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EYE-BALL Opinion – Referendum Discussion No 1 – Compulsory Voting – “None of the Above” Campaign –

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Title:
– Referendum Discussion Part 1 –
– Compulsory Voting –
–  Eye-Ball’s – “None of the Above Campaign” –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 4th Nov 2012 |
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Link to the Eye-Ball – ‘None of the Above’ campaign Front Page …


Referendum’s in Australia:

When it comes to referendums in Australia there have only been 44, of which only 8 have been carried or the ‘yes’ vote was the victor.   A list of those Referendums is provided below – link to source data

Referendums and plebiscites by year – linked …

(Bold entries denote proposals that were carried)

Another full listing of these Referendum’s is provided on the Australian Electoral Commission website – linked here.   The information on this site is well worth the read including expanded explanations for all the referendums and plebiscites.

As can be seen from the list above the last 20 odd years has only seen one referendum – in 1999 and a vote for the establishment of a Republic – defeated as we recall.

From 1988 and before the subject of the referendums has been to do with Government Administrative issues in how the Government functions going back to 1974. The only National Interest referendum was the ‘National Song’ in 1977 – and to find the next National Interest matter you’d have to go back to 1967 on Aboriginals.

Prior to 1974 referendums on specifics issues like, control over rents, prices, and the like were defeated on fears of handing too much control to Government.

A question arising from this history, encompassing the massive changes in how politics has now infused itself into our society, i.e. the influence of vision media, televised press conferences and Question Time, and the polarisation of political choices becoming focused on – ‘top of the ticket’ voting – all of what was most feared in earlier Referendums has now become the ‘grey area’ of political policy.   Policy no longer has an electorate mandate when Government can change its policy during a term that is against the mandate it went to the electorate with to win the election.

This surely brings into question the legitimacy of the Government when the people are marginalised and have no say to these policy changes.   Does an elected Government have the right to change its policies on serious issues after they’ve been elected?

  • It is time to review the political landscape in this Nation and its democratic process.   This Nation should take stock of where current political agenda’s and intent have us headed into the future and decide whether there needs to be limits of the scope of Government and what they can do that is not within there mandate to do.
  • Is it time to rein in the powers our Leaders believe they have that have not been sanctioned, and to place restrictions on what a Government can do without a mandate from the electorate –
  • It is time to challenge the authority of Government and what they are allowed to do whilst serving the Australian electorate whilst caretakers of our Nation.

I believe this is of great importance to many Australians – I challenge and ask all Australians to question their political beliefs and express their opinions on how they feel about the Government of the day – and whether they believe they have ‘carte blanche’ to do any and everything they want to do with respect to their stated policies, and alterations to those policies whilst in Government that inflame the emotive debate within the electorate – e.g. –

  • Firstly – in this current term of Government the issue of a new Carbon Tax was introduced after an election promise by the Prime Minister that she would never introduce a Carbon Tax – should the Government be allowed to break its election promises without going back to the electorate to get a mandate to do so?
  • Secondly – the solution to the asylum seeker problem are two issues where the Government’s ever changing policies are at odds with the majority of the electorate – they again went to the electorate with a policy that has no relevance to the current policy –

The issue is that these policy changes by this Government during its current term have resulted in a ‘shifting-sands’ of the policy process and the opinion is that the Government has no mandate to do what it has done, and that it is making it up as it goes along.

Should Governments be allowed to mislead the electorate in order to win Government – then be allowed to reverse their position because their policies have failed and the elected few are then allowed to ‘run with the bulls’ to make new policy without the electorates approval.

It’s a major issue – do Government’s run back to the electorate every time they have a policy shift – of should the policies be scrutinised and be subjected to extreme accountability before they can be announced … to me there is no right answer in these terms – but there has to be a better way to give Government a message that they cannot deceive the electorate nor exceed their mandate.

Both these issues listed above will become a part of the ‘discussion’ and ‘debate’ opportunity this page seeks to provide over the months ahead and leading up to the 2013 federal election.  This post is about Compulsory Voting …


– Compulsory Voting –

– The G-20 – List of member Nations: [map of Member Nations]

[Click on map to open in a new window – click Ctr+ to enlarge.]

The above map showing the G-20 list of Nations represent the most advanced economies in the world.  Not all have a democratic form of Government – i.e. China, Saudi Arabia.  Of the remaining Western Democracy Nations within this G-20 group – Australia stands alone as the only Nation where Compulsory Voting is enforced by the law of the land.

The base arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’ the legislation for Compulsory Voting can be read in detail at the Wikipedia source – linked here.

In Australia compulsory voting has been in vogue since 1924.   A Wikipedia page titled – Electoral system of Australialinked here – provides interesting history in how and why compulsory voting was introduced during 1924.   Part of the page is copied below:

… The Australian electoral system has evolved over the last 150 years of democratic government, with the Australian Parliament established by 1901. The present day federal parliament has a number of distinctive features including compulsory voting, with full-preference instant-runoff voting in single-member seats to elect the lower house, the Australian House of Representatives, and the use of group ticket single transferable proportional voting to elect the upper house, the Australian Senate.

Compulsory voting

Australia enforces compulsory voting. Compulsory voting at referendums was considered when a referendum was proposed in 1915, but, as the referendum was never held, the idea was put on hold. The immediate impetus for compulsory voting at federal level was the low voter turnout (59.38 percent) at the 1922 federal election. However, it was not on the platform of either the Stanley Bruce-led Nationalist/Country party coalition government or the Matthew Charlton-led Labor opposition to introduce this requirement; rather, the initiative was taken by a backbench Tasmanian senator from the Nationalists, Herbert Payne, who introduced a Private Senator’s Bill, the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1924, on 16 July 1924. Senator Payne’s bill was passed with little debate (the House of Representatives agreed to it in less than an hour), and in neither house was a division required, hence no votes were recorded against the bill. It received Royal Assent on 31 July 1924. The 1925 federal election was the first to be held under compulsory voting; the turnout figure climbed to 91.4 per cent, an increase of 32 percentage points on the previous election.

Voting is compulsory both at federal elections and at elections for the state and territory legislatures. In the states of South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia voting at local elections is not compulsory. About 5% of enrolled voters fail to vote at most elections. People in this situation are asked to explain their failure to vote. If no satisfactory reason is provided (for example, illness or religious prohibition), a relatively small fine is imposed ($20), and failure to pay the fine may result in a court hearing.

A citizen can only vote once enrolled. Enrolling to vote is mandatory. Failure to enrol can incur a fine. However, citizens who later enrol themselves are protected from prosecution for not enrolling in the previous years by section 101 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. In NSW, this situation has been somewhat modified by the NSW Electoral Commissions “Smart Roll” system. Introduced in 2009 the system draws information from various government department sources and enrolls eligible electors automatically onto the state roll, but not the federal role.

It is an offence to “mislead an elector in relation to the casting of his vote”. The number of informal votes is recorded, but they are not counted as part of the total number of votes cast. Around 95% of registered voters attend polling, and around 5% of Representatives votes are informal,

Arguments for and against compulsory voting

Occasionally conservative politicians or libertarians argue for the abolition of compulsory voting on philosophical grounds, but no government has ever attempted to abolish it.

Following the 2004 federal election, at which the Liberal-National coalition government won a majority in both Houses, a senior minister, Senator Nick Minchin, said that he favoured the abolition of compulsory voting. Some prominent Liberals, such as Petro Georgiou, former chair of the Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, have spoken in favour of compulsory voting.

The weakness of non-compulsory voting regimes is that governments can be seen to lack legitimacy by those sections of the populace who chose not to cast a vote. A characteristic of non-compulsory voting is that it makes it easier for special interest groups to vote themselves into power if large sections of the population do not participate in the political process.

Peter Singer in Democracy and Disobedience argues that compulsory voting could negate the obligation of a voter to support the outcome of the election, since voluntary participation in elections is deemed to be one of the sources of the obligation to obey the law in a democracy. In 1996 Albert Langer was jailed for three weeks on contempt charges in relation to a constitutional challenge on a legal way not to vote for either of the major parties. Chong, Davidson and Fry argue that Australian compulsory voting is disreputable, paternalistic, disadvantages smaller political parties, and allows major parties to target marginal seats and make some savings in pork barreling because of this targeting. Chong et al. also argue that denial is a significant aspect of the debate about compulsory voting.

A counter argument to opponents of compulsory voting is that in these systems the individual still has the practical ability to abstain at the polls by voting informally if they so choose, due to the secrecy of the ballot. A spoilt vote does not count towards any political party and effectively is the same as choosing not to vote under a non-compulsory voting system. However, Singer argues that even the appearance of voluntary participation is sufficient to create an obligation to obey the law. His critique of compulsory voting laws, such as Australia’s, would therefore still be applicable, as the law does in fact require all citizens to appear at the polls and go through the motions of voting. Participation could thus never be considered truly voluntary under such a system, and the obligation to obey the law might still fail to accrue.

In the 2010 Australian election, Mark Latham urged Australians to vote informally by handing in blank ballot papers for the 2010 election. He also stated that he doesn’t feel it is fair for the government to force citizens to vote if they don’t have an opinion or threaten them into voting with a fine.

Contrary to popular speculation at the time[citation needed], the Australian Electoral Commission confirmed that voting informally does not break any Australian laws and is completely legal.[14] How the Australian Electoral Commission arrived at this opinion is unknown and runs contrary to the opinions of Chief Justice Barwick, who wrote that voters must actually mark the ballot paper and deposit that ballot into a ballot box and Justice Blackburn who was of the opinion that casting an invalid vote was a violation of the Act.

… link to Wikipedia source …

Electoral Vote Refunds

What is not mentioned above is the Electoral Vote Refund system Australia has and how it has been a part of Australian history since the early 1920’s.

Pasted from the Australian Electoral Commission [AEC] –

Entitlement to election funding

A candidate or Senate group is eligible for election funding if they obtain at least 4% of the first preference vote in the division or the state or territory they contested. The amount to be paid is calculated by multiplying the number of votes obtained by the current election funding rate. The funding rate for the 2010 federal election was 231.191 cents per House of Representatives and Senate vote. This rate is indexed every six months to increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Amount paid

The amount of election funding payable is calculated by multiplying the number of first preference votes received by the rate of payment applicable at the time. The rate is indexed every six months in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index.

The AEC provides a 30 odd year history of the electoral refund value –

Recent historical rates

  • 2010 federal election 231.191 cents
  • 2009 Bradfield and Higgins by-elections 224.851 cents
  • 2008 Lyne and Mayo by-elections 218.940 cents
  • 2008 Gippsland by-election 214.018 cents
  • 2007 federal election 210.027 cents
  • 2004 federal election 194.397 cents
  • 2001 federal election 179.026 cents
  • 1998 federal election 162.210 cents
  • 1996 federal election 157.594 cents
  • 1993 federal election 100.787 cents per House of
  • Representatives vote, 50.393 cents per Senate vote
  • 1990 federal election 91.223 cents per House of Representatives vote, 45.611 cents per Senate vote
  • 1987 federal election 76.296 cents per House of Representatives vote, 38.148 cents per Senate vote
  • 1984 federal election 61.2 cents per House of Representatives vote, 30.6 cents per Senate vote

The current election funding rate from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2012 is 242.705 cents per eligible vote.

In Mar 2012 there was a report tabled titled – Current Commonwealth political financing arrangementslinked here – and very good reading. The report gives examples of situations where candidates/Political Parties could profit from the public purse vote refund system, when the refund due is greater then the amount spent on election campaigns.

The last two federal elections, 2007 and 2010, cost taxpayers $54.2 and $49 million a piece in electoral vote refunds.   The two major parties each received –

  • ALP 2007 – $20.0 million
  • ALP 2010 – $22.0 million
  • Coalition 2007 – $23.2 million
  • Coalition 2010 – $21.3 million.

Most important is the rise in the informal vote in the 2010 election – up to near 12% when the ‘no-shows’ are added to the registered informal vote.  This number registered third on the first preference list – beating the Greens.

In a submission to the – Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters [JSCEM] by this author after the 2010 Federal election –  JSCEM submission linked here – a number of issues were raised with the committee including the electoral vote refund system, and why ‘compulsory voting’ feeds to the higher refunds paid for by taxpayers.   If compulsory voting was not the law – the value of refunds to political candidates and political parties would diminish.   The electoral vote refund would only apply to those who wanted to vote formally.

In a direct sense as it stands now – those who vote without real interest in who they vote for – ‘gift’s to the candidate/political party monies they would never receive if compulsory voting was abolished.   They are linked in an adverse way that impacts on taxpayers.

– Political Parties forcing electioneering costs onto taxpayers:

Political Parties are responsible for all electioneering costs after the Parties have their official launch of their election campaigns.

In recent elections, this Campaign Launch has been delayed and this has pushed the ‘gray’ area of electioneering costs onto the taxpayer via Ministerial expenditures before the Campaign Launch.

A full listing of Federal Election costs since 1901 is provided by the AEC and can be accessed using  – this link.

An example of a by-election cost contained in the table provided via the link provided shows that when Peter Costello resigned from the Opposition in 2008 – the cost for the by-election was a $710k expense dumped on the taxpayer.

History now reminds us that if Mr Costello had sat on the Opposition benches, became Opposition Leader, and given the turmoil leading into the 2010 election, the Coalition would most likely have won in a landslide and he would have been PM.

The cost of that by-election should be for the sitting member to cover unless mitigating circumstances prevails – i.e. medical, personal crisis etc.   Just not wanting to be there anymore because you lost Government is not a reason.   The same applies to state elections and the recent Anna Bligh dummy-spit.

The biggest embarrassment is that every other democracy in the G-20 who once had compulsory voting have now rescinded the Law and now have a voluntary voting system.

Failing a referendum on the ‘compulsory voting’ issue – vote ‘None of the Above’ at the next election – [i.e. draw a new box on the ballot, call it ‘None of the Above’ and place your mark in that box.] – unless of course you know your candidate and want to pledge your vote … do not vote the top of the ticket or the leader because you think their cute, or have your interest’s at heart … all recent evidence to the contrary.

Make a statement at the next election – it will only take a single election protest to make politicians and political parties change and alter the contempt they have for the electorate.

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Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.

Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s


The EYE-BALL Opinion …

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  1. Gerry Hatrick
    November 6, 2012 at 9:39 am

    For mine, the compulsory voting system entrenches the 2 major parties. Somewhere above is a small part, while electors can abstain by voting informally, implied is an obligation to vote. We simply can’t understand which votes cast are based on conscious want rather than some unconscious or subconscious historical bias.

    In our system, it is statistically provable that the 2 major parties will each attract approx 40% of the vote each where 20% of votes maximum swing between those two on individual election and economic policy considerations. The last NSW and Qld state elections really rattled those considerations when Qld ALP was reduced to 7 seats and NSW ALP to approx 12. What % of the voters are members of a political affiliation? 7% to 15%

    Today in the USA we are hearing both sides urging constituents to vote. You also hear that dis-empowered constituency can be denied a vote. Is it rational for those not politically motivated, who energies are invested elsewhere to leave the end decision to those who are politically motivated?

    This could add to corruption. If a person votes 2 or 5 times because they know someone else is unlikely to exercise their democratic right, how can you stop this? What occurs when it is established that an elector is marked off multiple times yet they have strong factual evidence that they only voted once. Could this lead to a by election. In 1973 NSW State election in the seat of Coogee, the 3rd re count established Mike Cleary the loser to Freeman. The matter went to the court of disputed returns. A by election was conducted.

    I totally accept the arguments above on funding of political parties. In the light of the other issue of funding campaigns, Union slush funds, undisclosed donations, lobbying, governments paying for policy initiatives advertising and so on we desperately need electoral reform. The entire debate is simply so vexed. Sometimes merely debating the issues increases awareness. It might galvanise attitudes towards corrupt behaviours.

  2. November 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    A Government will not vote against their natural interests … the question is how does one bring about change … the most common answer received is ‘slowly’ …

    One needs to get the ear of an MP with some influence and that becomes a problem in itself when their time is closely guarded by minders who vett all before the MP gets to read anything.

    The media will only assist if it serves their own interests and for a blanket email to all Members and Senators – the automated response is about all you’ll ever hear back.

    The voice of the people is a whisper at best. How to turn it into a tidal wave of voiced opinion is still a work in progress.

    Spread the message wide and far …

  3. XRumerTest
    January 23, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Hello. And Bye.

  4. August 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Great blog you have got here.. It’s hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

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