The Guardian 5 September, 2007

Enrol to vote!

The upcoming federal election will have enormous consequences on the future as Australia moves further into the 21st century. Prior to the 2004 election The Guardian outlined the Howard Government’s agenda and the policies and legislation he would use to achieve them. With the help of the right-wing religious Family First Senator, Steve Fielding, the Liberal/National Coalition gained control of the Senate for the first time in 30 years.

Amongst the list were: an all-out campaign to crush trade unions and completely dismantle the industrial relations system; wind back the achievements of Indigenous Australians over the last decades, re-claim their land and revert to the policy of assimilation; privatise the remainder of the Australian people’s publicly owned assets; step-up it’s degradation of the environment; and implement and use "anti-terrorism" laws to crush any dissent to the implementation of that agenda. Much of that agender has either been carried out in full or is well underway.

New electoral laws introduced — with the full support of the Labor Party — mean that new enrolments close at 8pm on the day the writs for the election are issued, i.e. the day the election is announced.

The Howard Government must be defeated at this election. An important factor in that defeat will be ensuring that every citizen of Australia who is not currently or correctly enrolled to vote does so as soon as possible, before the rolls are closed.

Youth

Only 58 per cent of 18 year olds were enrolled at the last federal election. It is essential that this number rise to 100 per cent. Even 17-year-olds can provisionally enrol before they turn 18 — but not vote until 18 — a good opportunity to get in first should John Howard call a snap election. If you are 17 now, but will turn 18 between the date of the announcement and the election then you will have an additional three days to enrol.

Unregistered new citizens

If you are a citizen of Australia but were not at the time of the last federal election it is compulsory that you be registered to vote. Failing to do so will result in a fine. Please follow the directions at the bottom of this article.

Overseas citizens

If you have a family member or friend who is an Australian citizen but who lives overseas make sure they have enrolled as an Overseas Elector. Not voting makes you liable for removal from the electoral roll.

Overseas travellers

If you are planning to travel overseas in the next couple of months make sure your registration is up to date. You can also notify the Electoral Commission in advance of your possible whereabouts.

Permanent residents

If you are permanent resident but have not taken out citizenship you are not eligible to vote unless you were a British subject (as per a specified list) who was enrolled to vote prior to 1984.

However, there may still be time to become a citizen and enrol before the election is called. If you are in the process of becoming a citizen at the time when the election is called then you have an additional three extra days to enrol.

To inquire about taking out citizenship call 13 1880 for the cost of a local call or go to www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/citizenship.htm#e for more information or an application pack.

To check you are registered correctly, or to register for the first time, or registered as an overseas voter visit the Electoral Commission website at www.aec.gov.au or phone 13 23 26 for the cost of a local call (mobile charges may be extra).

Remember, every vote counts and is needed to defeat the Coalition!

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