid the term because it is so emotive and … really… quite a useless phrase. To consistently reject a nanny state framework, would be to not have any laws, any compulsion for anything, ever. So really… we all fall on the spectrum somewhere, and some are willing to do “nanny state” type things at times (like the NT intervention, or ban swearing on the streets of Melbourne) and then ridicule others who want to do it for other things (like keeping compulsory voting, or mandatory seat belt laws, or no phones while driving, or no smoking in public places, or whatever!)

  • 24
    Bohemian
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    And your point is……

  • 25
    Jackol
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, you’re just wrong on this. You’re really railing at compulsory voting, and misdirecting your wrath about that terrible injustice onto this move for automatic enrolment. Without the evil of compulsory voting, I’m sure you’d be more than happy to celebrate mechanisms that ensure that the franchise is spread to as many people as possible.

    So, this whole article is simply wrong. Whether or not you agree with compulsory voting - and obviously you don’t agree with it - has nothing to do with whether automatic enrolment is a good idea or not; you haven’t made any case against automatic enrolment here.

    So called “compulsory voting” is anything but anyway - you won’t get thrown in jail for failing to vote. You might get a $50 fine if you can’t make up some weasel words explaining why you didn’t show up on the day, but that’s hardly a human rights violation as you seem to make out here.

    As many others have pointed out, there aren’t that many universal obligations placed on you as a citizen - obliging people to turn up at a polling place every couple of years is hardly onerous, and as always if you really don’t want to vote for one of the clowns on your ballot paper, no one is standing over your shoulder checking that you have voted correctly…

    Oh, and just to reinforce your non-argument, you chuck in “oh noes, that money is going to go into advertising!” and therefore it is not worthy. Once again, what does this have to do with automatic enrolment, which is the topic at hand? Your complaint is with the public electoral funding mechanism here - giving public money to candidates who might - shock horror - spend it on advertising.

    A very poorly constructed argument all around. A scattergun of complaints all missing the actual target - automatic enrolment.

    Do try to keep your radical libertarianism in check, Bernard, or you’ll become unreadable.

  • 26
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    … that simply calling a measure ‘nanny state’ doesn’t advance the argument at all. It is better to explain why one supports some government actions and opposes others, and preferable to propose a principle for deciding which are thought desirable actions and which are not.

  • 27
    Timothy Reichle
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    We don’t have compulsory voting.

    You just have to formally make you’re choice not to vote/

  • 28
    James K
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Gavin: exactly.
    Bohemian - my point was that to use the term undermines discussion of issues.

  • 29
    James K
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Gavin: exactly.
    Bohemian - my point was that to use the term undermines discussion of issues.
    You can not hold that principle (anti nanny state) consistently.

  • 30
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Compulsory enrolment naturally goes with compulsory voting.
    The uniqueness of compulsory voting should be preserved, it has
    served us well and added a dimension of responsibity to our
    democracy not evident anywhere else.
    This proposed piece of legislation is completely contrary to
    Howard’s effort to close off rolls early to specifically disenfranchise a
    considerable number of our young voters.
    The argument presented about tax payer funded election campaigns
    is spurious.
    Gray’s proposal is about the franchise and compulsory nature of our
    participation in the government selection.
    Tax payer funded election contestant’s campaign is an effort to thwart
    the US example of moneyed corporates running the country.
    We get enough of that through the influence of the Murdoch press

  • 31
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    JimR - actually we are NOT the only democracy with compulsory voting - Belgium springs immediately to mind among other, less salubrious, regimes.
    I am opposed, in principia to compulsory voting but, having seen the results in UK & USA of >60% turnout (which gave the world both Thatcher & Raygun in the 80s with the baleful results which we are still suffering, I reluctantly accept it.

  • 32
    James K
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    AR you raise an interesting point. If Wikipedia can be trusted…

    These are the 10 countries that enforce compulsory voting:

    Argentina – Compulsory for citizens between 18 and 70 years old, non-compulsory for those older than 70. However in primaries, citizens under 70 may refuse to vote, if they formally express their decision to the electoral authorities, at least 48 hours before the election. This is valid only for the subsequent primary, and needs to be repeated every time the voter wishes not to participate.)

    Australia – Compulsory enrolment and voting for state and national elections for all eligible adults (18 and above). In some states local council elections are compulsory too.[8]

    Brazil[9] – Non-compulsory for citizens between 16 and 18 years old, those older than 70 and illiterate people.

    Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Ecuador – Compulsory for citizens between 18 and 65 years old; non-compulsory for citizens aged 16–18, illiterate people, and those older than 65.

    Luxembourg – Only for the regionals and if signed up

    Nauru

    Peru – Compulsory for citizens between 18 and 70 years old, non-compulsory for those older than 70

    Singapore[10] – Compulsory for citizens above 21 years old on the 1st of January of the year of election

    Uruguay

    (Not sure which of them is are real democracys and which are not…. I am always suspicious of countries with titles that include the word “Democratic”… as if they need to convince themselves how fair and wonderful they are!)

    The article then has a list of countries where it is “supposedly compulsory but not enforced”, including Belgium.

  • 33
    AR
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Jims R & K - please excuse my typo, it should have been having seen the results in UK & USA of <60% turnout .
    On tuther hand, those northern euroids (who’ve experienced some nasty regimes or the consequences thereof) regularly have turnouts in excess of 80/90% without compulsion.
    As always, in the Sainted Donald Horne’s intended meaning, this is one “Lucky Country” - we barrel along, happily and comfortably, despite the appalling inadequacy of our pollies & ruling Establishment.

  • 34
    robinw
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I find myself in a bind. As I see it, on the one hand we have one bunch who under extremely trying circumstances are getting some things done, whether for better or worse we will have to wait. However, this bunch couldn’t sell snow in the Sahara to a dehydrated and dying group of billionaires and are thus judged poorly. These are correctly judged collectivist.

    On the other side we have a bunch of Lilliputian forelock tuggers whose only interest is in the rich side of town. Howls of protestation about their love of the humble, the meek and the poor are to my mind total bollocks, their history really has proven that. This group, unlike the above, see themselves as heroically individualistic, I see them as collectivist as the would be snow sellers.

    And then out on the fringes we have some genuine independents, some of whom I agree with and others who I don’t but at least they are not herd animals like the aforementioned major two. And then we come to the Greens… My money is that they too will become herd like, bovine as the others, the signs are already pointing that way even though my sentiment is mainly in their camp.

    Therefore, if I don’t have an independent who I can loosely agree with and thus vote for, then who the hell can I? And because of proportional representation, my vote will then in all likelihood be hived off to one of the two majors who I despise. Therefore, is it a waste of a vote or an abnegation of my democratic responsibilities for not wanting to give any of them my stamp of approval? Sometimes not voting can be a political statement and an electoral direction as well.

  • 35
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Yes, that is the strongest argument for compulsory voting for me. With voluntary voting parties have to mobilise their base to get out the vote, which they do by appealing to the strongest views on each side.

    In contrast with compulsory voting parties are sure of their base vote and so converge on the middle to attract swinging voters from the other side.

    The outcome is more extreme parties and governments in countries with voluntary voting and more centrist parties and governments in Australia with compulsory voting.

  • 36
    wothers
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Bernard but I don’t think letting the country drift off into a nether world dominated by paranoid government conspiracy nutters like the US has anything going for it. Given all the enormous benefits this country provides like social security and healthcare, is shifting your fat arse off the couch and waddling down to a voting booth every four years really too much to ask???

    This idea that compulsory voting “infantalises” people is codswallop- if you are so pissed off with the system just go and write “none of the above” on your ballot and get your name ticked off - I’ve done it before. If your really pissed off, why not let everybody know about it.

    Lets suppose it takes 1 hour to record your vote every 4 years. That means that out of every 4 years, the Government expects us to give up 0.003% of of precious lives over the four years and get our name ticked off. Sorry, Bernard, you have really lost me on this one.

  • 37
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    The reason most politicians would give (certainly used to in my experience) \
    for supporting compulsory voting was that it could save your seat from
    single issue fanatics (like the Right to Lifers, for just the most obvious
    example. There is much merit in that argument.

    Likewise the idea that a politcian might have to spend much of his time
    and effort in just getting people to bother to vote, as in America, is pretty
    horrifying when you consider what excesses it leads to and would, almost
    inevitably lead to even in Australia. Part of that problem is what has to be
    done to raise the money for the campaign.

    That said, it would be equally horrifying if compulsory voting applied in
    the States. What chance would there have been for the 90s free trade policies
    which were so important to the growth of world prosperity?

  • 38
    Bohemian
    Posted Thursday, 16 February 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    @James K.
    I don’t like governments mandating anything. The idea that we need a contract with the State i.e. it pays us money, takes over our lives and we do what we are told under threat of gaol is a bad idea in my view. The only contract I am interested in having with the State is in return for us allowing their sorry asses to sponge off us indefinitely is they provide us with protection from criminals and invading armies.

    They are not very effective at providing protection against criminals and they appear compelled in the absence of invading armies, to send us overseas to invade other people to fulfil that side of the arrangement. I suspect that being charitable is normally distributed in the population and with a little tugging at the heart strings, many may even be persuaded to move one standard deviation to the right of the mean How about, instead of Hobson’s choice offered by the State, we reverted to being chartable like we were not that long ago? Just remember that almost all personal charity came to a halt after the State in its beneficence decided to tax the people and pay it to the Qld flood victims without asking us. When the State intervenes we stop taking personal responsibility for our own lives and stop thinking of the welfare of others.

    Some seem to think that the State’s involvement in every aspect of our lives is a good thing but to my thinking they should get the hell out of the way. We are more stressed, more governed and less free than we have ever been in this country so why are we letting it happen? Whenever the State gets involved with anything, the price doubles and some corporate donor gets a windfall whether it be Big Pharma, Big Weapons, Big Building, Big Mining or any other monolith that has grown up around us over the last thirty years.

    Whatever socialism was meant to be, it turned into the wholesale the extraction of wealth from the middle classes passed onto the Big Corporate donors via welfare recipients and other need based segments of the population. Now everybody thinks they are entitled. You should be mindful of the fact that families in the top two economic quintiles, when equivalised to disposable income fall out of those segments at a rate of 30-35% with the top quintile families dropping out at around 45% with singles and couples taking their places. Moreover the top 20% of income earners already pay two thirds of the personal taxes collected and the bottom 60% pay under 20% before equivalisation. The idea that the State does anything other than look after itself and its mates at the expense of families and everybody else for that matter is crap!

  • 39
    CML
    Posted Friday, 17 February 2012 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    I don’t agree with your article either, Bernard. Compulsory voting has been the law in this country for generations. Seems to work quite well?
    However, if you don’t like the idea, you could always emigrate to another country that has voluntary voting (or none at all)! How about Syria or Zimbabwe?!!
    That way you will be able to experience living in a dictatorship - enjoy!!!

  • 40
    tigor bertiosu
    Posted Friday, 17 February 2012 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    It is compulsory to turn up on voting day, but nobody can force me to vote.

  • 41
    Bellistner
    Posted Friday, 17 February 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    This has to be one of the silliest articles I’ve read anywhere, let alone on Crikey. This is, at best, a filler piece in The Oz, Daily Terror, or Curious Snail.

  • 42
    heysoos
    Posted Friday, 17 February 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Liberty is associated with (the mechanism of) democracy (universal suffrage) and cannot exist without responsibility.

    The closest thing to our four minute democratic orgasm that it takes to complete a ballot paper or two every two, three years (local, state, federal elections) is a very small small “price” to pay - a price I am grateful, happy and pleased to pay (despite living in Abbottland) - I just keep questioning the collective motivation of the majority of fellow residents.

    Happy voting - its a great relief every time!

  • 43
    Liz45
    Posted Saturday, 18 February 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I think there’s two issues here. One, compulsory voting (of which I agree with the majority here) and two, money for election campaigns. I have no problem with the current system, nor do I have a problem with people being ‘automatically’ added to the Electoral List..

    The monies for campaigns should be a set amount, and apply to all parties. The obscene amounts spent leading up to Election Day should cease. As should donations to political parties like wealthy mining companies etc. This would assist wiping out corruption. But it has to be fair and apply to all. I

    We’re becoming more and more like the US. Too many speeches with flags strategically places etc is nauseating! We could use the money for more housing, so that at least 100,000 of our citizens aren’t forced to sleep on the streets! Or funds for people with disabilities, or????

    I’m constantly surprised/amazed/ shocked by the lack of even basic knowledge of many in the community - such as ‘who’s the Deputy or the Minister of???’ Spending more on advertising isn’t going to raise the awareness of these people - they’re either stupid, ignorant or not interested, or all three!

  • 44
    Kent Jason
    Posted Sunday, 19 February 2012 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    People need to understand what democracy is, so that it works well. People need to understand that they have the power and the freedom to influence the way we are governed.

    Unfortunately, the way our government teaches this lesson, is to steal our freedom away from us. That’s how they remind us we’re free, by reminding us we’re not free.

    It is better to teach people about democracy and freedom by educating and informing people, rather than using threats and fines, and ultimately threats of violence. Remember, you can’t enforce any law without the threat of violence and the willingness to use it. I say we should follow the rest of the world and use peaceful means to teach people the value of democracy. That means political leaders the rely on their ability to inspire and motivate the electorate, rather than keeping their heads down so the swinging voters don’t chop them off.

    Only 9 countries in the world enforce compulsory voting, and many countries with voluntary voting have higher voter turnouts than we do, including Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Malta. Our turnouts are not nearly as high as some people think. The government likes to make a good impression so they promote our turnouts as 95%. They’re actually 81%, and probably a lot lower after the invalid and donkey votes are taken into account.

    People should vote because they want to vote, not merely to avoid a fine. All our system does is hide the truth and force people to conform. It steals peoples power, rather than empowering people. It also centralised our politics because the major parties don’t need to motivate their base - only the swinging voters at the centre. God forbid the major parties ever do both reach the centre, because then we can say goodbye to freedom altogether.

  • 45
    Posted Sunday, 19 February 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    What is the evidence for Australia’s election turn out being 81%? The Australian Electoral Commission reports a voter turnout in the 2010 federal election of 93%.

  • 46
    AR
    Posted Sunday, 19 February 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Gavin re Kent - despite the HawKeating change to “above the line” voting in the Senate - ostensibly to correct for the pig ignorant who couldn’t count beyond ten without removing their shoes, ie Labor voters as admitted by both of those ‘stars’ in oddly candid moments, the ABS Yearbooks & AEC returns consistently show approx. the same figures - 5% NO SHOW, 5%+ spoiled and (assumed) 6-9% donkey vote, ie just numbering 1 onwards from left to right.
    Even more intriguing is the AEC analysis (used to be free but, since mid 90’s, quite a high fee charged) of the “spoiled” ballots which list the “obscenities, comments and other notations” for which the major pay BigBuck$, esp in the marginals.

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