typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Australian Election 2007 – already primed for a USA 2000 outcome?

with 3 comments

  • 200 000 voters “missing”
  • 143 000 voters “scrubbed” from the electoral roll
  • 18% of young adults now blocked from voting
  • public verification of rolls also now blocked.

Johnny Fingers - caught by Gary Ramage

On the day that Prime Minister John Howard finally called the election, political lobby group GetUp called foul. Check out Voting is the Best Revenge, but also consider this:

The Orwellian “Electoral Integrity Act” was pushed through by the Howardocracy last year, ensuring that an historically significant share of Aussies will miss out in 2007.

No new enrolments after 8 pm yesterday – Wednesday October 17th – a full 7 days shorter than last time. Previously, close to half a million people enrolled in this period – almost 80 000 being new enrolments. While it seemed that a similar number would miss that chance this time, there has been an additional blowout.

GetUp also have figures showing that in the last few months, 143 000 Australians have been removed from the electoral rolls. If you are one of them, you’re only going to find out on election day – when you don’t get to vote.

But that’s your own fault, surely? Well, no. According to yesterday’s media release – 4 hours before the first closure of the rolls:

the AEC has revealed only hours before the roll closes that it has actually unenrolled 143,000 Australians in recent months, many of whom are not aware of it, despite many having made efforts to correct their enrolment.

In addition to this figure, and although there may be some overlap the lack of transparency now in effect makes it almost impossible to tell, the Bulletin reported on Monday that the rolls are at least 200 000 voters short of the numbers that would be expected in line with Australia’s growing population.

That’s a lot: about 1.5% of the current roll, or enough to generate over two typically sized electoral divisions (the average enrolment per electoral division was 90,246 as of September 30).

Peter Garrett spruiking paper samples for Gunns' potential retail clientsIn August, credible polling found that over 80 per cent of Australians were still unaware of any of these electoral changes. The AEC’s (Australian Electoral Commission) own research has shown that 18 per cent of eligible 18 to 25-year-olds – still close to the 400 000 people admitted by Coalition Minister of State, Gary Nairn – aren’t enrolled to vote. It’s odd, given that their $12.5 million ad spend equated Aussie democracy with grabbing a sausage. What? This didn’t inspire you to register?

These major changes – including the newly snuck-in more frequent “scrubbing” of the roll – were considered by a Senate Committee a few years ago but vigorously opposed by the AEC’s leadership at the time. Since then a changing of the guard has seen a reversal of some previously key positions held by the electoral watchdog.

For example, this link is no longer active. Before it was removed it featured this statement:

Printed copies of the electoral roll for public inspection and public sale are printed at least once during the first two years of the life of the Parliament.

The relevant page on the new AEC website, however, now states that

The roll is not available for sale in any format.

This change was legislated by Howard in 2004. Based on trends in Australian politics, this new level of diminished transparency creates, at the absolute least, an… ‘enhanced possibility in the perception of procedural risk’.

Undeniably, the Howard leadership has modelled both Party politics and national policy on the model assembled under Ronald Reagan and turbo-charged under George W Bush. There are significant differences, obviously, but super-bureaucracy as a barrier between politicians and public, fear campaigns, nationalism, religion as a political mascot – these are significant and common elements of both national governments.

It’s often said that in a democracy you get the government you deserve. Without the benefit of an accountable Senate, many Aussies now look likely to miss out on the vote they deserve.

And it is a concern when any leader – but particularly an admirer of GWB’s – goes to an election where, by their very actions, transparency is diminished, independence of supervision has been questioned, and opportunities for enrolment are at their most restricted in Australian history.

More importantly, what can Australians now do to curtail the risk of major democratic disenfranchisement come election day?




Written by typingisnotactivism

October 18, 2007 at 10:01 am

3 Responses

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  1. There are a few “stories” coming out of the U.S. now that claim Bush, Cheney, rove(even though retired) plus others in the GOP are planning to cancel the 08 elections. thus remaining in power and in effect introducing a dictatorship into the US.

    The World witnessed Bush steal the 2000 and 2004 elections. Now we are seeing Howard adopting the same methods.

    interesting to see what the 2010 elections (if any) will hold in store for the Australian people.

    Shane Woods

    October 18, 2007 at 9:55 pm

  2. It’s definitely a bit of a global trend, the forceful incumbent clinging to power. But however they may fritter with the detail the American model is still the most effective mode of dictatorship – as long as people believe that they’re in a democracy, albeit imperfect, they have some ownership of the good and bad that their country does, abroad or domestically. Hence, there’s the argument and disagreement that reflects a degree of engagement. It doesn’t matter whether they’re agreeing or disagreeing, as long as they’re particpating in the system and thereby validating it. As long as they don’t notice that there is really no difference between the candidates, realize the whole thing is a sham, and disconnect en masse it can stand up as democracy and pat its insular ideological imperial self on the back.

    We’re a bit of a way from court-awarded presidencies just yet, but I did see a Diebold company car in Sydney the other day. Seriously. That, imho, is a baaaaad sign.


    October 18, 2007 at 11:26 pm

  3. You all may recall that John W Howards’s young fella was at a party a few years ago where a young girl OD. Apart from one or two press reports it was quickly silenced and no more was heard of it or Johnny’s young fella. The next I heard of JW’s young fella he was in the great US of A and working for the public relations firm that handles George W Bush’s election campaign. What a great
    one our PM is at accepting opportunities!!!.
    1)Young fella out of the way
    2}Family member steeped in the scum and sludge of the Bush sewer approach to democracy that works
    so well on a people suffering from terrorism induced xenophobia
    3)First born son offered up to worship, in lieu of our PM, at the place where our PM believes the
    sun shines from. Mark Latham, somewhat indelicately, managed to get his tongue around a
    suitable description of the likes of our country’s leading father and son team.

    henry tunks

    October 19, 2007 at 7:42 am

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