It’s far too warm in Australia, yet we’re wrapped up with far too many layers of government. We’re set up in such a way that we have a federal government looking after the country as a whole, a state government who look after each state, and then a local council government looking after main cities/towns/districts within the states.
As voting is compulsory at all levels in QLD and NSW (I believe other states only have to vote at State and Federal elections), I’ve recently started getting repetitive strain injury from having to place my vote at so many polling booths already this year. We’ve just had the state election, now onto the local council election and in a few months time we’ll then have the federal election.
I can see the need for both state and federal governments, despite the fact it creates some annoying inconsistencies between the states which should be perhaps eradicated at a federal level, but that’s by the by.
I’m just starting to feel suffocated with the amount of different government bodies we have to vote for at different layers of government. Sure, I get that it’s a democracy, but I don’t see the point of compulsory voting for us to choose at the local council level. I think other states have got it right with it being voluntary.
If you’re going to make it compulsory, could it not just be part of the state elections? Are local councils not looking after major cities/districts WITHIN the state? Could they not just put a sub-section on the ballot paper where we can vote for local council candidates at state elections ? Would it not save paper and people’s time? Or is it really a money-making exercise to run so many elections in a year that people start getting a little sick of having to plan their time around them, so would rather be fined $20 for not voting? I’m sure the amount of $20 they raise from people who are voter fatigued is a nice little nest egg.
If not using a sub-section for local government when voting at state elections to bring them in line with one another, then could we not have the state governments look after and appoint their own candidates to look after each main section that local government currently look after? To me, they look as though they belong in the same bucket.
For example, state governments generally look after:
- public hospitals
- fire brigade
- main roads
- emergency services
- education and
while local goverments generally look after:
- community facilities
- waste disposal
- animal control
- local roads and
- building approvals.
Let’s scale back the government a bit and have a state government who’s responsibility expands across all of the above items. It’s up to the states to then appoint their own local representatives to look after those items in each of major cities and districts for ease of control.
Perhaps giving too much power to a major political party might make us worse off but maybe the fact state government is more concentrated, people would consider their vote more carefully and maybe, just maybe, the local councils will have greater control placed over them with less of a chance of them going broke as they tend to do. Though the same can be said perhaps for state governments!
Maybe for now we should take baby steps and start with ballot papers at state elections to include a subsection on local governments. That way we have better transparency of all the layers of government and democracy is still intact, yes? Then perhaps those parties could actually campaign together rather than us seeing those sad individuals sitting on corners with their deckchairs and signs for months on end. Would it cause confusion with voters on who’s who? Maybe, but perhaps it’s worth at least trying first.
The majority of people I’ve spoken to in the last week about the local council elections this weekend don’t really have a clue who they want to vote for, seeing as the state elections happened only a few weeks ago. No one has paid attention so is it really worth having them separated and having us vote on who should now be mayor? Could it even negate democracy when we don’t care in the first instance?
If putting them together, there’s more of a chance that there would be increased awareness of each candidate and party; who they are, what they stand for and how they are supposedly going to change the local world we live in. It’s much like opening a door and letting a fresh breeze blow through all the stuffy polling booths we’ve been wrapped up in.
Perhaps we do need the layers of government for now but how about we just thin them out a little so that we can breathe in between the requirement for our vote at too many elections. However, if it really doesn’t make a difference with voter fatigue, transparency of local government, and general levels of giving a shit, then might I suggest we leave the appointment of local councils up to the state governments as a next step or make voting voluntary at the local council level!