History, politics & current affairs
The Fifth Estate
Right or Duty? Compulsory Voting in Australia
Sally Warhaft, Kim Rubenstein and Judith Brett
In a democracy, should voting be a citizen’s right or a citizen’s duty?
Australia is one of a small number of countries – including Argentina and Egypt – with mandatory voting. Australia is rare, within this small group of nations, in imposing penalties on citizens who fail to turn up to vote. Compulsory voting has been in place here since 1924 and it sets us apart from other advanced democracies. Less than 60% of the US voting-age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election.
For this conversation, we bring together citizenship law expert Kim Rubenstein and the eminent historian Judith Brett, author of From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory Voting. They trace the history of our voting system and examine how it’s shaped the tenor of our debates and our sense of ourselves and our representatives – plus, how the system may yet change. With Sally Warhaft, they discuss donkey votes, ballot boxes, barbeques and the wide-ranging implications of compulsory participation.Related listening: Housekeeping Podcast episode
The Wheeler CentreHousekeeping #1: Sizzle / Australia Podcast episode
The Wheeler CentreHousekeeping #2: ID / Government Podcast episode
The Wheeler CentreHousekeeping #3: No-Shows / Australian politics Podcast episode
The Wheeler CentreHousekeeping #4: Scrutiny / Government Podcast episode
The Wheeler CentreHousekeeping #5: Locked Out / Crime
Books and Ideas at Montalto
Tony Jones is best known as the host of ABC TV’s tightly controlled, agenda-setting and sometimes combative political panel programme, Q&A. Having presented the programme for almost ten years, Jones has learned a few things about tension, intrigue, complex plots and surprise attacks.
Those years of experience – not to mention the preceding decades as an ABC investigative reporter and foreign correspondent – have prepared Jones perfectly for his latest incarnation as a thriller writer. His debut novel, The Twentieth Man, tells an electrifying tale of crime, terror and international conspiracy and is set between the corridors of power in 1970s Canberra and the harsh mountain ranges of former Yugoslavia. Jones has a long-standing interest in the Balkans, having covered the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s during his stint as the ABC’s Europe correspondent.
In conversation with Jason Steger at Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, this veteran of Australian journalism discusses his foray into fiction and the experiences in Australia and overseas that have inspired it.
So What If …
AFL Can Cure Democracy?
In Melbourne, Australian Rules football is a way of of life and, for many, a religion. The phenomenally successful launch of the AFLW means football is more inclusive, and more democratic, than ever before.
Can we take lessons from the greatest game – and the greatest sporting culture – in human history and use them to transform our democracy? What…
So What If …
We Didn’t Gender Babies?
An increasing number of parents are choosing to raise their children gender-neutral. What will happen if the movement grows, and we raise whole generations of people who are not assigned a binary gender at birth? What would be the flow-on effects in health and education, and for our institutions of law and citizenship?
Is it possible to shield a child…
So What If …
Melbourne Was Underwater?
The experts have spoken – there’s no doubt the water is rising. But what will it mean for Melbournians?
Your suburban backyard might not be growing seaweed, but the effects will be felt across our city as we adapt to new ways of being. What might rising water levels mean for our ports and for waste management? How will our…
So What If …
We Didn’t Have Prisons?
Australia’s prison populations are booming and their demographics are heavily skewed – with Indigenous Australians shockingly over-represented. Why do we rely so heavily on prisons in our criminal justice system, and what would our society look like if we abolished incarceration? What are the alternatives in terms of prevention, deterrence and rehabilitation? What would we do about violent citizens? And…
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