Every person’s opinion counts

HAVING the right to express our opinion at the ballot box is one of the great privileges of being Australian.

It is easy to take our democratic rights for granted, because they have seldom been under threat.

Our way of life in the "lucky country" is the envy of many.

The endless arrival of asylum seekers and those who legally immigrate to Australia is testimony to that.

A discussion paper released in Queensland has created a stir, as one of its suggested reforms is the abolition of compulsory voting.

How Queensland could seriously consider the reform brings into question the competency of the government.

Around the world people are giving up their lives in their fight for the right of self-determination. There is no history of people fighting to give up their democratic rights!

Where voting is not compulsory, the outcome of elections is determined only by part of the population; it is usually the educated, well-off and fringe-group supporters who are first to the ballot box.

Democracy is about ensuring every person's opinion counts.

Whether you are a king of industry, billionaire, shop assistant or an unemployed teenager, your vote carries the same weight. If people elect to squander their vote by not turning up on polling day or voting informally, that is their choice. But it should never be encouraged.

By removing the legal requirement to vote we would inflict upon ourselves and our country a devastating disservice.

While some will argue it is undemocratic to force people to vote, because it is an infringement of liberty, everyone must understand democracy comes at a price and it is a bill we all have to pay.

The outcome of US presidential elections is often determined by less than 60 per cent of the voting public, because voting is not compulsory.

As the decisions made by governments impact directly or indirectly on every Australian in some way, citizens should have their say, and those elected to Parliament to defend and improve our way of life have an obligation to protect the right of every Australian to express their opinion at the ballot box.


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