Citizenship is not free. The protection of the State which all citizens enjoy is a national investment that requires a return in the form of taxes and other civic obligations such as jury duty and military service if required. In Australia, as in the case of 28 other countries, electoral voting is compulsory and has been since 1915. Though most countries see voting as a right, Australians generally consider it a duty and just another of their obligations to the nation. As a means of engaging the population in the political process and lessening the opportunity for interest groups and wealthy backers to hijack the vote it has been highly successful. But not all people agree with it, particularly conservative voters.
Following the Queensland State LNP Government's recent suggestion in a discussion paper that the state might consider reverting to voluntary voting, the opinion pages and the blogosphere have been having their say. Fortunately most of them are smart enough to see the real reason for raising the issue. Voluntary voting invariably advantages cashed up conservative political parties and industrial pressure groups. In addition, those citizens motivated enough to actively involve themselves in single political issues will naturally vote as a bloc. And divining the will of the people from patches of goers around the country who are up for it if they can pull themselves away from the box is not a smart way to run a democratic nation, especially when that nation is notoriously lax when it comes to politics.
I assume that before too long the interest in this issue will die down. That is good news for 2013. There is a plethora of important issues facing the nation, too many for us to be distracted by a non-issue raised by an authoritarian state government simply looking to test the waters to its own advantage. Come rain or shine the people will be out and about on polling day, any polling day, as is the way down under. Say g'day to the masses, tick the boxes then have a cup of tea.