Take Me Off The Electoral Roll!

In Australia, it is mandatory to vote.  At age 18, you register to vote and from then on you must vote in every single city, state and federal election.  I’m guessing the reasoning behind this is that every single adult gets to have their say on who represents them.  It’s a nice thought, but it does not result in an informed and political aware population. Most people don’t take the time to weigh up the arguments given by both sides.  They just vote for whatever party they have always voted for or the party that promises them the most money. Therefore, I really don’t see the reason behind compulsory voting.

When I moved to Germany, I registered as an overseas voter rather than remove myself from the rolls, because I still wanted a say in what happens politically in my homeland.  Today I revoked that right.  Today, I informed the Australian Electoral Commission that I will be staying overseas indefinitely and to remove my name from the electoral roll.  I did that because I can not, in good faith, vote for anyone running in the September Federal election. I am disgusted by both sides of politics.  I am disgusted by their racists policies that seek to dehumanise the most vulnerable members of society – asylum seekers.  Both sides of parliament think it is okay to lock up asylum seekers, including children for years on end, while their claims are processed.

Last month, the Labor party came out with their new policy to deal with asylum seekers arriving by boat, which is the most common way they arrive – and that is to not only lock them up on some small pacific island away from legal consul (they’ve been doing that for years) but now to also, if they are found to be real asylum seekers, to deny them the right to settle in Australia.  They will be settled in Papa New Guinea instead.

They then released this ad campaign in Australia to turn a population already hostile towards asylum seekers, even more hostile.

That was the final straw for me.  I can not in good conscience vote for a political party that condones this treatment.  Unfortunately, it is policy that is approved by both sides of politics.

The Labor party is also trying to convince gay voters to vote for them in this election by promising that they may legalise gay marriage in Australia.  Although, this is something I desperately want to happen, I can not vote for Labor at the expense of asylum seekers.  I can not let kids be locked up for years on some tiny impoverished pacific island for years so I can have my relationship legally recognised.  I can not and I will not.

I’m lucky.  I don’t live in Australia any more and therefore, I can legally remove myself from the electoral roll.  My friends in Australia do not have that option.  I really have no idea how the ones who feel the same way I do are going to do when election day rolls around.  If I had to vote, I would cast an invalid vote for the first time in my life.  I would throw away my political say – and in essence I have done that by removing myself from the electoral roll.

Australia, you disappoint me.  I thought you were better than this.  I really did.  As things stand now, you are making my decision to give up my Australian citizenship a really easy one.

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Australia, what has happened to you?

Oh Australia, my dear birth country, what on earth has happened to you? As a kid I remember you being a country that welcomed immigrants, cause come on, with the exception of the Aboriginals, we were all immigrants, some had just been here a bit longer than others. However, as I got older you gradually became more and more, well, racist. You started to lock up refugees and asylum seekers, some for years on end, including kids and then pretended to act all shocked when they dared to protest about it. Then under the Howard government, we started to export our asylum seekers to a tiny island in the Pacific for what was called Off-Shore Processing but it was just a solution to deny them access to the Australian legal system. I really thought with the Labor party gaining power back in 2007 that we would start to see more humanity being shown.  I cheered when the processing station at Naru was closed down and there became a real effort to process refugees more quickly and you started to refuse to lock up kids.

However, then something changed. Things got dark again.  When I left your fair shores in 2010 I saw two immigrants one from Wales and one from England from the opposite sides of parliament trying to outdo each other in making the treatment of refugees worse.  The Welsh woman won.  The woman from the supposedly liberal political party.

Now when I read the news, I’m glad I no longer live in Australia.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I’m ashamed of you. Your policies towards refugees are inhumane.  So inhumane in fact that even the conservative party, the guys who invented off-shore processing, are protesting against it.  Gillard, when it become okay to show cruelty towards people who want what your parents wanted – a better life for their children in Australia?  These people have lost everything, but instead of processing their asylum claims fairly and quickly, you are rewriting Australian law to make it legal to export them to Malaysia which has a terrible human rights record. These people will not receive fair treatment there in massively overpopulated refugee camps and you are well aware of this. You simply do not care. Is this is what Australia has become now? A nation that simply does not care about anyone but themselves? If this is the case, perhaps it’s best that I never return.

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