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Democratic Audit Update - Election extra

by Democratic Audit Australia

A special Election 2010 update from the Democratic Audit program at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

Voting rights: round two to GetUp!

Following last week’s High Court win, GetUp! has had another win in its campaign to reform voter enrolment rules. In Inside Story, Audit member Graeme Orr looks at Friday’s Federal Court decision.

Updated roll needed for federal election

The Audit’s Brian Costar called for the Australian Electoral Commission to issue an updated electoral roll after last week’s High Court decision enfranchising approximately 100,000 voters disadvantaged by the early closure of the roll for the 21 August federal election. 

Update: GetUp! reports that the AEC has decided to reissue the electoral roll for the 21 August election with the additional names included.

Election material analysed

Using a sample of letters and leaflets from the fifteen most marginal seats in the 2010 election, Audit member Sally Young looks at the role of direct mail campaigning in this election for Inside Story.

Strengthening democracy

In ‘Strengthening our Democracy,’ a chapter in the new election e-book, More Than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now, the Audit’s Marian Sawer, Kathy MacDermott and Norm Kelly look at three key election-related issues: political finance, government advertising and the electoral roll. “Irrespective of who wins this year’s election,” they write, “it is time for reforms that place political equality ahead of perceived partisan interests.” More Than Luck is published by the Centre for Policy Development.

Money in politics

Audit contributor Joo-Cheong Tham discusses the main themes of his new book, Money and Politics: The Democracy We Can't Afford, in this videocast from Melbourne University.

Election funding transparency

Although Australia will votes this month, electors won’t find out who made large donations to the parties during the campaign until early 2012. In this respect, we can learn something from the United States, writes the Audit’s Brian Costar in Inside Story.

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A fundamental rethink

The court victories require a fundamental rethinkof how Australians enrol to vote. The obvious answer is to move to a system of automatic enrolment using information already provided to government through tax collection or other means. This would remove the need to enrol online or by other means. The idea is being looked at in NSW and elsewhere and should be adopted nationally.

It would require our electoral commissions to do the work of putting people on the roll when they turn 18 and keeping their details up to date. With 1.4 million Australians missing from the electoral roll and so unable to vote, it represents a sensible next step in the evolution of our electoral system.

George Williams is the Anthony Mason Professor of Law at the University of NSW.

The victory by GetUp shows that we cannot trust politicians to act in the interest of Australia. Politicians always act in the interest of their various political parties. This is more evidence that we need a bill of rights.

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