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Democratic Audit Update 2 November 2007

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Democratic Audit of Australia

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

The importance of boundaries

Colin Hughes, former Federal Electoral Commissioner and Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Queensland, considers the issue of electorate boundary changes. The paper provides a comprehensive review of the 2006 redistributions in NSW and Qld and summarises the history of redistributions in the two states. Hughes analyses the party political competition involved, even when the redistributions are carried out by independent electoral commissions.

Read the research paper

Government advertising on industrial relations

Fred Argy, visiting fellow at ANU’s Crawford School, reviews the federal government’s publicly funded, multi-million dollar campaign to persuade the Australian electorate of the merits of the controversial WorkChoices policy.

Read the paper

Fairfax media freedom fears

Media baron JB Fairfax has spoken of his concerns about the freedom of the press. He identified two trends of particular concern: Freedom of Information (FOI) and whistleblower protection. Governments’ ability to deem the disclosure of documents to be contrary to the public interest significantly undermines the principle of FOI. He also called for a legal right for journalist to protect their sources, except in cases of national security.

More in the Geelong Advertiser

Garrett’s FOI knock-back

ALP Environment Spokesman, Peter Garrett had an FOI request for documents relating to the impact of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef rejected, apparently on the bizarre grounds that it would benefit Labor’s election campaign. The executive director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) said that, if the matter was of public concern, then the information would assist Labor’s campaign and, presumably, damage the Liberals’.

Read more

Australia improves its press freedom ranking

Reporters Without Borders’ latest annual survey of world press freedom has Australia in 28th place, up from 35th in 2006.

Read more

The Australian electoral roll

The Audit’s Peter Brent and Simon Jackman (Stanford University) have followed up their Audit paper on the shrinking electoral roll, with this analysis of the latest enrolment figures

Read the analysis

The right to vote is not enjoyed equally

A recent report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) shows that, whilst all Australians aged 18 or over are supposedly obliged to vote, in fact certain groups are disproportionately more likely to miss out. Those with a disability, those in rural areas, indigenous Australians, the homeless, and prisoners serving sentences longer than three years, are all likely to excluded from voting for legal or practical reasons.

Read the full report here

Political campaigns website

Audit contributor Sally Young (University of Melbourne), has launched The Soapbox, a new website dedicated to political campaigns in Australia since 1901.

Visit The Soapbox

Election 2007: Voters and the Senate

Whilst governments may not like it, it seems voters prefer a Senate that is not under government control. David Denemark (UWA), Shaun Wilson (Maquarie University) and Gabrielle Meagher (University of Sydney) have a paper based on the latest Australian Social Attitudes Survey (AuSSA) that shows that 57 per cent prefer the government not to have control of the Senate, against just 14 per cent who consider it a good thing.

Read more

Ruddock vs Ludwig debate

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Shadow Attorney-General Joe Ludwig will debate their parties’ policies as they affect Australia’s legal system. The debate will be held at NSW Parliament House on Tuesday November 6, between 9.00am and 10.00am. Booking required: phone 02 9385 2257 or email gtcentre@unsw.edu.au.

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Well Said John Pratt.

G'day John.It should be noted that the move towards an Australian Bill of Rights was started by the Labor government in the ACT.

There is also moves I believe by the Labor Party's state governments in NSW and Western Australia?

Certainly, as the only democratic industrialised nation on earth that doesn't have a Bill of Rights, we desperately need an Australian Labor Party House of Representatives and a Senate with a cross-section majority of minor Australian Greens and Democrats.

Keep up the good work mate.

Cheers Ern G.

A shift towards secrecy we need to be vigilant.

An independent audit by former New South Wales ombudsman Irene Moss has found a general "subtle shift" towards secrecy in Australia.

The audit reviewed legislation and practises related to free speech issues affecting the media in Australia.

Ms Moss says Australians should not be complacent about declining media freedom.

"I observe a subtle shift, which shows we need to be vigilant," she said,

Slowly are freedoms are being eroded, we standby as one by one our freedoms are attacked. We need a bill of rights to protect the freedoms our politicians would like to take away. Australia is the only western country without a bill or rights or similar.

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