Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘campaigns

Another dead heat? Voting in Australia…..

leave a comment »

Chamber, Parliament

Elections!  Arrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!  This time it is Victorian State Parliament.  We just had a hung Federal election and it looks like we could get a hung Victorian one as well if some of the commentators are to be believed.  While I rarely agree with Andrew Bolt about anything much at all, I have to say he is rather on point with his assessment that this looks like another “dead heat” in the making.

Farrah Tomazin of The Age is saying rather much the same thing.

The headline banner of the HeraldSun says “On a Knife Edge”.

I have a sense of deja vu.  Impending doom of another two week wait for independants to clutch their moment of power while staring at the TV cameras like deer caught in the headlights.  Maybe not quite, but there is no situation like a hung election result to give an amazing amount of attention to a few – sometimes just one.  There was once this senator from Tasmania, I believe………

We Victorians will all dutifully trudge to the polls tomorrow at our local primary school, the church hall, the this or that building to have our names marked off the role and put our numbers in the little boxes.  Those of us who forget will be fined if we don’t have good reason for foresaking our democratic right to vote.  To Americans the concept of compulsory voting is indeed strange.  They think it is undemocratic.  But then I have had Americans swear they live in a republic, definitely not a democracy.  I’m not sure what they teach in American schools about “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  At least we have the sense to hold elections on a Saturday.  Can you imagine voting on a Tuesday, a work day?

I like the fact Australia makes it a family thing.  Children pop along with their parents and grow up with the idea voting is the normal thing to do.  The odd sausage sizzle adds to the flavour of the day.  We could do without all the “how-to-vote” cards but I guess it just goes with the territory.  How many really follow those things anyway?

In the Federal election we had a record number of “informal” votes – in fact, if I recall correctly, we had a record number of actual blank votes.  Perhaps I should explain a little.  You see, having been a scrutineer myself in another life, I can personally attest to the interesting things one finds on ballot papers.  Interesting anatomical drawings are not uncommon.  Swearing is also popular.  Blank is actually quite unusual.

People in Australia have been making quite a political football out of asylum seekers of late, especially any that happen to cross the seas in a boat.  To those people who want to see us treat these people to the conditions of places such as Christmas Island and then send them home, I suggest as you exercise your vote on Saturday, you take a moment to reflect on how lucky you are to be able to stroll down to the polling station, kids in tow, grab a snag from the fund raising sausage sizzle and wander home in peace.  With your hands still attached to your wrists.  No bullet through your head.  No risk of your wife or daughter being raped because you had the audacity to vote.

Treat your right to vote with the respect it deserves and while you are doing it, have a thought for those who flee from regimes where it is perilous to attempt to achieve the freedoms we take for granted.

Advertisements

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 26, 2010 at 9:15 pm

We are being profiled?

leave a comment »

Poll Source: The Age http://www.theage.com.au

OK, so it was a busy day for me and I only just got to glance at the paper now – after 1am in the morning.  What am I greeted with?  The news that the two main political parties are profiling voters.  Here is a snippet of the article.

It shows how Labor campaign workers have access to details of private lives of voters, including information people may have intended to share only with the offices of local MPs. Database entries seen by The Age include details of a family’s concern about an East Malvern man’s prostate cancer, a man’s financial problems after he purchased a gaming agency, a Brighton family’s complaint about superannuation payments, and details of a woman’s victims of crime compensation claim.

The major parties have different versions of the software – Electrac for the ALP and Feedback for the Liberals – enabling the creation of detailed, cross-referenced files on constituents.

Now, while I know public servants have access to a lot of personal information: The Health Department knows what operations I’ve had and when I go to the Doctor, the Tax Department knows how much I earn, what I do and where I work (and have worked in the past), the Immigration Department currently know more about me than any government department should know: the list goes on.  The article indicates that the information is not coming from government departments – let us all hope that is definitely the case.

I do not expect that information about me from any source that I have not personally authorised will be available to political party campaigners or to candidates that have not yet been elected.  Even elected ones should not have access to private information in this way.   What is going on here?  The article goes on to quote a constituent:

Sam Waszaj, of Travancore, near Flemington, expressed dismay that his correspondence with a federal minister about Medicare funding for late abortions led to a database entry.

”The minister wrote back to me and said Labor was happy to hear my concerns. But they never said to me, ‘Oh, by the way, we will store this on a big database’,” Mr Waszaj said.

This is what the KGB used to do. Who has access to this information? How will it be used in the future?”

Sam asks some very good questions.  I’d like to know the answers too, as I am sure would a lot of other people.  The poll above indicates 91% of those choosing to participate in the poll did not approve.

On my Personal Site I asked were we really “Moving Forward” to 1984.   After reading this article, I’m seeing us get closer to 1984 every day!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 23, 2010 at 1:37 am