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.