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Nationals firm on compulsory voting.



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Nationals firm on compulsory voting

Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell, said today that The Nationals would continue to support and promote the egalitarian, representative nature of Australian democracy through the system of compulsory voting.

“Our major concern with non-compulsory voting is that we believe all voters should have ownership of their government,” Senator Boswell said.

“Compulsory voting provides a clear connection between the people and the parliament.”

“Cynicism toward politicians and politics is at a high enough level without giving people the option to completely disconnect and take no interest or responsibility in who runs the country and how it is run.”

Senator Boswell said that a close examination of the American experience of non-compulsory voting should be enough to convince Australians that our compulsory system was the best option to ensure truly representative government.

“In the last American Federal election in 2004, there was a voter turnout of 55.3%. This means that, theoretically, the President could have been elected by less than 28% of the population,” Senator Boswell said.

“In the previous election, 2002, there was only a 37% voter turnout, and the figure has not been above 60% since 1968. The average voter turnout over the past 23 US Federal elections, since 1960 is just 48%,” he said.

“In contrast, the last Australian Senate election saw a voter turnout of 94.82 per cent.”

“In many non-compulsory elections, significant focus, energy and resources are removed from promoting key policies to promoting and encouraging voter turnout and The Nationals don’t believe that this is in the best interests of good government.”

“Instead of promoting an important new policy, a political party is likely to find that they need to spend the limited funds available on getting people out to go and vote.”

“While a poll of 30 to 50 per cent of the population could generally be expected to be quite accurate, The Nationals believe that there would be certain socio-economic groups that would be disadvantaged if a non-compulsory system of voting were introduced here.”

“For example, if voter enrolments or turnout in smaller regional communities dropped below a certain level, polling booths might be closed in these communities due to a lack of numbers, as we have seen happen in the past.”

“While The Nationals are open to changes that will improve outcomes for Australian voters and fairness in elections, we continue to support our representative system of compulsory voting in Australia,” Senator Boswell said.

ENDS

Media Contact - Paul Leven 07 3001 8150