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Issue #1615      October 23, 2013

Compulsory voting for WA council elections

CPA President Vinnie Molina campaigned for the City of Vincent South Ward in the October 19 council elections in Perth. His profile as a committed trade unionist and independent candidate went to over 10,800 residents.

The state government’s forced amalgamation policy aimed to attack the third tier of governance in the state by reducing the number of local councils from 30 to 14 was one of the issues that triggered Vinnie’s nomination to run. The Barnett Liberal government’s lack of consultation sparked several councils to mobilise their residents in opposition to the amalgamations.

Some councils however decided to make submissions that modified government proposed boundaries but that played into the hands of the government. Vinnie believes the fight should be directed to opposing the forced amalgamations outright and instead demanding community consultation.

The Vinnie For Vincent Campaign attracted lots of attention in the local community newspaper with several articles emphasising his Communist Party membership with headlines that read things like “Plan to paint the city red”. This prompted many residents to make contact and ask questions and a number said they had browsed through the CPA website during the campaign. Many commented that they respected the honesty and passion they saw in the campaign.

On Election Day the incumbent Liberal candidate got returned with over 1,300 votes followed by the ALP candidate with 1,200. They both shared 50% of the votes. The other 50% was shared amongst 6 other candidates with Vinnie Molina coming 7 out of 8 with 246 votes. A number of progressive candidates ran in the local elections with Socialist Alliance Councillor Sam Wainright being re-elected to the Fremantle council with 602 votes or 58% of the ballot.

The most disappointing aspect in the electoral process was the lack of residents’ participation with only 30 percent enacting their democratic right. WA and Tasmania are the only states that have not introduced compulsory voting in council elections. In the media Vinnie triggered discussion on compulsory voting for council elections in WA. The CPA advocates for a compulsory proportional representation electoral system. Along with that it is important that citizens are well informed and educated about their rights. The Electoral Commission must invest more resources in promoting the electoral process.

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