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Democratic Audit Update 19 October 2007

by Democratic Audit of Australia

The latest update from the Democratic Audit program at ANU on how our democracy is working.

Prisoner vote decision

In the wake of the High Court’s decision on prisoner enfranchisement, Graeme Orr (University of Queensland) describes the issue of prisoner disenfranchisement as a continuing ‘political football’ in this new paper for the Audit.


The High Court’s reasoning is available here:


Whatever happened to frank and fearless?

Kathy MacDermott, former head of evaluation for the Australian Public Service Commission, considers the tension between the public service’s role in providing ‘frank and fearless’ advice to government and its role in development and implementation of government policy.


At 8pm on Wednesday 17 October 2007, the federal electoral roll closed for enrolments and re-enrolments. Electors already on the roll but who want to change their address have until the evening of Tuesday 23 October to get their forms to the Australian Electoral Commission. You can check your current enrolled address here https://oevf.aec.gov.au/ and obtain a form here:


Note, however, that it is now too late for people who are not on the roll to register.

When last year the federal government legislated to close the rolls for new enrolments on the day the writs were issued, and for re-enrolments three days afterwards, it justified the change on the grounds that the week’s grace that had previously existed had placed unwanted stress on the AEC’s operations. The Commissioner agreed that it would ‘make our life easier’. It is not clear, therefore, whether the AEC welcomed the three day window that resulted from the Prime Minister issuing the writs three days after announcing the election in 2007.

However, after the election was announced the AEC advertised widely the Wednesday evening deadline, and the Sydney Morning Herald has reported a last minute ‘steady stream’ of first-time voters enrolling at the AEC’s Sydney office.


Also on the subject of the electoral roll, Simon Jackman, who co-authored an Audit paper with Peter Brent in June has an update at The Bulletin’s website:


Jackman and Brent for the Audit: http://democratic.audit.anu.edu.au/papers/20070620brentjackmanaecroll.pdf

Blogger William Bowe looked at the issue in Crikey this week:


As did the Sydney Morning Herald


and the Canberra Times


We will have to wait until after the election to determine how well the AEC coped under the new conditions

Party donations

In the wake of the prime minister’s admission that he would welcome donations to the Liberal Party from Gunns, the company behind the proposed Tasmanian pulp mill, Ken Coghill (Monash University) has a piece on the ABC’s website on the shortcomings of the regulation of political finance in Australia.


Labor commitment to fixed terms

ALP leader Kevin Rudd has committed his party to a referendum on the introduction of four-year, fixed-term governments.


Kirby calls for dissenting judiciary

Justice Michael Kirby has criticised the conservatism of his fellow High Court judges in the annual Hawke Lecture. Whilst government is inevitably constrained to a degree by the need for consensus and compromise, he argues the independence of the judiciary should see them dissenting from majority opinion in order for social progress to be achieved.

The transcript and a recording of the speech are available here:


Campaign poster ban in NSW?

An apparently innocuous piece of legislation currently before the New South Wales parliament could have important election campaigning implications, especially for small parties and Independents. The Electricity Supply Amendment (Offences) Bill 2007 makes it an offence to enter or climb electricity works and this, it seems, would include putting up campaign posters on electricity poles. Lacking the resources of the big parties, smaller parties and independents rely on this sort of free campaigning so the bill could further skew the electoral process against them.

The bill is available here:


Another Bill of Rights?

Following a community consultation process, the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute has recommended that Tasmania become the latest jurisdiction in Australia to enact a Bill of Rights. Australia remains the only comparable country without a Bill of Rights, though the ACT and Victoria have both introduced them.

A summary of the Institute’s recommendations is available here:


The full report is available here:


Democracy in Pacific Asia

Roland Rich, the former head of the ANU’s Centre for Democratic Institutions and recently appointed executive head of the United Nation’s Democracy Fund, has a new book examining democracy in Pacific Asia.

It’s available from Amazon



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Sad - but True.

Howard knows it - Costello knows it and the "New Order" all know it.

Money talks to the hip-pocket nerve.

It is sad because people like Howard can and have bought their way out of trouble with prolific spending, of our taxpayer funds, to areas of our nation that can affect an election outcome.

The once "Lucky Country", Australia, worked hard to improve our international standing, our Australian way of life and our values, an egalitarian nature, human rights and freedoms.

 We became so used to them only a small percentage have recognised the losses over the last 11 years.

The shame and tragedy is that the Howard government is destroying the Australian way of life by the simple means of giving us back some of the money they have taken from us.

So while he turns us into a fascist state, we can only see a dollar sign in our hands, but not in our services for which we pay the taxes.

When Howard walks or enters a room, note the Roman and Hitleristic salutation with his right arm. Let the games begin Caesar, we who about to die salute you.


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