Friday Flash Poll: Would you still vote if you had the choice?

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While the state of politics in Australia may be considered a shambles by some, our democratic system seems alive and well. Or is it?

Early polling began this week, with over 350,000 Australians already voting for the 2019 Federal Election, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.

Compulsory voting is the cornerstone of Australian democracy. Early voting takes the pressure off a notion to make the polls in a single day, but is it degrading the democratic process?

Critics of pre-polling say that the drawn-out process may be ruining the traditional election campaign.

“Early voting is not a level playing field. Recruiting and organising volunteers for three weeks is more of a challenge for smaller parties and independents than for the major parties. Larger parties with the luxury of enthusiastic volunteers can use early voting as a means of keeping them engaged for longer,” wrote Stephen Mills and Martin Drum for The Conversation.

“Our research also revealed other important campaign changes. Early voting means early policy announcements,” they added.

“Fine. But parties still hold back on providing the nitty-gritty of costings until late in the campaign. This may amount to releasing unpopular revenue measures in the final days of campaigning, and then claiming a mandate for them if they win. So early voters almost certainly cast their vote with incomplete knowledge of what the parties and candidates are offering.”

While compulsory voting prevents Australia from going down the unsavoury path of US politics (just think who would have been past presidents if the US had compulsory voting, and how different the world today might be), is convenience killing the efficacy of the election process?

“There’s an argument that because we have compulsory voting we should make it as easy as possible,” writes Caitlin Fitzsimmons for The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I don’t buy that given most Australians support compulsory voting and don’t regard it as a burden. We should make voting easy but not at any cost.”

In the last federal election, 30 per cent of votes were cast early. Australian National University Professor Ian McAllister that number could be as high as 50 per cent by the early 2020s.

There’s an argument that early voting enables Australians to make uninformed decisions, relying on loyalty to a party rather than casting votes for the best party to run the country.

“It’s a terrible trend,” writes Ms Fitzsimmons. “Our entire system of representative democracy with periodic elections depends on citizens making a collective decision at the same time with the same information. This is seriously undermined by convenience voting over an extended period of time. If a week is a long time in politics, three weeks is practically an epoch.”

But if it were a choice between early voting and non-compulsory voting, Australians may eschew the polls for want of better candidates.

Trust in politics is at an all-time low. According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, democracies around the globe are distrusted by 80 per cent of global citizens.

In Australia, democratic satisfaction has decreased steadily across each of the last four governments from 86 per cent in 2007 (John Howard), to 72 per cent in 2010 (Kevin Rudd), 72 per cent in 2013 (Tony Abbott) and 41 per cent in July 2018 (Malcolm Turnbull). It is estimated that by 2025, fewer than 10 per cent of Australians will trust government institutions and politicians.

So is being forced to choose the best of a bad lot a pathway to effective government? Or is compulsory voting and pre-polling actually saving our system? If you were given the choice to vote, would you still do it?

Why don’t you tell us what you think in today’s Friday Flash Poll?

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The quiz has closed. To read the results and member reaction, click here.

And, of course, we welcome your opinion in our comments section below.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

216 Comments

Total Comments: 216
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    Many of the problems in the USA are caused by their lack of compulory voting! I would HATE to see us go the same way! One of the cornerstones of our system is that we all have to vote, and dropping that requirement would lead to the awful scenario of politicians hassling people, trying to get them to come out and vote. For goodness’ sake, don’t advocate for voluntary voting! It would be a disaster!

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      Completely agree. A democratic system expects that all citizens should participate by demonstrating their views through voting. It makes parties work harder to present their policies to all, not just a target audience of rusted on voters. Preferential voting, though, is highly questionable simply because a voter’s choice has every chance of being co-opted to another party.

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      What a load of rubbish! Look at all the successful countries which don’t have compulsory voting! Why compare us with the US?

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      IN fact, voting isn’t compulsory. What is compulsory is turning up to a polling place and having your name marked off.
      So one can make the conscientious decision not to vote.

      However, I think that is a poor attitude. We should cherish having a democracy and being able to vote and hope all people do and make considered choices.

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      Yes, I agree Trump would probably not be there wrecking havoc if voting was compulsory in America.
      I think this last two weeks is too long so maybe shorten the early voting period.
      ScoMo on tv this morning was horrible. He was hateful and all he could talk about was Labor. Labor this, Labor that, ad nauseum! So, I really would like less time on this pre election period.
      It must be exhausting for all involved as well, whether we support them or not. A lot of people involved helping as well as electioneering and their families involved must be affected.
      I have voted already so I just want the results lol!

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      Paddington, that’s because he has nothing positive or progressive to say about the LNP. In fact for the last six years the PM be it Turnbull or Scumo have said more about what Labor did years ago than what the LNP is doing now: guess why? Do nothing so little to talk about. No energy policy, no environmental policy, no industry policy no vision for the future. Scumo would have a mantra of no electric cars long after the rest of the world stops making petrol and diesel autos. And remember who of which party said, “I dare Ford to close” Mr Hockey the then treasurer of the “jobs and growth party” and they all closed down under the LNP.

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      Other big problems with the USA version of democracy are the entrenched gerrymander and the electoral college system. These would be better replaced by an independent authority similar to the AEC. Examples at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/05/15/americas-most-gerrymandered-congressional-districts

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      The UK does not have compulsory voting and look at the mess they are in.

      Our voting system is, by and large, pretty good and superior to anything else around the world. The only change I would like to see is the removal of the above the line voting on the Senate paper. Alternatively if that is retained then anyone elected based upon that MUST remain a member of that party they were elected to represent or resign from the Senate.

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      The UK does not have compulsory voting and look at the mess they are in.

      Our voting system is, by and large, pretty good and superior to anything else around the world. The only change I would like to see is the removal of the above the line voting on the Senate paper. Alternatively if that is retained then anyone elected based upon that MUST remain a member of that party they were elected to represent or resign from the Senate.

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      Farside, I tried to access the Washington Post website and they won’t let me in unless I turn off ad blocker or pay the charges. Neither is acceptable to me.
      I’ve always thought the US voting system was very odd but the citizens know no better as they get little news about alternatives.

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      AutumnOz, there are plenty of examples if you search gerrymandered districts in your preferred search engine. There is another story on this issue at https://www.ranker.com/list/most-gerrymandered-districts-in-america/eric-vega

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      Tom Tank, i suggest you first look at the list of counties with compulsory voting and then let us know whose political system and economies you admire. I see that Mexico, Egypt, Libya, Greece, North Korea, Brazil and Argentina are amongst them. Yes I see what you mean about compulsory voting providing good government and booming economies! Get real, all it does is allow for the political status quo.

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      Infinityoz. The main reason that the USA has a lousy government is very similar to our own, vast amounts of tied or vested interest cash pumped into political parties with strings attached. Anyone who has lived in the US knows the political power of the vested interests and lobbyists, the NRA, no gun control and tens of thousands of deaths annually; the oil and mining industries, no climate control. Australia proves that uncontrolled political donations corrupt, the USA proves that they corrupt absolutely. If you think compulsory voting ensures good democracy, ask the people of North Korea, Egypt, Libya, Mexico, Brazil, Greece and Argentina how it works out for them?

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    Will possibly/probably vote informal this time due to insufficient choice in my electorate. Compulsory preferential is the antithesis of democracy. Why should I give any preference to those whose policies I reject, just to make my vote valid? Optional preferential is democratic. But I do definitely support compulsory voting.

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      As long as you don’t do a donkey vote, Straydays. That will only benefit some random (maybe crazy) candidate first on the ticket.

      Will you still vote in the Senate? There is a wide choice there.

      What is optional preferential voting?

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      Straydays, don’t waste your vote, otherwise you are letting others decide who should rule, and you are also responsible for letting that happen. Remember, there are 3 Million+ Retirees who can make a difference, noting that 44 (out of 151) Lower House seats are currently on Margins of less than 5%. At least, vote OUT all non-performers!

      The best thing to do in the current situation is to be assign preferences very logically & purposefully – I recommend a strategy as follows:

      Put as No. 1 for your favourite candidate (supporting Retirees preferably – currently UAP is possible, with many other good policies, however it’s your choice),
      Put your No. 2 as the alternative one who you think can win and who may be acceptable to you,
      Put all extremists at the end (including Independents claiming to be able to fix Climate Change), and
      Put the remaining in between such that the sitting Major party MP is definitely below the alternative Major party candidate (always keeping the Greens, being extremists, near or at the end).

      If enough people do this, you will a) know you did your best, b) hopefully the useless sitting MP will lose their seat, and c) maybe even your preferred candidate has a chance to win.

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      GeorgeM why are you telling people to vote UAP? They practically have no policies that are good for anyone, and what is so wrong with the Greens? What you say is extreme is quite the opposite.

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      So true, musicveg. It’s simply madness to say the Greens are extreme AND NOT MENTION One Nation, some of the Nationals or Clive Palmer’s crazy UAP as extreme.

      As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Clive Palmer is baiting everyone on the entire political spectrum with some tidbit that appeals to the simple-minded. I read one pamphlet delivered in my letterbox that promised he would address climate change & protect the environment, despite your claim about him, GeorgeM.

      Palmer is simply harvesting the low hanging fruit of people dissatisfied with both Libs & Labor. Thoughtless people will be netted in his web, just as Pauline Hanson has done in the past. But please, don’t let Palmer hold the balance of power in the Senate, or we are in for more useless governing.

      Last time Palmer got up with his PUP party, all his Senators jumped ship to become Independents, because he couldn’t control them, (same as Pauline’s circus). But of course he can’t control them, because he HAS NO POLICIES, just useless promises. All he wants is your vote to give him power – not represent the people who vote for him.

      And the filthy rich bastard hasn’t paid his workers – our taxes paid out $70 million as compensation. He’s got a bloody hide even standing for election, given his shit record.

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      What gets me Hoohoo is Libs are putting UAP as there second preference in my electorate. We have a choice of Labor, Greens, Libs, UAP, two right wing Independents, and One Nation guy who does not even live in the electorate! So the Libs guy has put UAP second, Independent 3rd, Independent 4th, Labor 5th, Greens 6th and One Nation last. Our Labor candidate is only 30 years old and female, while the Greens guy is only 19! So what hope have we got here.

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      musicveg, I didn’t tell anyone to vote for UAP, only suggested it as an option as he DOES have a range of good policies – cutting down the Chinese takeover, process minerals here, heard he is considering universal age pension, etc, etc. I did say it’s “your choice”, but given the nasty track record of Liberals, Labor and Greens, any other choice with a change of direction in a positive way is welcome. I wouldn’t expect him to win the PM role or anywhere near that, but a few candidates to oppose Libs, Labor & Greens would be great. While I am not defending him, he simply used the system (for shutting down a company after siphoning off funds, with taxpayers paying workers) as set up by Liberals and Labor which has been used in the exact same manner by tens of thousands of companies – another reason to get rid of Liberal & Labor for setting up the loopholes fore their business mates. I am sure there are many other “rich” folks in parliament (including in Labor) not paying their fair share of taxes using the many loopholes – how come people don’t attack them?

      Greens on the other hand are the worst, toxic (anti-national) force in fact – will destroy the economy with their climate change targets, destroy morality with their gender agendas, and finally you can sit at the bottom of the garden smoking free marijuana awaiting your living wage without working! Get serious folks!

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      You sure have a warped view of the Green’s, just typical attitude towards a changing world. Morality was destroyed a long time ago, it is a matter of personal choice what your own morality is, can’t control people.

      Palmer just wants to dig up minerals for his own benefits. Great that he mentioned Universal Age pension but he won’t be able to make that change himself. He often fell asleep in Parliament when he was part of his Palmer party. Still wonder why Libs are putting UAP as their second preference in my electorate. Sounds like they expect him to help the LIbs.

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      It’s certainly not a “warped” view, musicveg, as the majority would have that view of the Greens. We have seen them over a long period of time. In addition to the points I mentioned, with their global citizen (refugees) approach, they will certainly destroy not only the economy, but all cultural systems here which make Australia a good country.

      I don’t agree that “Morality was destroyed a long time ago,…” – it still exists in large parts of the community – not sure where you live, but many we know still want to fight for what’s good for our children and grandchildren.

      On the other hand, unlike the Greens, I believe Clive is basically a good person interested in Australia and Australians, and more importantly his policies are correct for Australia – go check them for yourselves, as I am not his mouthpiece. As I said, I don’t expect him to become the PM, but his party can alter the stupid policies being pursued by Libs and Labor (with Greens attached) which have destroyed and will continue to destroy Australia and it’s people. We also have very little choice of whom to vote for at the moment (sensibly), and it is very much time to shake up the system.

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      I already checked out UAP and though he says a few things that I might agree with him, I don’t trust his self interest and also do not support nuclear power, that was what I disagree with the most because of the waste of nuclear power being stored for 100’s of years, those countries that use it have a huge problem with waste stockpiling. That has to be sorted out first. So I feel that Clive wants to open up the country to more mining so he can make more money. I agree with him saying we should stop selling off the country though. So hard to find one party that you can agree with all policies and also trust that they will follow through. I still think Green’s are not as bad as you say, they have instigated a lot of positive changes too. They are also support bringing back Government owned energy etc.
      Yes morality is alive and well for some people but what I meant is for some it was destroyed a long time ago and you cannot make people be moral if they do not want to.

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    Compulsory voting is itself undemocratic. The world,s only true democracy is Switzerland which doesn’t have compulsory voting. Only 10 countries in the world enforce voting. We do have at least the option to protest by casting an informal vote, which unfortunately not many people are aware of.

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      Actually Franky, there are 22 countries that have compulsory voting but, you’re partly correct in that only 10 of those enforce it. You may be interested to know that there are only 19 countries that are considered to be democratic so 10 out of 19 is a majority.

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      Franky, I agree but why does everyone keep saying we are a democracy. We are not and its clear to see. The system works like this. The parties make dishonest promises about what they will do with our money over the next ten years, they bribe us with our money. Once they get in they forget the people and their promises and do the bidding of their party funds paymasters be they big business, mining, the banks or the unions. Then three years later we go through the whole scharade again. Democracy is power by the people for the people, not power by corrupt parties for corrupt business. In a democracy the LNP would have wanted a banking royal commission for the people, but they didnt. In a democracy the LNP would want the best super system with low fees, they dont and Labor would not put thuggish unions above the law etc. etc. So what’s democratic about this and why should we be forced to vote for it?

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      Cosmo,
      First we are not obliged to vote, rather it’s just a matter of being crossed off the voting register.

      We are a democracy, there are few restrictions on standing for election and there is a free vote. I think the issues you raise arise largely from the average citizen being disengaged from the process. The interest groups are able to get their candidates up because they organise and use this organisation to take advantage of our apathy and willingness to form opinions on belief and imperfect information.

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      Farside, the parliament of this alleged multi-cultural country has disenfranised 40% of the population from taking an active role in politics because they are in fact what the politicians keep boasting about, they are multi-cultural. Then try getting pre-selection to either of the major parties on merit, if that were the case we would not have the political mess we currently do have. Any system that is there to serve vested interests rather than the people as a whole is not a democracy and there is no doubt that vested Interests are a higher priority than the people. I have mentioned banks, super and unions, but why do we allow gambling to destroy families, why won’t they move against companies that kill their workers, why isn’t stealing an employees wages by the millions or their super the same jailable crime as an employees taking money from the till? Its because the people don’t matter, we only vote!

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      Cosmo, perhaps the point you are identifying is that it is time for a new deal. Fewer people are voting for the majors and in those cases where one candidate does not achieve 50% in primary votes then the second placed candidate can win. Independents and minor parties have benefited from preference voting in both houses.

      The system is not there to serve the vested interests. It takes a concerted effort from the electorate to reject such interests and vote in favour of a strong local candidate even if on a narrow interest base e.g. Andrew Wilkie. Electorate apathy is what keeps the majors in power. You should vote for the candidate that you believe most closely reflects your values, wishes and priorities, even if your neighbours vote otherwise.

      You raise valid point in relation to the inequity of white collar crimes and negligence in governance but there are few votes in addressing these issues. Ditto gambling. I agree the penalties for governance breaches are woefully low; if it were up to me I would be extending culpability to the auditors who sign off on these frauds.

      I am not familiar with companies given a pass for killing workers but workplace deaths are rarely taken lightly.

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      Farside. I respect your posts but it is not true to say that the system doesn’t serve vested Interests. It does so right at the start of the process and it continues.
      I live in a National Party electorate, State and federal. We have had do nothing seat warmers for years but come election time they pour $millions of party funds paid by vested interests into mass TV, radio, print and poster/billboard, direct mail advertising. The electorate is around 200km in one direction. The local independent told me that last time after the election he was able to claim $60,000 after he had spent $100, 000 of his own money. Is this the democratic level playing field you are refering to? This is political vested political interests maintaining the status quo. Do you really think any independent would stand a chance against Clive Palmer’s $60 million advertising budget. You cannot argue against him being the total package of vested interest and we know from the past that he wont keep to any of the promises he has paid to broadcast to the nation. Our democracy is corrupted by unlimited funding of parties by vested interests be they business or unions and neither of the main parties has any intention of changing it. Your’s and my votes certainly wont.

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      I come from Switzerland, Franky. From 1968 I had to vote by law, I left the country in ’69 and with the introduction of women’s right to vote the compulsion of voting was abolished and it was a free decision to make use of the democratic right. I still have a vote in Switzerland but never make any use of it. Think that also excludes me from political office in this country, despite migrating here in 1970.
      Switzerland is doing quite nicely without compulsory voting, economy is fine and so is the unemployment rate. In fact it is doing so well that a visit there is too costly for us oldies. Came here 1$A being CHF 5.50 and now 1$A is CHF0.71. So you what I mean.

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      I might add Franky – after looking at my voting instructions from the AEC in my letterbox there are an amazing number of languages you call helping in voting. In Switzerland the voting papers are in the 4 national languages of the country: German, French, Italian and Romansh Grishun (an old language like Gaelic in Ireland and Scotland, although the Swiss version is based on Latin). I still believe if you do not understand the language you do not vote. With understanding the issues you know how to vote; in this country migrants are told how to vote.
      Voted this morning – never had to prove my identity – so much for democracy!! I remember the old Labor saying: Vote Early and Often.

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      Cowboy Jim, I agree with you, my wife is Swiss and we have the same exchange issues going back. We usually base north of the border in another non- compulsory voting country that seems prosperous, stable and progressive Germany which has one of the highest positive balance of payment levels of any country in the world. It’s odd really because these non compulsory voting European countires seem to be doing a bit better than North Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Libya and even Greece where they do have compulsory voting. Maybe we’d do better too!
      But you are right you couldn’t get into parliament, no foreign ideas allowed here mate, we’re making a big enough hash of things by ourselves without too many bright ideas from outside!

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      Cosmo, as I said it takes a concerted effort from the electorate to reject such interests and vote in favour of a strong local candidate, even if on a narrow interest base. It does not happen because of you or I voting so I agree this can be challenging but nevertheless it is possible for independents to get elected and it will happen more going forward. Trying to change the majors from within is futile because of resistance to change, be it progressive or conservative.

      Denison, Mayo and Indi showed it can happen in the Reps and this time around several blue riband seats in Vic may give it a dash, not to mention Abbott’s Warringah in NSW. It is even easier in the Senate.

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      Cowboy, Switzerland has a good story to tell for sure but the world, and in particular Australia, changed a lot after 1970. For instance, Australia soon after did away with USD backed gold standard and pegged the dollar to the TWI basket before floating its dollar in 1983. So at the time the exchange rate was roughly 1AUD was worth about 2CHF. You would have cleaned up if you had waited a couple of years to clean out those Swiss accounts of yours.

      You are right that people should not vote without understanding the issues however they do. Language is not the only barrier. Many voters are rusted on through tribal loyalties and vote with disregard to policies while others are disengaged from the political process and vote accordingly. That said, I still favour preferential voting though I acknowledge its weaknesses.

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      What do you mean Cosmo?, can’t get into parliament?, Mathieus Corrmann is from Belgium, didn’t stop him becoming a Finance Minister did it.

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      Misty, s44 of the constitution … these guys don’t want to give up their foreign citizenships

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      I’m enjoying the banter between Cosmo & Farside. I agree more with Cosmo but appreciate the exchange of ideas, WITH RESPECT. Such a difference to many of the posters who often appear on this forum. Thanks people.

      I’m all for compulsory voting, as at least it forces people to engage a bit – just hope they’re not so dull they just believe the last bit of propaganda they heard.

      On the subject of pre-polling, I think it’s good for people who aren’t interested in politics to be able to pre-vote. It might even dissuade the candidates from playing dirty tricks just before election day.

      Leon states “Critics of pre-polling say that the drawn-out process may be ruining the traditional election campaign” but I don’t care much at all for the drawn-out process of the traditional election campaign. I’m sick of vested interests pouring out the mouths of politicians during election campaigns, especially the interests of big business, unions & media moguls.

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      Hoohoo, many thanks for your thoughts and kind words. I have enjoyed the exchanges too. Despite the jibe at me for being a foreigner which I am happy to wear with pride. It all illustrates the farce of harmonious multi-culturalism. But then I live in a rural community that regards people living at the other end of the same electorate as foreigners so what can I change?
      As you say, it makes a refreshing change to find an intelligent person like Farside with whom to have a civil debate. Some of the abuse and offensive comments on this site sicken me. Of course in this debate which is centred on the best way to vote I inevitably got one person who said well if you don’t like it go and vote in another country! It seems to be a typical response to “there may be a better way of doing things,” ie “FO I don’t want to do things any better.” Again, the fact is that this debate was specifically about the merits or otherwise of compulsory voting, so if they don’t like other peoples views why join the debate? The irony is that I was asked to come back to Australia by the then Industry Minister to help make improvements, to make a difference, I failed.

      I respect your views on compulsory voting but it still beats me how it is not clearly a simple fact that if the ultimate aim is good government then this is unlikely to be achieved by compelling people who are totally disinterested in the subject and do not consider the respective offerings and arguments, to become part of the selection panel. It is after all very clear to us all that we are generally very disatisfied with the standard of Goverment that we get, so why not make changes to how we get it?

      I have the advantage of having lived and worked in many different parts of the world. In some of my formative years I lived in Sandinavia. These countries have relatively few raw materials but they are amongst the best educated, happiest, wealthiest most prosperous countries in the world. They don’t mind paying more tax for better services and good government. We by contrast have a PM who is abdicating government on behalf of the people by saying “even with the total purchasing power of the entire pupulation, we can’t do a better job at providing services than you can by yourselves, so we are giving you your money back!” No wonder when we buy at a cost of $1billion a fleet of military hellicopters that can’t fly in the dark or in the rain to be based in Nowra where it rains quite frequently; we build a fleet of submarines that cannot safely go to sea and submerge and by the time the US weapon systems were to be installed they were so out of date they were no longer made; we have brand new war ships that can’t go to sea becausee the engines don’t work. No wonder the Defence Minister has given up and resigned! So maybe the PM is right, they are incompetant at spending our money.

      Anyhow; thanks again for your kind words. However, you will not be seeing my alias appear here for much longer. Frankly I find the general level of debate very depressing so I will withdraw.

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      stick with it Cosmo, you never know how many of the silent majority may join the conversation if they see they can share informed opinions and have a civil exchange without rancour.

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    I think voting should ne compulsory. Voting is expressing which parties serve your best intrests If you do not wish to vote for any candidates then you can vote informally

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      KB but none of them do, they are not there to seve the people, they are there to serve their party paymasters, if we pick up a few crumbs along the way we think we are lucky.

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      Cosmo, have a good look at your independent candidates as these are not beholden to the political machine.

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      Yes, Farside! Look at them, what a rabble they are.

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      I voted today, and truly they are a rabble especially in the Senate. Every single issue represented! The rules on who can register should be tightened.

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      Cowboy Jim and Sundays, a rabble they may be but they are your rabble and putting their numerous hands up to represent you. Hobson’s choice maybe however that is democracy in action. Don’t like the candidates then don’t vote for them or even better stand against them. Simple. Don’t like democracy, well it’s not perfect but it beats the alternative most of the time.

      Currently the threshold to nominate is $2000 registration fee (refundable if winning 4% of primary votes) and 100 eligible supporters or a registered party. What would you change to cull the “rabble”?

      I sometimes think about having two rounds of voting would be a step forward, especially with the lengthey senate vote. For example, a voluntary first round and then a compulsory second round comprising the top candidates from the first round vote.

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      Farside, Quite besides the fact that many people with global experience and so a broad range of ideas of how things could be done better are excluded from standing for parliament, (no bright foreign ideas here mate, we’re already the best in the world) there are other reasons why your preferred system of compulsory voting maintains the status quo and mitigates against new entrants who may be able to do things better.

      Let’s say that 30% of the population are disengaged from politics. I don’t know what the figure is but it is quite high. So when this 30% go to vote, who do they vote for? Quite obviously they will choose the names they see on the billboards around them and the mass media advertising paid for by big business or the unions, with which the public are bombarded. If this disengaged percentage didn’t need to vote, we may end up with a far better informed result from people who bother to examine the respective policies.

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      As I said Cosmo, a concerted effort is required to engage the unwashed.

      I would like to see people instructed in civics before being eligible to vote.

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      There you go Cosmo, if you have a spare $2,000.00 next election start your own party, then all you have to do to avoid a fine is vote for yourself.

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      Misty, sorry but this proud multicultural democratic nation disqualifies 40% of its population, its second class citizens, from standing for parliament, we don’t want any foreign ideas here mate, we’re the best in the world! Funny though most of our top brain and neuro-surgeons are foreigners, so are many of our top medical and other scientists, engineers and business people but apparently no one is better at politics than the home team. It took a Dane to design the Opera House, an American to design Canberra, the Poms to supply the inspiration and materials for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.a German Jew to design the Victorian railway and power systems and then for the same man as an Australian to substantially win the first world war for the British Commonwealth. Yet if he were alive today, that same great man General Sir John Monash probably one of the greatest Australians ever would not be allowed to stand for parliament today.

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      Cosmo, Mathius Cormann was born in Belgium and became a Liberal Finance Minister, being b a foreigner does not disqualify you from entering parliament, you just have to become an Australian Citizen.

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      Yes Misty and we have all witnessed recently what Cormann is prepared to do for his political ambition, some politicians would stab their grandmother’s for a win, that’s not my level. Maybe he had no pride in what he was and what made him, I can understand that but I would not want to share the same chamber as him. If I was good enough to fight for this country as I was and to represent and negotiate for this country at the highest diplomatic level as I was then I am certainly not prepared to renounce who I am to sit with a bunch of xenophobes.

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      Cosmo, plenty of second-class Australian citizens in the parliament but they are all required to comply with s44 and renounce other citizenships. Not an onerous task if you want to sit in the parliament, try it, you might like it.

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      . Thanks for the suggestion Farside but I am happy enough running and working on my property, helping to feed a few people and then travelilng the world when time permits to see how others do things. Thanks for past exchanges. Out.

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    I think voting should ne compulsory. Voting is expressing which parties serve your best intrests If you do not wish to vote for any candidates then you can vote informally

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      Why should I have to turn up at a polling place or any other type of voting just to please people who think voting should be compulsory. and then make myself a hypocrite by voting informally. A bit like paying for a meal and the sneaking out without eating it.

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      Well Returned Serviceman you can just pay the fine for not voting if that is the way you feel about voting.

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      Misty, why should Returned Serviceman or anybody have to pay for refusing to vote for parties that do t represent his or their i nterests? If you go i to Woollies or Coles and you saw nothing that appealed to you or you thought they were a rip-off why should you pay not to buy? Do you think the people of North Korea, Libya, Egypt, Mexico and a host of other banana republics get a better deal from compulsory voting so why do you think we do?

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      Is it too much trouble Cosmo to get your name marked off and then bin your papers, people have 2-3 weeks before polling day to vote. Sometimes in life we have to do things we may not always be happy with, like wearing seat belts for eg, but it is the law and so we do it, same for voting, also you cannot compare Australia with those other countries, that is ridiculous.

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      So Misty, how does compulsory voting ensure a better result when a very large proportion of people are disengaged from politics, don’t examine the respective policies and will most likely vote for the party with the most money from vested interest donors to put into mass advertising? How is that good for democracy?

      If you get ripped off or lied to at one local store you are not forced to go back there again and if you don’t you wouldn’t accept a charge for not returning. Democracy is first and foremost about choice, you seem to accept a lower level of choice for what demonstrably provides a poorer outcome. If that were not the case there wouldn’t be the current level of despondency about politics and the parties.

      Look at the list of counties with compulsory voting and tell us which country’s system is more democratic and ensures a better standard of politics as a result?

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      As I said above Cosmo, nominate yourself next election, start your own party, vote for yourself, no fine, problem solved

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      As I have said above Misty, why would I? If i was good enough to fight for this country, create, hundreds of jobs in business and represent the country overseas, why am I not good enough to have my brain washed with a bunch of abusive time servers in Canberra? I have worked there, that was close enough.

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    If you don’t vote then celebrate what you get! You deserve it.

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      Mick, you’ll get it whether you vote or not unless you think you hold the golden ticket but you don’t. You first have to attend a few $10,000 lunches and make sure you keep up your regular donations, hire an ex-politician lobbyist or put one on the board then you get a look in about policy. Do you think the LNP looked after the banks and superannuation thieves because of your vote? Will the unions get a free run because of your vote? Will the gambling companies still be able to destroy families because of your vote? Will the crap food and beverage industries be allowed to continue fattening up our population at a cost to the health service of many billions a year? Will the politicians again resist a federal ICAC because of our votes? Will the pork barreling stop because of our votes after all we all vote and nothing changes despite the promises.

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      Fair point Cosmo but all you are doing is highlighting is how to influence the politics if you do not have the popular mandate. The challenge to you and others not happy with the state of politics in this country is how to get behind someone that does represent your views.

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    A question you didn’t ask: should we have preferential voting? I say yes.

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    Preferences seems to be the problem with our voting systems. No deals just first past the post. But,no govt has the guts to even attempt to change this problem. Minority sections of the community are running our country, due to preferences..

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      The deals mean nothing unless you follow the how-to-vote cards.

      Do your own preference voting. It is a much fairer system and especially important when there are several candidates.

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    I don’t like to be forced to vote and certainly not under the preferential system. There are many important laws which require strict adherence, but voting should not be compulsory as those who just turn up to be crossed off the roll, or fill to in the donkey vote, can create an unrepresentative outcome. Being made to write a number beside the name of a person that I do not like or trust in order to make my vote count is undemocratic.

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      “Being made to write a number beside the name of a person that I do not like or trust in order to make my vote count is undemocratic.”

      But it is the fairest system, especially if there are a lot of candidates. If there were 8, for example, someone could get elected getting only 13% of the first preference vote.

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    It is not compulsory to vote, it is compulsory to be on the electoral role and have your name crossed off the list…what happens next is up to you.

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