As Australia continues to debate the voting rights of prisoners,
news yesterday was that voting had begun in the referendum on the new
Iraqi constitution,
with the first votes cast by detainees in American military prisons:
“About 10,000 inmates have been authorised to exercise their democratic
right in the notorious US-run Abu Ghraib prison and Camp Bucca and
other Iraqi detention centres.”

“It is not known if the country’s most famous prisoner, ousted
dictator Saddam Hussein, will cast his ballot.” Nor, apparently, was
any reaction sought from Eric Abetz.

Democrats Senator Andrew Murray, however, has kindly sent us a copy
of his speech of last Thursday on the issue, in which he made some
excellent points, such as the following:

“I heard the minister earlier today refer to the case of an
outrageous ratbag such as Ivan Milat having the vote. But the fact is
that he is being punished for his crime by the removal of his liberty.
That punishment does not then withdraw from him duties and rights as a
citizen. For instance, were he to have investments and earn income—and
I do not know if he does or does not—he is obligated to pay taxes, he
has to put in tax returns and that tax money is used by the government.
Does the government say, ‘This is tainted money; we won’t touch it’? Of
course it does not. It says, ‘We will use that money.'”

Another reader has drawn our attention to the debate in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on 22 September, when an opposition bill to deny votes to prisoners was defeated.

Speaking for the government, the member for Liverpool, Paul Lynch,
delivered this gem: “Obsessed with individual achievement at the
expense of community benefit, criminals are inherently Liberal Party
voters. I dare say, in the case of the honourable member for Davidson,
criminals are inherently Liberal Party branch members.”

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.