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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Thin Edge

The Poll Vault has highlighted a very sinister piece of legislation. It regards stripping away the right to vote from prisoners. The loony right wing have found an easy button to push here. Why the hell should a murderer or rapist be allowed to vote? What is at stake here is the principle that citizenship carries with it certain rights. No longer is it a universal right that every Australian can vote, some cannot. What is worse that the ban on voting will now be applied to prisoners serving more than 3 years instead of 5. Will there be a day when any prisoner is stripped of the vote? As soon as the right is not for all, an abitrary line is drawn based on the judgement of the government, in this instance the term of the sentence, not even the crime. In other words, the right to vote is subject to opinion rather than birth or the acceptance of Australian Citizenship. The drafters of the constitution did not have this in mind when they wrote:

"No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth."

Yet this is what has happened. Perhaps in the future we can look forward to all ex-prisoners being removed from the electoral roll for a couple of years and an unreliable, unappealable method of "cleansing" the register. That in combination with the growing influence of the Christian Right that love this sort of policy will truly make us the 51st State of America.

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