IT SEEMS a lot of Toodyay voters may soon be copping $20 fines – for not voting.
Results suggest that at least half of everyone in Toodyay who was entitled to vote in last month’s compulsory Federal Referendum chose to ignore it.
Perhaps the question – giving Aboriginal people a Voice in Australia’s Constitution – was too hard for people to take seriously.
Or maybe it was just apathy, given that more than half of everyone entitled to vote a week later in local shire elections chucked their postal ballots in the bin.Read more
It needed only up to six boxes numbered and a reply-paid envelope dropped into a mailbox such as near the IGA store.
The result was the election of a lead candidate with the support of less than a fifth of everyone who was entitled to vote.
And the last of the three to win a seat did so with only six per cent support from everyone in the shire.
Next time we grumble about our council, remember that most people don’t seem to care about who makes the decisions.
But back to the referendum.
Even taking into account early, postal and absentee ballots, it seems most Toodyay people didn’t care enough to answer one of the biggest questions our nation has faced in more than 230 years.
Of the few that did, three-quarters voted ‘No’.
This was hardly surprising, given the lack of detail about how a ‘Ýes’ vote might work and the fact that country voters are generally more conservative in outlook than their city counterparts.
But that doesn’t explain why only 1286 people bothered to vote at the Toodyay Memorial Hall despite 3639 electors being listed on the local electoral roll.
Early and absentee votes accounted for about 10 per cent of all local ballots counted in last year’s Federal Election.
The Australian Electoral Commission says it is now checking the apparently overwhelming number of people who didn’t bother to vote and now risk fines.
The result was devastating for Aboriginal people throughout Australia.
The huge ‘No’ vote was seen as a setback for reconciliation, prompting a period of mourning and sorrow, then reflection on “where to from here” (See digital edition Page 8).
The answer may be more “Truth Telling”, and greater community awareness of Aboriginal culture and its place in our society.
Clearly, more people need to care.