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    THE DEMOCRATIC ASSEMBLY -- DISCUSSION TWO -- VOTER QUALIFICATION

     

    VOTING IN A DIRECT OR PURE DEMOCRACY

     WHO GETS TO VOTE IN A DIRECT DEMOCRACY?

     

    canberra

    This POST is about the democratic idea of Australian citizenry, in a pure Democratic Society, 

    We discuss and propose some ideas which appear to be obvious, and some which seem to be difficult, but all are relevant to the quest we have to find a way to Direct Democracy.


     PRESENT LEVELS OF POWER - The Westminster System:

    Federal: 

    At present... (2020) ...... Federal issues that affect the lives of all Australians, are decided by just over 200 salaried politicians, serviced by   public servants. (The Public Service)

    State and Territory:

    Added to this total, are the  salaried politicians that constitute the "Houses" of the States and Territories. They number around 460, plus their relevant public servants.

    flag act flag nsw flag nt flag s flag qld 

     flag s flag tas  flag vic flag wa

    Local Councils:

    At another level, are the councillors who decide things at local council level. There are about 537 local councils, in which around 5,000 people make decisions about local issues. Their public servants are  paid professional employees of the Council, whilst the councillors are paid expenses, and not a salary

    So it seems that for the nearly 25 million people in Australia, around 6,000 people take decisions on their behalf, and "representing" them. That's a percentage of about 0.02%.

    Most of the 6,000 arguably, have very little idea about what are the views, opinions and issues that are important to those 25,000,000  citizens that they claim to "represent". ....... Historically, there was never any way in which they could or should. 

    The "Party" system, developed over centuries, was regarded as "democratic", but it is fairly clear that it is not Pure democracy.

    Our quest then, in this topic and post, is to consider the aspect of the voters. The people who vote and decide issues concerning the running of the country.

    Who are the people -  the CITIZENS - entitled to vote and participate in making decisions in a Pure or Direct Democracy?

    An answer which comes immediately to mind, is that "everyone" has a view about life and the things that are important to them. Each individual has views and opinions about all kind of things.

    If a person is to vote about issues that affect everyone, then the facts and figures involved in those issues should be readily available to that person.

    There are a number of people, who have no interest in political matters, and are content to let others manage things.

    Indeed, it could be argued that the majority of us have always been in that situation, standing, as it were, on the touchlines complaining or applauding the team running the game ... the government.

    ......... OK... we got to choose a team..(party), but after they were chosen, they went in to play, and more or less did what they felt like, and most of the time did not ask the people.


    1. Entitlement to vote in a Direct Democracy:

    Is the age of a person relevant to the entitlement to vote?

    At what age does a person obtain a view able and/or needed to be heard and considered?

    Recently, certain young people have taken the public stage, in frustration at several aspects of life as they see it.

    A young Swedish lady has been voicing her feelings globally, and has been listened to by many. She was 16 years of age when she began.    

    greta thunberg

     

     

     

    Proposition: Anyone aged 16 years or over is entitled to a single vote in a direct or pure democracy. 

     

     

     

     

    2. Compulsory or Voluntary voting:

    Forcing people to vote is regarded as unnecessary by some people, since there are a number of people who have no interest in matters political, KOALAand are content to live their lives privately, without getting involved in the decisions of life..

     

     

     


    Proposition:

    Voting in a Direct Democracy would be voluntary and not compulsory. There is a view that this results in only the people who have something to add to a debate or argument may decide to vote.

    The right to participate exists for all citizens, but requires a motivation to exercise that right, in addition to some qualification.

     


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    3.  A citizen's Qualification to vote in a Direct Democracy:    

    The primary qualification to obtain voting status surely has to be "Australianism"?

    In order to discuss this aspect of our quest, we'll consider the government view of "Aboriginality", which has a certain relevance to the argument:

    The definition of Aboriginality has a long and contentious history in Australia. Different classification systems have been used over the years.

    Even today, two very different definitions are concurrently in use.

    1. Predominating in legislation, a definition states that an Aboriginal is:

    'A person who is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia'.

    2. The other, predominating in program administration but also used in some legislation and court judgements, defines an Aboriginal as someone :

    "who is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia, identifies as an Aboriginal and is accepted by the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal'"

      (Learn more)

    So, what exactly is an Australian Citizen?

    A person born in Australia, to Australian parents, is a "natural" Australian. But such a person may choose at a later age, NOT to be an Australian... seeking citizenship elsewhere, and therefore owe an allegiance to another Nation.

    It seems to this discussion, that the boundaries of Nationalities, create borders which are jealously guarded, and each Nation protects itself often for varying reasons, but the fact that most Nations have expensive "Defence" forces, demonstrates perhaps, how humans trust each other!

    One has to mention that this mistrust by a population for the people of another Nation, is often engineered in conditions of non-democracy, by the few people who "lead" a Nation, and determine its path.

    For their own agendas of power or wealth, influence or glory,  such "leaders" can create mistrust, dislike or even hatred for another "nation" by propaganda including carefully staged events.

    Historically, this scenario has been often recorded, and can still  be viewed today in parts of the World.

    It is worth quoting the Australian government about "Australianism" :

    Australia is one of the most ethnically diverse societies in the world today.

    Almost one in four Australian residents were born outside Australia and many more are first or second generation Australians, the children and grandchildren of recently arrived migrants and refugees.

    This wide variety of backgrounds, together with the culture of Indigenous Australians who have lived on the Australian continent for more than 50,000 years, have helped create a uniquely Australian identity and spirit.

    Since the 1960s, the face of Australia has changed remarkably. While large numbers of migrants have continued to come from traditional sources like the United Kingdom and New Zealand, there have been large numbers of people from many countries ; for example;  Italy, Greece, Holland, Germany, South Africa, Ethiopia, China, Vietnam, Iran and Lebanon.

    The contribution that these migrants make to Australian society, culture and prosperity has been an important factor in shaping the modern Australia.

    Australia's population today is roughly 25 million people. The country's vast openness means it has the lowest population density in the world - only two people per square kilometre(Learn more)


    citizenship   

    More relevance from the Department of Immigration concerning becoming an "Australian":

    Being an Australian citizen is a privilege not a right. 

    (This a statement presumably made to those intending to apply for citizenship, since it seems reasonable to assume that a person born of Australian parents in Australia has a "right" to be called Australian?).

    In fact, the following is a quote from the govermnment website:

    "Children born in Australia automatically acquire Australian citizenship if at least one parent is an Australian citizen or a permanent resident at the time of the child's birth, according to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website."

    It certainly seems that the question is a political football, with several departments in the Federal government having differing views about aspects of the subject, which definitely require a sort out... but not here.

    (Continuing the statements made to intending citizens of Australia):

    "While you are granted entitlements as a citizen of Australia there are important responsibilities you must accept too.

     

    Responsibilities and privileges

    As an Australian citizen, you have new responsibilities to:

    Behave in accordance with Australia's democratic beliefs; respect the rights and liberties of Australia; follow and obey the law; vote in federal and state or territory elections, and in referenda; defend Australia if necessary; serve on jury duty if summoned.

    As an Australian citizen, you are eligible for certain entitlements.

    You can:

    Apply for an Australian passport; leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want; ask for help from an Australian consulate if in trouble overseas; vote in federal, state or territory elections; vote in a Constitutional referendum or plebiscite; seek election to parliament, if you are aged 18 years or over and are not dual citizen; register the birth of your children in another country as an Australian citizen; 

    At your citizenship ceremony, you will make the Australian citizenship pledge.

    "You promise to remain loyal to Australia and its people and to share and uphold Australia's democratic beliefs; rights; liberties; and laws".

    Australia is a democracy. You can freely elect representatives to run the country and make laws on your behalf.

    Parliamentary democracy  - The people you elect as representatives are answerable to the public for their decisions.

    Rule of law ... All Australians are equal in the eyes of the law. No person or group gets preferential treatment.

    Living peacefully ... We prefer discussion, peaceful persuasion and democracy. We do not use violence to bring about change.

    Respect for all individuals  ...We treat all Australians with dignity and respect. No matter their beliefs, traditions and background.

    Compassion  ..We always show a spirit of 'mateship'. We come together to help and support each other during times of need.

    Freedoms for citizens...Freedom of speech and freedom of expression

    You are free to say what you want on any subject, without harming others. You must also respect how other Australians think or express themselves.

    Freedom of association...You are free to join any: political party; trade union; religious group; cultural group, or social group

    You can refuse to join a group if you do not want to join a group.

    You are free to follow any religion or not, as long as you do not break laws.

    Equality in Australia : Our laws make sure no one is treated differently because of race, gender, disability or age.

    Men and women are treated equally in Australia. You are free to make your own choices on personal matters.

    The laws protect both men and women from intimidation and violence.

    Both men and women:  can work and go to school; can become politicians; can join the defence and police forces and are treated fairly and equally in court"

    (More about immigration)

     (These observations and notes are made within the present framework of Australian government arrangements.)


     Therefore, the qualification of being an Australian citizen, offers the right to vote on subjects applicable to the government of the country, particularly within the framework of a Direct or Pure Democracy.

    This right already exists and requires no change to the Constitution to make it so.

    What  are the proposed aptitudes or requirements that qualifies an individual as an Australian citizen and therefore to have a right to participate in a  Pure Democracy?

    1. The ability to speak and understand a reasonable fluency of the English language, which is the official language of Australia.    (This could be contentious).

    This proposal is somewhat contentious, because many believe that the rule could be discretionary, yet it seems evident that for a person to understand the ways of life, (social, administrative, lawful etc.,), a sound knowledge of English seems to be mandatory. The level of that fluency may be determined by informed discussion. If a newly arrived migrant obtains citizenship and becomes a citizen, they have the right to vote, and this carries an obligation to understand, in the official language of the country,  the issues involved, in a Pure or Direct Democracy.

     AGED PEOPLE

      

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    MONEY

     

     


     2.  A citizen is a natural person who identifies as an Australian and is accepted by the Australian community as an Australian.

    A citizen shows a willingness to accept Australia as "home" and to belong wholly to the Australian Nation, offering to the Australian Nation the benefits of individual loyalty, respect and personal endeavour, whilst upholding the principles, laws, rights and liberties shared by all citizens of Australia. 

    An Australian citizen may have dual nationality, but in maintaining that duality, gives up the right to certain voting and political rights in Australia.

    It is obvious that a person may always carry an affection for the place of one's  birth and infant nurture. If that affection is so strong that it  leads to an inability in an individual to make the promises of Australian citizenship, without doubt, without mental reservation of any kind, then so long as that person accepts the responsibilities of living as a guest in the Australian house, they shall be welcome as guests, but not have the benefits of citizenship.


     3.  There are some Forty-Six areas of government, which require continual attention, improvement and administration. 

    (See "Ministries").

    Some of these require specialist knowledge in order to make decisions, and, in general, that knowledge is derived from the Australian Public Service. or APS(Learn more here)

     In our present system, the politicians acting as "Ministers" may or may not have any training or understanding of their "portfolio" as it is called.

    The job of these Ministers, is to present the facts about proposals, (supplied them by their public servants), to the cabinet, and the party in power makes decisions. Regrettably, on occasions, Ministers make decisions and announce them, without providing the factual, scientific or reasoning for that decision

    The Australian Public Service, (APS),  is the authority charged with providing the facts and figures upon which we can manage our country.

    Therefore, it is relatively logical, that  members of the general public, (originally from whom the politician comes ), could make similar decisions, and as relevant to the issues, given similar information.

    Individuals have a wide and varying set of interests in Life. These interests are based on experience, education, learning, background, and general interest in issues that affect the population.

    Of those 46 areas of government we referred to above, one individual may have a personal interest in a few...perhaps half a dozen.

    Talking to individuals has led us to think that perhaps this number, whilst not being compulsory or fixed, maybe the extent of those interests an individual may have.

    Having an interest in a subject, is not the same as being able to understand it, even more to have sufficient knowledge in order vote about aspects of the subject. 

    Therefore, in order to "qualify" to vote on a subject within a pure democratic framework, one should have some prior understanding of the subject, which might be acquired by reading and learning generally.

    For example: Social security  and welfare expenditure continues to dominate our  National spending at around A$165 billion, a year, constituting approximately 35% of all our National expenditure.

    Managing these figures gets slewed each time a "new" party becomes the government, or a "new" Prime Minister gets elected by a party, having different ambitions, motives, ideas and endeavours.

    The kind of decisions required in this area of our National planning, need the voter to understand the parameters of the subject to a certain degree, and gaining that interest and qualification, enables a second vote for matters in this area.

    Each citizen in our voting proposal is automatically entitled to one vote, and then can earn further votes, dependent upon their level of interest, learning, (prior or gained), knowledge and understanding of the facts involved in any particular area of decision.

    In a Direct Democracy, there would be no lobbying of the Public Service, on pain of expulsion and perhaps prosecution. Therefore, the question of corruption of interests in our National economy may become thoroughly reduced.

    How are those votes earned?  What is the proposed procedure for qualification to vote on a particular area of National interest?

     One can immediately recognise that a medically qualified person would have the necessary qualifications to vote on matters affecting public health, medicine and the provision of (for example), hospital services, medicare etc..

    In the past, some medical people have become health Ministers in Australian government.

    There may be as many as half a million medically qualified people who would be uniquely able to be regarded as "qualified" to vote automatically on medical matters in a Pure Democracy.

    Of these perhaps half may not wish to vote on a particular issue. It is possible that in a Pure Democracy, the issues of medical services, may not require the training and knowledge of doctors, being issues of a lower degree of medical content.

    For example one may think of the provision of aged care facilities, and staffing levels... an area of great interest just now.

    Combined with this need for knowledge, would be a requirement to be able to grasp the intricacies of the financial aspects of a proposal, but given the services of an efficient APS, decisions may be reached by democratic means.

    How is all this possible?

    These sketchy outlines will need much thought and arrangement, but we see no barrier to this development if sufficient people think it might be a good idea, and put their minds to work on it.

    For centuries, people have been kept relatively  "in the dark" about matters of National importance.

    60,000 Australians died in the first world war, as the result of decisions made by a handful of politicians, those decisions based on their personal  views and opinions.

    If a system of Direct Democracy had existed, back in 1914, the question may have been put to voters: "Should Australia go to war about a European matter?"

    The facts and assessments of the decision would be presented to the voters, and a vote would determine the outcome. Such a thing could never have been done in 1914, but today the tool we have is right before us. The internet.

    For the first time in human history, we have the means to obtain Direct or Pure Democracy. In a way just like those first Greeks in the market place or before the Parthenon in Athens.

    Those Greeks were also "Qualified".

    Male citizens in Athens could vote on all the decisions that affected the city and serve on juries. However, the right to vote in the democracy was not open to everyone. Citizen women and children were not allowed to vote. Slaves and foreigners living in Athens (known as metics) were banned from participating in government. Participants would hear "orators" describe the reasons for a decision, and argue the benefits and downsides of the question, at the end of which, the citizens would vote.


    How would a system of Pure or Direct Democracy work in practice?

    Suppose we look at a present example of how such a system might be made to work, fairly, and for everyone's benefit.

    The portal for corporations or any faction,  to propose their ideas in Australia, would have to be set up and organised to be corruption and lobby-free, yet able to prepare such suggestions for consideration by the voters.

    No doubt, the Australian Public Service, (APS), have a system for such approaches already. 

    So; let's imagine a corporation which is owned by foreign investors - (we leave that description vague, because we do not want to raise matters of National xenophobia) - sets up an Australian registered company based in Adelaide, South Australia, to further their aims in Australia. It should be remembered that an "Investor" is a person lending cash. in order reap a profit at some future period.

     BIGHT2

     

     

     

    BIGHTUsing loans from the investors who own the  parent company, they propose to fund exploratory work in the ocean off the coast of South Australia in the Great Australian Bight.

     This is an issue which affects all Australia, and all Australians, as may be witnessed by the public responses to a similar proposal already made

    Therefore, permission to carry out this proposal should be put to the citizens of Australia, and not left to an APS department.

    The foreign corporation are looking for oil.

    The application to sea-bed test relates to sonic testing - (explosions on the sea bed to guage the presence of oil-bearing rock formations). The financial and environmental aspects of the proposal are set out in an approprate fashion, so that each citizen who wishes to may study them. At an appropriate time, a vote is mustered, and all citizens who wish to, register their votes.

    1. All citizens have one automatic vote they may cast.

    2. However, in addition, another citizen may have acquainted themselves with oil exploration, pre-qualified themselves to vote on these associated subjects, and have looked at the proposal in the fashion of any professional who has to acquire CPE points to maintain their licence to operate.

    Doctors, Veterinary people, accountants, lawyers, and many others, have to follow this path and show that they are up to date with contemporary learning. 

    So if any citizen wishes to get involved in this particular part of running the country's resources, they have demonstrate their qualification, and register their interest in that area.

    In our quoted example, they may, for example, already be an oil company employee, or be a retired taxi-driver with time to spare and therefore able to spend time qualifying their secondary votes in whatever areas interests them.

    As previously mentioned there are 40+ areas we need to address in running the country, and if just 10% of our citizens get involved in taking up extra votes, there will be nearly 300,000 people with an extra vote to cast in decisding most areas of National management., in place of the present  handful of departmental officials. 

    Until this time in our history, such an arrangement could have been viewed as impossible, but today the internet has handed us the ability to be Truly Democratic.

    For further example, we may decide that further votes may be obtained by citizens in the following ways, (just as examples):

    • A person who has taken the trouble to obtain tertiary education qualifications, or trade qualifications, may have an extra vote, just for that success.;
    • Citizens who care for others may be allocated extra votes in areas allied to that task;
    • Service personnel have an interest in defence matters and may qualify for a vote in those areas;
    • Emergency service personnel may receive a further vote whilst in that job, and may retain it with continuing CPE-like education after leaving.
    • Teachers and others may have extra votes in related matters, as would accountants and lawyers.
    • All these subject to the initial and continuing approval of voting citizens.

     In such a system, we would require no politicians, but only a robust and organised Australian Public Service, providing the questions to be asked and the parameters for answering the questions. Just as did the orators of old.

    This is what they do now, but pass the signing off to politicians; in a Direct Democracy, it would be the citizens who decide.

    There would be little lobbying possible by interested parties, except perhaps via a media or press base. But the information received "For" and "Against" a proposal from the APS would provide possibly more factual information that a media could provide. Therefore, buying off political parties or individuals by those with most to gain from a proposal, would lose its appeal. Transparency becomes a norm.

    Problems?

    Yes.

    A voting and registration system would need careful construction, so that a result would be as accurate and incorruptible as possible. Surely we have the skills to construct such a device?

    Voters do not need to go to a place to vote, unless they have no internet. In which case, public libraries or similar may serve a purpose. computer 1

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    In our example of the Bight drilling proposal then, an APS woud produce the details of the proposal, it's advantages and its disadvantages, in as factual form as possible. That is their job. The proposal might be broken down into stages, as with most such proposals. The vote on stage one is taken, and 450,000 registered and qualified citizens vote. 

    320,909 vote against the proposal, and 129,091 vote in favour. The proposal goes no further.

    So, isn't there regret and stress among the 129,091 voters who wanted it to go ahead?

    At present the answer would be yes, but given the fact that everyone would be able to see the fairness and egality of the system, surely there would be a more general acceptance.


    At present a handful of politicians sign off on a proposal, usually for political reasons, and those of the general public who are not in favour are very stressed because of their frustration and inability to affect the outcome of proposals. And that stress is chronic ... the very worst kind of stress.

    early parliament

     

    When the Westminster System was in use a few hundred years ago, people were probably generally unaware about issues in the political domain, so that politicians were able to do more or less as they chose.

    Not so today.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     These thoughts are bare bones of  an idea born of a need for change from a system long overdue for improvement.

    Think about these things and let us know if you agree or disagree, or have an alternative idea.


    Also read: #https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy

    #truedemocracy, #directdemocracy

     

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    Decide .... or get off the pot.!
    THE DEMOCRATIC ASSEMBLY -- DISCUSSION ONE -- M...
     

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