Non-Australian citizens CAN VOTE

By Roger Hersey

What a great opportunity for advancing democracy in the CBD!

It is likely that many thousands of CBD residents do not know that they can vote in council elections. They assume that, as with the state and federal elections, they must be an Australian citizen – but this is not so.

It will be wonderful to get these people added to the electoral roll and voting to support a resident-friendly mayoral candidate.

Residents 3000 will be approaching the relevant council officers and the Victorian Electoral Commission for assistance in advising these people that they can vote and motivating them to enrol.  We will also ask the electoral officers to provide clear steps to easily and quickly enrol in time for the next mayoral election.

We seek the participation of owners’ corporations to post prominent information for their residents concerning voting.

We will also approach the City of Melbourne to arrange a town hall meeting for residents to meet and question the candidates in the upcoming election.

It is important that we all understand their attitude towards resident-related matters in the CBD such as:

  • Community development;
  • Supporting council in its excellent work in addressing overcrowding;
  • Ensuring council has sufficient resourcing to monitor the compliance of construction projects in matters such as working hours, dust and litter, traffic management, resident amenity, etc;
  • Addressing the security problems arising from having short-term stay strangers in our homes;
  • Management of CBD infrastructure as the CBD population booms;
  • Garbage collection;
  • Street and footpath cleanliness;
  • Graffiti removal;
  • Repair of vandalism;
  • Street landscaping;
  • Developing community resources; and
  • Support for the council community involvement initiatives.

The council cannot be everywhere at once and can benefit with help from the community to report issues that need attention.

Council has implemented a great reporting app for smartphones called “Snap Send Solve”.

It is such a positive move to get residents more involved in their city’s wellbeing.

Why is democracy so important in the Melbourne CBD?

The answer is simple – to prevent favoured status and vested interests.

We feel that this initiative to expand democracy to more residents will have a very positive impact in the future.  It helps in some small part to address the great imbalance in democracy in the CBD caused by the right of corporate entities to have two votes where residents only have one.

A 2015 multiple university report on democracy in Melbourne, commissioned by the Electoral Regulation Research Network puts its number one recommendation as:

“Limit the franchise for candidature and for voting in the MCC for lord mayor, deputy lord mayor and councillors of the MCC to residents on the electoral roll and non-citizen residents.”

Ref: Final report of ERRN LG Research Group: Melbourne Democracy – Marvellous?

2015. Research and recommendations by the Law Faculties of Monash and RMIT Universities.

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