By the time you read this I will have left Australia a wanted man.
No, really. I broke the law and I am unrepentant. Maybe they’ll get me some day, maybe they won’t. But I am on the run, on the lam, a fugitive, a black stain on my family’s honor. Accused by a public servant, a government agent, of wrongdoings most heinous.
My crime is to have forgotten to vote in a local council election in my suburb. The council in question is called Stonnington and they had an election earlier this year to which I gave exactly zero fucks. I knew that voting is compulsory in Australia but I thought that this was restricted to federal and state elections. It turns out that I was wrong.
Here in the cloudy state of Victoriastan, under the malevolent eye of serial pervert premier Dan Andrews, it transpires that this mandatory dosage of democracy also extends to facile and stupid council elections. The first I knew about it was a few months back when I received a letter in the mail inviting me to explain why I had not voted in the recent election. I suppose that I had a good excuse seeing as I had moved from Western Australia where it is not compulsory to vote for the usual corrupt activist hacks who typically run for local council.
Instead I simply threw the letter in the bin.
Another month passed and then I got a second missive. This was a bit more curt. It seemed that my lack of diligence in prostrating myself before the administrative git who was responsible for sending me these letters had landed me in hot water. My failure to comply had moved up a notch and I was now faced with the reality of having to pay a fine which was somewhere in the region of $90 for first failing to vote and then failing to explain myself to the proper authorities.
I threw the second letter into the bin as well.
A month later came the third letter. My fine had now been increased to over $100 due to the additional administrative costs that my refusal to bow down to unelected officials had caused. If I did not comply and pay the fine my case may be moved to a local court that would view my behavior very badly, blah blah blah, for which I would be liable for court costs, and probably community service, as well as a lecture by the local council worker who has Down syndrome.
Into the bin it went.
They may send a fourth letter, buggered if I know, but I am on the lam. Out of the country. Gone overseas. Permanently fucked off for good. Good luck getting it from me.
Australia is the only country in the world that has compulsory voting, and it is inherently undemocratic. There is no significant difference between not having a vote and having to vote. Both options impose a distinct lack of choice in the matter. It is obvious why not being able to vote is a bad thing but the compulsory voting issue is nebulous for many people to grasp.
If voting is compulsory then politicians do not have to hustle. They know that 95% of the population will turn up, and since they know that people vote along tribal lines then the majority of the job is already done. Either they are on the nose this time or the opposition is on the nose. Either way they get to palm government office back and forth with very little effort on their part. A politician who hustles in this environment sees very little advantage over a lazy and incautious opponent.
But if voting is not compulsory then politicians who do not hustle are at a severe disadvantage to their opponents who get out amongst the electorate in order to ascertain what is going on at the ground level.
In other words, the beneficiaries of non-compulsory voting are the people. The beneficiaries of compulsory voting are the politicians.
None of the letters were sent to me by certified mail so of course I didn’t take the issue seriously. It is a complete joke, and the public officials know that they will receive a reasonable amount of payments from people who do not understand how the system works. The same thing happened last year when I refused to partake in the government census, another mandatory exercise which is supposedly punishable by large fines to the recalcitrant.
The woman who was responsible for my local area turned up three times to give me the forms to fill out. Each time I politely refused. On her final attempt I invited her onto the front porch due to the fact that it was raining. On my own ground she relaxed somewhat and let down her formally steadfast public service manner.
“You know that you risk a large fine if you don’t fill this out,” she said.
I examined the large envelope that she had brought for me. “It’s addressed to the householder,” I replied. “You can’t impose a fine on someone if you don’t know their name. And the Act under which you’re operating specifically forbids you to obtain it by communicating with other agencies.”
She sighed. “And I don’t suppose that you’re going to give me your name.”
I smiled. “I don’t think that’s even remotely likely.”
Australia – attempting to fuck over its own citizens at every opportunity. World’s most undemocratic democracy. I won’t miss it in the slightest.