There’s a bunch of new legislation up for debate in NSW Parliament over the next few weeks and some pretty major new policy initiatives from the Government. Rather than trying to give an update on everything that’s happening I’ll pick a few of the ones I think are the most important or interesting and give an overview.
Changes to voter enrolment
This week the Government introduced legislation to change the way new voters enrol.
The new system will do away with the old “opt-in” method of enrolling where the onus was on the voter to provide their details to the AEC. The Government’s proposal is to use information from departments and agencies such as the RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority) to automatically enrol those eligible. The Premier describes these changes as “revolutionary”.
About 10% of the electorate aren’t on the electoral roll (400,000 people) and one-third of these are under the age of 25. Given that younger voters tend to support Labor over the Coalition, this move could be seen as a cynical ploy to shore up Labor votes before the next election.
I personally don’t think who people vote for should matter when it comes to electoral reform. In this case it’s more important that people are actually enrolled to vote and participate in the process, particularly in the light of reforms under the Howard government that made it more difficult to enrol.
Civil libertarians are concerned about the use of data for secondary purpose. While I’m sympathetic to that point of view, if the Government can back up it’s guarantee of restricting the use of data to voter enrolment then I don’t have a major problem. Particularly since the Government already has this information (and much more).