Turning a blind eye, funding Indonesia’s genocide in West Papua, What’s the risk?

The down fall of dictators and the transition to democratic governments are opportunities to give citizens suffering under these repressive regime hope for a brighter future, writes Anthony Craig.

Opening up these countries to economic growth, democratic freedoms and opportunities is key. Yet most democracies believe or state they will, follow international treaties and conventions against torture, genocide and support for human rights.

Sadly, some regimes are not truly democratic. The fall of the Suharto regime, a military dictatorship in Indonesia in the late 1990's opened the door for those suffering years of oppression, to taste freedom for the first time. East Timorese was given a democratic vote after years of oppression, supervised by the United Nations in 1999.

The Indonesian Military who still have an enormous influence in Indonesian politics today, did not like the outcome of a free democratic vote, the aftermath resulted in a bloodbath. Thousands of East Timorese were murdered, large numbers of the population forced to relocate to West Timor and East Timor burnt to the ground.  

The evidence today in Timor is shocking. Mass graves, burnt out buildings and torture chambers can still be seen. No one has been brought to justice over these war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United Nations report on East Timor from 1975-1999 was damming on both Australia and other countries for supporting Indonesia's genocide.

The same military, murdered the Balibo Five and both Indonesia and Australia covered it up through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These strategies are not of a military under democratic control. West Papuans are a people who continue to suffer under Indonesian military rule today. They have suffered another slow genocide spanning 50 years.The world including Australia continues to turn a blind eye.

In June the United Nations Human Rights Committee met in Geneva  and the Indonesian government made a chilling statement. They made it very clear that Human rights are not a automatic guarantee and those pushing West Papuan separation from the Republic of Indonesia will be dealt with appropriately.  

Australia through its foreign aid program gives Indonesia over 500 million a year, when Indonesia spends over 8 billion on their military. A military which coincidentally commits mass murder and torture of the West Papuan people. People might asked the question, why worry about a few West Papuans when economic growth and trade should be the overriding consideration regarding relations with Indonesia.

The answer is very simple, dictatorships and corrupt governments when appeased, continue their corrupt practices which has a significant impact on free trade and open markets as well as companies trying to compete in the marketplace.  

So to say nothing, or turn a blind eye to these crimes, only encourages these corrupt military and government officials to continue a "business as usual" approach and does nothing to support an open, honest or responsible democratic government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade appeasement policy with Indonesia is alive and going full steam ahead. We have seen what Indonesia appeasement does. Recent history is full of examples of making a bad situation worse. If Indonesia is a democracy, then they should be able to prove it without getting up in arms and demanding payback. When politicians and Bureaucrats believe the rules don't apply to them, all citizens of a democracy need to be alarmed.

The question has to be asked, will turning a blind eye to Indonesian atrocities in East Timor, the murder of the Balibo Five and ongoing genocide in West Papua, come back to bite us. 

Anthony Craig writes from Lithgow NSW and is a Federal Executive Officer for the DLP

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty

Unfortunately for the Liberals, the first line of defense against compulsory voting is to not comply. People can secretly (or openly) break the law and take the view that when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. And many do.

Compulsory voting is more popular with the
left wing. The Liberals have opposed automatic voter enrollment while the ALP
pushed it through, and the LNP in Queensland have suggested voluntary voting
while Gillard and Swan bitterly opposed it. 

Liberals around the country have come out
in favour of voluntary voting. Unlike Gillard and Swan, many Liberals feel that
their decision to vote should be their own. Gillard and Swan know that
compulsory voting favours their side of politics.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, the first
line of defense against compulsory voting is to not comply. People can secretly
(or openly) break the law and take the view that when injustice becomes law,
resistance becomes duty. And many do.

This is why compulsory voting favours the
ALP. This is also why the ALP will campaign heavily on compulsory voting to
encourage the new 1.5 million voters who have been forced, or think they’ve
been forced onto the electoral roll, to vote. This could make a big difference, especially if they bring back Rudd.

This doesn't mean to say that everyone has
an opinion on compulsory voting. They don’t need to because compulsory voting
changes the flavor of the entire electoral process, from one of freedom to one
of conformity. Unfortunately many Australians still don’t see the difference.
But they can feel it.

In a system that is not free, some people
will always cut their losses and conform. In some ways it’s easier. It’s easier
to put your head down, conform and support the party – the ALP at least, but
not the Liberals. They tell people NOT to conform. They tell people NOT to
vote. They say it’s wrong to be forced against your will to attend the polling
booth. They suggest scrapping compulsory voting.

But why cut off your nose (by not voting)
to spite your face? Isn’t there a better way to protest in favour of democracy?

Some people would say that this is a reason
to comply with compulsory voting. Others say it’s a reason to abolish
compulsory voting. But surely our decision to vote should be democratic;
otherwise we will see our electoral sample continue to be tainted.

A selection bias is created when the
government forces us to attend the polls and this bias favours the very people
who happen to favour the bias. Go figure.

One way to remove this selection bias might
be for the government to select a random sample of voters, like in an opinion poll,
but with a larger sample. The trouble with this method is that it would not be
democratic because the decision to vote would have to be stolen away from the
people. It would mean that the government would choose who votes and who doesn’t.
Clearly the people should be free to make this choice for themselves. That’s
democracy.

In a democracy the people hold the supreme
power, not the government. We should all have the same free and equal
right to vote, free from government coercion. And it would be far better if our
leaders inspired us to vote rather than forcing us to attend the polling booth.

Only when the people are free to decide if they vote, will we have an accurate
electoral sample – a sample that is chosen by the people. After all, if we are capable of deciding
which party we will vote for, we are certainly capable of deciding if we vote.

The only reason people argue for compulsory
voting is to increase voter turnouts. Unfortunately the Australian people have
been lied to for many years about voter turnouts. The government boosts the
figures from 80% to 94% by counting invalid votes as votes and excluding the
10% of eligible voters who aren’t even on the electoral roll.

Our voter age population (VAP) turnouts are
lower than many countries where voting is voluntary, but Australians still think
we have the best voter turnouts in the world thanks to compulsory voting. We've been brainwahed into thinking our lack of freedom makes us more free.

And as our parties converge to attract the swinging voters, with no need to motivate their base, our system is centralised between communism and fascism at the totalitarian end of the political end of the spetrum. See more about Australia's slide towards totalitarianism.

Only nine other nations in the world
enforce compulsory voting and none are great bastions of democratic freedom, far
from it. We are headed in the same direction with threats to free speech,
freedom of association and other basic human rights, on which issues the Liberal's are mute. They can't afford to scare off the swining voters.

There is absolutely no reason to maintain
compulsory voting and every reason to give Australians back their freedom to vote.

Our decision to vote should be democratic.

Jason Kent

Free Our Right To Vote

Australia’s slide towards totalitarianism

Some people ignore or even crave an all-powerful government. They don’t seem to realize that the more centralized the power structure is, the less accountable the government is to the people.

It is said that voluntary voting causes the major political parties to
become polarized, while compulsory voting leads to centralization. 

One of the benefits of so-called polarization is that when the parties
are polarized it presents a clear
choice for the electorate. This makes it easier for the people to tell the
difference between the parties and make an informed decision. Also, when the
parties are polarized, the end result of their policy debate is balance, since
the average of the two poles falls at the centre.

However, a problem that is said to arise from polarization is that it makes it more difficult for the parties to
reach compromise and legislate. Unless one of the major parties has a
significant majority, it is difficult for the parties to pass legislation.

People who see this as a problem argue that it should be easier for the
government to pass legislation and bring about change. They see the
confrontational nature of partisan politics with its inherent conflict and
debate as an obstacle or obstruction to progress. They prefer it when all
parties agree and the government is free to rule. Some call this type of
cooperation as the ‘third way’, which to this writer sounds more like the
‘third reich’.

Some people ignore or even crave an all-powerful government. They don’t
seem to realize that the more centralized the power structure is, the less
accountable the government is to the people.

When people think of polarization they imagine the poles are communism
and fascism, but communism and fascism actually reside at one pole. The pole
where the people have no freedom and the government has ultimate power: totalitarianism.
The other pole is anarchy.

Compulsory voting sees a convergence of political thought but this
doesn’t occur at the centre, it occurs at one extreme. The convergence occurs
towards the totalitarian end of the spectrum, putting upwards pressure on the
size and power of government. Centralized political thought empowers government
and weakens the people.

In a centralized system where both major parties reside at a single
pole, dangerous ideologies thrive. They thrive under the mask of centrality or
neutrality. They thrive behind the veil of agreement or balance. They thrive
because the people are left in the dark, thinking that if both of the major
parties agree, then it must be right.
And besides, what choice do they have?

People have less choice when the parties are centralized because it is
harder for them to tell the difference. They must choose between the better of
two evils.

When the parties exist at different poles, the ruling class is divided.
They are in conflict and this conflict places more power in the hands of the
people.

The political parties should be in competition, not a duopoly. Not
centralized.

When the parties exist at a single pole, it steals our power away, whether
the centralization is a result of fascism, communism or a compulsory-voting-duopoly
such as ours.

Every day that goes by our government competes with the opposition to
legislate. It’s a race to see who can legislate the most. And if the Liberals
win it will be more of the same. Both parties crave power, even though they
have different methods of achieving it.

Under voluntary voting, leaders who cannot inform, inspire, motivate,
educate and ultimately empower the electorate using peaceful means, are
replaced by leaders who can – true democratic leaders.

Under voluntary voting leaders must empower the electorate, which means
they must promote freedom. They must sell freedom. They must defend and protect
freedom.

Voluntary voting will reverse our slide towards totalitarianism.

Jason Kent

Free Our Right To Vote

Australia says freedom is bad for democracy

Until the Australian government stops lying, Australia will continue to deceive the world into thinking that freedom is bad for democracy.

For many years the Australian Government has upheld the myth that Australia’s
voter turnouts are above 90%. As a result most people think our voter turnouts
are around 95%. This is the image the world sees and believes. 

Voter turnouts in Australia are not 95%. Not even close. Our voter
turnout is around 81%, and this figure includes a high proportion of invalid
votes, donkey votes and blind guesses, so our real voter turnouts are probably
a lot lower. They could be as low as 60%. Who knows?

Our government has fooled everybody into thinking we have one of
the world’s best democracies. But worse than this, they have fooled everybody
into thinking we have one of the world’s best democracies thanks to our lack of
freedom.

We are one of only ten nations in the world to enforce compulsory
voting and many of the other nations are not long out of military dictatorship.
These countries are also typified by tight media regulations. Compulsory voting
combined with a state-controlled media gives the government complete control
while still ‘appearing’ democratic.

Derryn Hinch is currently the latest to fight for democracy in
Australia. He says I believe
compulsory voting is bad on two grounds. I believe it is undemocratic even
unconstitutional.” Read more here.

Democracy is supposed to provide freedom. Compulsory voting does
the complete opposite. It strips people’s power away, right when they need it the
most. Rather than empowering people with the vote, compulsory voting diminishes
people’s power with threats of fines and ultimately threats of violence.

Compulsory voting repels people from the electoral process. This
is partly why we have such high levels of informal voting and why around 10% of
eligible Australian voters are not even registered to vote.

If compulsory voting were so great, why are Australian’s so
disengaged with politics? Why do they say we even need compulsory voting? After
100 years of forced freedom, compulsory voting has clearly failed.

Even at the inflated 81%, our voter turnouts are still lower than
many nations where voting is voluntary including Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and
Malta.

Under voluntary voting politicians who cannot educate, inspire and
ultimately empower the electorate using peaceful means, are replaced by leaders
who can – true democratic leaders.

Voting is not done as a duty to the state but as a voluntary act
of free will. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. When we are free to
vote, we have 100% voter participation. Everyone has the same free equal right
to vote. Everyone is included.

Australians don’t like compulsory voting. Not really. Australians
like to see evidence of high voter participation and they think high voter
turnouts indicate this. The government has deceived the Australian people for
far too long.

Until the Australian government stops lying, Australia will
continue to deceive the world into thinking that freedom is bad for democracy.

Jason Kent

Free Our Right To Vote

Central planning is killing the Australian spirit

Unfortunately in Australia we live in a nation where freedom seems to be misunderstood and central planning is rife. So why do Australians seem to have forgotten the evils of central planning?

If history has taught us anything it’s that freedom is a good thing. Communism, socialism, and fascism all failed. They failed because people like freedom and societies work better when people are free.

Unfortunately in Australia we live in a nation where freedom seems to be misunderstood and central planning is rife. So why do Australians seem to have forgotten the evils of central planning?

Well, maybe we’ve been brainwashed. Maybe the government’s central planning has worked to control our actions and even our thoughts.

One example of Australia’s horrendous central planning is the government’s proposed National Cultural Policy. It’s central planning gone berserk. There’s no reason or justification for our culture to be centrally planned. A nation’s culture is a reflection of the people, all people, not only the elite ruling class.

Why should the government produce our films, handpick our artists, or dictate cultural doctrine taught in schools? Why is the Australian culture being dictated from above and why do people stand for it?

Of course one reason is clear: money – cash grants to the elite artists, filmmakers, educators and bureaucrats. Our government spends around two billion dollars annually on the arts, not including education spending. And two billion dollars buys a lot of votes. Why not just give tax breaks? Of course tax breaks would mean the government would lose control. Of our minds?

And what about the true artists, the independent artists who don’t fit within the government’s artistic or cultural blueprint? Of course, they’re left in the cold, with an almost impossible task of competing with the state.

Centrally planned cultural doctrine is suffocating the Australian spirit, killing individuality and crushing innovation. This is the price we pay for not defending our freedom and not even understanding it. This is the price of state oppression.

Freedom empowers the individual rather than the state. Freedom respects individual thought rather than groupthink. Freedom liberates our innate human desire to communicate and connect.

Australian politicians don’t talk much about freedom and it certainly doesn’t rate very highly in the government’s cultural doctrine. Even though freedom is supposed to be fundamental to our western way of life. Not here. Not in Australia.

In Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott’s maiden speeches to parliament they didn’t even mention the words “free” “liberty” or “democracy” once. Not once. Yet in Barack Obama’s maiden speech to the Australian parliament he used these three simple words a total of 29 times. Words have meaning and he used his to promote freedom. Maybe he thought we needed a lesson or maybe he had another reason.

One reason a polarized left wing politician from the U.S. needs to promote freedom is simple: democracy. In a democracy or a place where people are free to vote (or not vote) leaders must empower the electorate because if they don’t, people will simply switch off and not vote. The logic being – why vote if you’re not free? Or why vote if you don’t think you have any real power?

Barack Obama knows this, which is partly why he sells freedom. Can you imagine our red PM selling freedom? It would be very hard for her to sell the world’s biggest carbon tax, nationalized internet and draconian media controls, and freedom at the same time.

In a true democracy where voting is purely democratic, i.e. with no government coercion of voters whatsoever, leaders who can not motivate, inform, inspire, educate and ultimately empower the electorate are replaced by leaders who can: true democratic leaders.

In Australia this doesn’t occur. In Australia, leaders don’t need to motivate or inspire anyone. They don’t need to lead. They certainly don’t need to promote freedom. All they need to do is keep their heads down and be slightly better than the other guys. They need to win the votes of the swinging voters at the centre because the swing-votes are the only votes that matter. Under compulsory voting political parties don’t need to motivate the base.

This creates a very dangerous situation.

Communism or fascism evolve when political opinion is centralized or when a distinct majority of people unite under a single authoritarian rule. At least, that’s how it starts. We’ve seen where it ends. Remember what Martin Luther King Junior said, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

A democratic system works when multiple political opinions represent different ideas or distinctly different opinions along a spectrum. In some ways the major political parties represent poles, which pull in opposite directions and result in balance.

Our system is not balanced. It teeters around a central point—vulnerable to slip in either direction. Our system is like two people trying to balance a plank of wood above their heads and both heading to the centre rather than standing at opposite ends.

And all the while the poor souls standing about trying to direct those two people, can’t even tell the difference. They can’t tell which side needs more support. They can’t tell if our system needs more or less government. And the result is always more government because the guys holding the plank have complete control. Government wins and the people lose.

Our system is centralized to the extent that partisan politics, strong political ideals or rigorous debate is shunned as being extremist or even dangerous.

Groupthink grips Australia. Groupthink that imagines government is the answer to all our problems. Groupthink that says central planning can save us and protect us from the slippery slope of partisan politics. The slippery slope of democracy!

If our parties must be united, if they must stand together as one to defend and promote anything, then let it be freedom.

Jason Kent

Free Our Right To Vote

 

No judgment in Anders Holmdahl’s compulsory voting Supreme Court challenge

The thrust of Anders’ case, as described by Justice Gray, is “the right to vote is a constitutionally protected right that may be exercised or not exercised and that the obligation to vote arising from section 245(15) [of the Commonwealth Electoral Act] infringes that right.” On this point Justice Gray ruled to refer the matter to the Full Court.

The case will now pass to the Full Court in the June sittings, where 3 – 5 judges will hear arguments from Anders and the Australian Electoral Commission.

In the past, other challenges to compulsory voting have been thrown out of court, so the progress of this case represents a victory for pro-freedom advocates.

Anders says, "I’m pleased to inform you that the matter has been referred for hearing and determination by the Full Court in The Supreme Court of South Australia. … It is a further step towards democracy and a blow to the prosecutors judging by their reaction when the decision was read."

If the next stage of the defense is unsuccessful, Anders intends to appeal. He says he will take it “all the way” and he says he is “prepared to spend a couple of days in jail if that’s what it takes”.

This writer finds it absolutely abhorrent that an Australian citizen needs to contemplate jail time in defense of the basic democratic freedom to vote. This type of injustice could only occur in some ten countries in the world, because only ten countries enforce compulsory voting, including Australia.

Anders is defending his perfectly legitimate right to not vote. He has done absolutely nothing wrong and he has expressed a completely valid and legitimate political opinion.

As Anders points out, “there is no law that specifically states we must attend the polling booth.” Clearly the compulsory voting laws relate to voting, not attendance. They unfairly affect our most fundamental democratic freedom.

If the Constitution of Australia has any purpose at all, it must protect our right to vote. The government’s oppressive threats of fines and jail terms for non-compliance pollute the free will of the individual and distort the electoral sample.

Many countries with voluntary voting have higher voter turnouts than we do, including Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Malta. New Zealand also has similar voter turnouts to Australia’s 81%. Yet our number includes a high proportion of donkey votes, informal votes and blind guesses. Over 10% of eligible Australian voters are not even registered to vote.

In most other democracies people only vote because they want to vote. They vote because they are informed and engaged with the process. Clearly, everybody should have the same free choice to vote—free from government coercion. When this is the case, the electoral sample is almost perfect.

Under voluntary voting leaders who cannot educate, inform, motivate, inspire and ultimately empower the electorate will be replaced by leaders who can – true democratic leaders. Voluntary voting holds leaders to a higher standard. It also obligates leaders to promote democracy and freedom in order to gain votes. This is the type of education Australia needs.

Through Anders Holmdahl’s defense of freedom, let’s hope that more Australians come to value freedom, and in the end our freedom is finally restored.

Jason Kent Free Our Right To Vote

Compulsory voting: undemocratic infringement of free will, says Anders Holmdahl

The current electoral laws are illogical, confusing and represent an undemocratic infringement of free will.

Following the intense debate that my legal challenge to compulsory voting has created, I wish to stress that I’m not challenging our right to vote and firmly believe all citizens should vote. In a democracy the government is “chosen by the people”. However, nothing indicates, or even suggests, compulsion.

The word ‘vote’ means the exercise of free will; that is, an unforced choice. The Australian Constitution gives the electors the right to make his or her choice fully, unforced and freely and the parliament clearly intended that each and every elector must have freedom of choice by ensuring that voting is secret. Therefore compulsory voting is a law which cannot be enforced. If you leave the ballot paper blank or deliberately incorrectly marked you cannot be convicted of any offence.

Section 245(15) in the 1918 Commonwealth Electoral Act states: “It is the duty of every elector to vote by filling in a ballot paper in a manner described in section 240”. To define voting as a duty involves a fundamental misconception of the word “vote”. In exercising free will you cannot be forced to mark the ballot paper in such a way as to indicate a preference for any particular candidate. A right is something you are privileged to be granted; a duty is something you are required to do. Therefore, the two are contradictory.

There is no specifically defined offence for failing to attend a polling booth. No offence can be committed unless it can be related to a specific legislation. So why are we being fined?

In the latest Federal election 6.78% of electors did not turn up at a polling station and 5.55% deposited an informal vote. The result is identical but those not turning up at a polling station will be pursued, fined or prosecuted.

The main argument raised against eradicating compulsory voting seems to be that the turnout will fall. Although this may be the case, shouldn’t governments in a democracy be elected by the people wishing to vote and not by the number of people turning up?

The current electoral laws are illogical, confusing and represent an undemocratic infringement of free will. The electoral provisions seem not to require a person to make a choice. All they require is an attendance at the polling station without any need to mark the ballot paper at all. By all definitions, this doesn’t constitute voting but you avoid getting fined. It’s time Australian voters, like in the vast majority of the world’s democracies, are treated as adults.

Anders Holmdahl

Posted by Free Our Right To Vote