Armadale is the south-eastern-most suburb of Perth, the state capital of Western Australia.
My name is Bret Busby.
I have created and published this web page, to publish material relating to issues relating to the 2005 state election, as it affected Armadale in Western Australia.
Well, it has happened, and, I suppose, it just had to happen in Western Australia. I have this week been convicted for failing to be dishonest in the 2005 state election. In the Armadale magistrates court on Monday, 26 March 2007, I was convicted for failing to be dishonest in the 2005 state election. And, the actions of the WA Electoral Commission and the western australian state solicitor's office, saw to it that court hearings were held in secret, without my knowledge, as part of the process. And, because this is western australia, not only did I receive one conviction for failing to be dishonest in the election, but, as according to western australian law, I was convicted twice for the same instance of the same offence of failing to be dishonest, in the same trial. It is double jeopardy, legal in western australia.
When I was a secondary school student, in my second year at secondary school, my then social studies teacher told me that I was too honest to be a politician. It is now clear that I should have taken more notice of what he said, as I now have two criminal convictions for failing to be dishonest in the election.
It is interesting to observe that the real criminals are safe in the houses of parliament – their refuge, where they get things such as “spent convictions” - no conviction officially recorded, and they include people found guilty by the courts, of multiple fraud offences, of shooting people, drunk driving (especially ministers of transport), and other offences against the people of the state. Can they get away with murder? Yes. It has happened, in the WA state parliament.
“WA – the state of crime and corruption.”
The ALP state government has been returned to power, and the local member of the Legislative Assembly (the lower house of the state parliament), Alannah McTiernan, has been returned to power, with an increased margin. At the close of the count on the voting day, with 82% off the votes counted, Alannah McTiernan (ALP) had 55.47 of the counted votes, and the nearest rival, Diane Johnson (Liberal) had 26.31 % of the counted votes. Each of the other candidates, had less than the number of informal (invalid) votes, which means not enough votes for the candidates other than those two, to get their election nomination deposits back.
The coverage of the election, leading up to the voting day, by the local media, has been disappointing, with the local media favouring the sitting member, apparently due to advertising revenue received by the local media, from the sitting member. Notably absent from “news” articles relating to local issues during the election period, was reference to all of the other candidates who were not the local sitting member, in articles featuring the local sitting member. The local media simply refused to recognise other local candidates, where the local candidates had not paid great amounts of money to the local media.
The local media failed to perform its function of informing the public properly about the election and the candidates, being the first state election, for a number of elections, where the local newspapers failed to publish photographs and profile/policy statements about the local candidates, to inform the local voting public, as to who were their local candidates and for what they stood. And, the local radio station failed to give balanced coverage of the election candidates, showing apparent selective favouritism. The failure of the local media, to provide balanced and impartial information to the public, is disappointing.
The latest and at this stage, final, figures for the Legislative Assembly (lower house of state parliament) seat of Armadale, from the Western Australian Electoral Commission web page at http://www.electionswa.com.au/content/District_Armadale.htm , follow. The number of eligible voters, is shown as being 28,099. The number of votes cast, was 25,396. The number of informal (or, invalid) votes cast, was 1,570. The number of registered eligible electors who did not vote, was 2703.
The winner of the election, Alannah McTiernan of the ALP, obtained 54.96% of the valid votes, 46.6% of the registered eligible voters. The second-place getter, Diane Johnson of the Liberal Party, obtained 26.23% of the valid votes, 22.24% of the registered eligible voters.
The other candidates' results are relatively insignificant. None got more than 10% of the valid votes cast, so none of the other candidates are eligible for a refund of the nomination deposit required to be paid to nominate.
The results for these other candidates, are made worse for three other significant reasons, that follow.
The first, is that the percentage of the votes cast, that were informal (or, invalid), was 6.18%. None of the candidates other than the two previously named in this item, obtained as much as that percentage. The number of invalid votes cast, was, as stated above, 1570. None of the candidates other than the two previously named in this item, obtained that many votes.
The second reason, is that 9.61% of the eligible voters, did not vote. None of the candidates other than the two candidates previously named in this item, obtained that percentage of votes, relative to the number of eligible voters. The number of registered eligible voters who did not vote, as stated above, was 2703. None of the candidates other than the two previously named in this article, obtained that many votes.
The third reason, is that the total of the number of invalid votes cast and the number of registered eligible voters who did not vote, that is, the number of registered eligible voters who did not cast a valid vote, is 4273, or, 15.20% of the registered eligible voters. Clearly, none of the candidates, other than the two previously named in this item, obtained this many votes.
So, more registered eligible voters, did not cast valid votes, than voted for any of the candidates other than the two candidates previously named in this item.
This is an unfortunate judgement of the unsuccessful candidates, and I believe that there are three factors that must share significant responsibility for this.
The first, is that the local media refused to acknowledge the existence of all of the candidates, and, the local printed media strongly promoted the winner of the election, to the exclusion of all of the other candidates, apart from occasionally mentioning the second-place getter. Thus, to a great extent, the local printed media deliberately controlled the outcome of the election, directly influencing voters to vote for the sitting member. Whilst an Internet website was published, that included information voluntarily submitted by each of the candidates, for each of the seats in the state election, the website was not well promoted, and was discovered, when it was discovered, by accident, with candidates still not aware of the existence of the website, seven days before the voting day. Thus, the involvement of the media, and, the refusal of the printed media, to present balanced and impartial information about who were the local candidates, and for what they stood, is a poor reflection of the standards of local journalism, and is a serious cause for concern at the lack of local journalistic integrity, and indicates an unwillingness of the local media, to properly inform the local public, about local issues that affect the members of the local public.
A possibility, relating to this, which could lead to the voting public being more properly informed about the candidates, is for the state electoral commission to do as it does with local government elections that it operates. The Electoral Commission has, as part of the nomination procedure, the submission to the Electoral Commission, of a photograph of the candidate and a brief (up to about 250 words) profile/policy statement of the candidate, submitted for each candidate, as part of the nomination process. When the nominations are closed, and the candidates' nominations declared as being nominated, the Electoral Commission sends to each registered eligible voter, a document that includes the submitted photograph and profile/policy statement for each candidate, for all of the candidates who successfully nominated, as soon as possible after the nominations are declared. This allows the registered eligible voters, to know who ware their candidates, and, for what they stand. If it is good enough for local government elections, under Western Australian law, it should be good enough also for state government elections, under Western Australian law, and, it would help overcome the refusal of the local media, to properly inform the voting public, about the election.
The second, with the relatively large proportion of registered eligible voters, who did not cast valid votes, is the issue of the use of preferential voting, and the outlawing of informing the voting public, with the use of “representations of voting slips”, that they may vote in a way that is the same as “first-past-the-post” voting. If the preferential voting system was replaced with “first-past-the-post” voting, voting would be simpler, counting the votes would be simpler, and the election results would be known earlier. And, the cost of running the elections, would be considerably reduced, saving the taxpayers, money. If “first-past-the-post” voting was the method of voting in the elections, voters who want to vote, would not be led to believe that they are required to vote for people to whom they object, in order to cast a valid vote, which is the way of the preferential voting system. With the freedom to vote only for the candidate for whom a voter wants to vote, and, with the greater simplicity of voting, and less time needed to vote, that would happen with “first-past-the-post” voting, voters would be more inclined to cast valid votes. If it is good enough for local government elections, under Western Australian law, it should be good enough also for state government elections, under Western Australian law.
The third factor, which, whilst it would likely not reduce the proportion of registered eligible voters who do not vote, would likely reduce, if not eliminate, the invalid votes, is that the compulsion to vote, should be eliminated, so that, as in overseas countries, whilst voter registration is compulsory, voting in elections and referenda, is voluntary. Apart from the nuisance of invalid votes, is the wastage due to invalid votes, and that includes the wasted cost of dealing with the invalid votes in the counting of the votes cast in an election, and this could be significantly reduced, if not eliminated, by making voting voluntary. If it is good enough for local government elections, under Western Australian law, it should be good enough also for state government elections, under Western Australian law.
If all of these three problems would be overcome, then, perhaps, we may have fair elections, with more respectable outcomes, and, more respectable times taken to obtain the outcomes. And, less of the taxpayers' money would be wasted on government inefficiency.
I can be contacted by email by clicking on the link at Bret
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This web page was last updated on 30 March, 2007