Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blog-tober - When My Mob Get In

If I could repeal any law in Australia, just one - and I know there are quite a few dodgy laws about the place - the law that would fall from the books would be the one the deems that voting is compulsory.

Shock horror! Not vote, I here you cry!

Well, here is my opinion on this - and I have thought at about this long and hard about this over many years.

See, I think that this law is outdated. (I'm ruffling a few feathers here)

For those reading this who aren't in Australia, we have a law - it is written in our constitution that when there is an election, it is mandatory that you have your name struck off the list and cast a ballot. If you do not vote, you get fined - at the moment it's about $100. Getting out of the fine can be done with a bit of creativity - just as concessions for early voting are available. In big elections, the electoral commission sets up early voting stations where you can vote - plus you can cast a postal vote if you get yourself organised in the weeks before an election. That takes a phone call or a bit of paperwork in the weeks leading up to it to get this done. When in London, for the big elections, I managed to get a ballot in - the other times, my mother told the government she had no idea where I was - I never got fined for not voting while overseas.

Regardless, in Australia, it is compulsory to vote in federal, state and local elections.

People from other countries find this a bit perplexing. A friend and I were travelling interstate by car one election day. My mate was amazed that at every place we stopped, people reminded us to vote. My friend was English. He couldn't get over this strange election day tradition, especially as he'd had his name removed from the electoral roll to dodge the poll tax many years before.

Before I got on as to why I think compulsory voting is wrong, let me say, I know fortunate I am to be in a country where we have free, democratic, safe, fair elections. I'm confident that the ballots aren't rigged or tampered with (unless you come from the Electorate of Warringah - where Tony Abbott resides as there member.) I know that our convoluted "Proportional Representational" system of voting has it's merits over the "First past the Post" method used in England. I'm glad we have paper ballots instead of those insidious ballot machines they have in America - which can stuff up as history has proved.

Most of all, I realise what an honour it is to be a woman and have the vote. Coming from South Australia, on of the first places in the world to grant women the vote, I know how hard won this right is, and was.

So no, I have nothing against voting.

I just think that having it as a compulsory civil activity is wrong.

Everybody has the right to vote.

By extension, everybody should have the right not to vote too - without the fear of a hundred dollar fine. Or just wasting your time turning up to the polling station only to spoil the ballot paper.

Making this election rigmarole a little more complex, having three levels of government means that we get called to the polls about once a year.

When it comes to the Federal Election, I turn up without complaint. It's good to state who, or at least which party, you prefer to run the country. The fact that the two main parties - Labor and Liberal are nearly mirror images of each other in policy is beside the point. Both are as bad as each other - though the Libs have a demented howler monkey for a leader... I love watching the election coverage after too. I was up for Portillo when he was ousted in England in 1997. Watching John Howard being dethroned ten years later was positively orgasmic. (another story for another time...)

State Government elections don't excite me as much. The guy we have her at the moment in Victoria is not doing the job they wanted him to do. My answer to that is that if you vote in a glorified real estate agent, what do you think is going to happen? I have a friend who's just leaving a job in one of the ministerial departments. Some of the stories she tells are horrific. Politics is not a job for the weak.

Today's election was to elect in the local government.

Big yawn.

I know I should get excited about the local elections. I'm also aware that I'm in a council area which is well run and fair. Many others around the country aren't so lucky - and we've seen some shockers over the years.

As far as I'm concerned, as long as the bins get emptied, the council swimming pool is clean, they don't go erecting multi-story buildings that don't fit with the area and they don't put in any more sleeping policemen in my street, I'm not too fussed.

Having an old colleague who is also a member of his local council - I got to see a bit more about the process of local government. As soon as this guy opened his mouth I tried running away - and fast.

It's just hard to get excited - let along interested about the local elections. I know I should, but I don't.

So today, after some hemming and harring, I made my way to the local school which is the nearest polling station. Not sure who I was going to vote for, I made the decision to cast a ballot for the first person who gave me a how to vote card.

Thank goodness it was the Greens who won the day. (And reading their election bumph, I agreed with everything the candidate was saying) Making my way around the obligatory sausage sizzle and avoiding all other souls bearing flyers, I had my name marked off, put the numbers in the boxes, shoved the folded paper in the box then went home.

It felt a bit irresponsible.

I like participating in elections. I'm the nuffer who fills in every box below the line on the senate ballot paper  - like I can count to 365 - I have time. It must piss off the scrutineers not voting on party lines.

Then again, I don't know how I would have gone if the Social Democrats or the Family First Party got to me first...the Family First party I find one of the most odious creations in Australian politics. Flies against every sensible thought that the Church and State should be SEPARATE - GOT THAT MR ABBOTT AND YOUR LOOPY MATES?!!

And this is where The Chaser has is right. On the mark as they are most of the time.


And here is where I believe that compulsory voting is wrong for Australia now. Voting doesn't make people care about who gets in. It doesn't make them think about their choices. It doesn't make them make a considered decision.

And it still stands what I say about voting today - if you don't vote and vote correctly, you instantly lose your right to whine about who is in power. At least you have your say if you vote. Just don't fine me if I chose not to say anything. Surely that is a right too.

Freeing Australia from compulsory voting could mean that those who want to have a say, have their say, leaving the apathetic, lazy and stupid to sit back on their arses and let people who give a damn make the choice

That seems fairer to all to me.

Pandora has spoken.

Oh, and what else would happen when my mob gets in?

On the list of things I would like to see happen:

Mandatory blood donation for those 18-60 (medical conditions excepted, of course)
Making the organ donation opt in documents legally binding so that families don't get to over ride the wishes of deceased.
Consistent road rules for all states in the country.
Ban all corporate lobbying
Public transport is better funded at a federal as well as state level.
More thought goes into environmental and health issues

Just don't ask me to stand for a seat. Couldn't do it. I get too frustrated by hypocrites and idiots.

1 comment:

The Elephant's Child said...

Yes. And yes on the ousting of little johnnie (how I danced and sang), and yes about the screaming howler monkey. We have just had state elections as well. Result - a hung parliament, with a Green yet to decide who will form government.
And since the ACT was formed as a seat for Parliament, I really resent being forced down the self government road. Particularly when sensible laws - think euthenasia, same sex marriage, can be overturned by the Feds.
Sorry. Long comment.