Wednesday 14 October 2009
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I have some information that I wanted to present to the House on the results of the election, my Rosevears election.  I wanted to go to some figures in making a point about the number of people who do not vote in elections.  I remember in my election of May 2008 I was looking to the percentages that would actually vote for me because there was a contentious issue and I wanted to see a reflection in the vote as to the per cent that I got of the total people eligible to vote. 

Mr Wing - There was also the pulp mill.

Mr FINCH - As well.  There were enrolled in the electorate 22 402 which is approximately what we all have in our electorates.  The formal vote was 17 879, the informal vote was 881, so there were in fact about 4 642 who did not vote in the election.  Do they all get a notice, does everybody who does not vote get a notice or is it chosen at random that these people will get a notice about the fact that they did not vote?

Mr Dean - I got a notice.

Mr FINCH - Did you?  So probably the point that the member for Launceston was making, people do forget, people overlook it.  I just cannot believe that there would be 4 642 in my electorate who would forget to vote, there may be some, so I think there might be serial offenders here who have  chosen not to join in the system but it might go to what the member for Launceston was saying that in a democratic system people should have the right to vote if they want to and abstain if they do not want to join in the vote.  It did disappoint me at the time because at that stage I had approximately 73 per cent of the vote and had everybody voted in the election, I would have been closer to 80 per cent of the vote which would have been a better reflection of where I wanted the percentages to be.

Mr Harriss - They might not have voted for you.

Mr FINCH - That is not to say I am not happy.

Mr Parkinson - How could the percentage of the vote have varied?

Mr FINCH - Had it continued in the voting, with me getting 73 per cent of the vote up to that stage, had the next 5 000 approximately been counted, the weight would have been towards me so it would have gone more to 77 per cent.

Mr Parkinson - Provided they all voted for you.

Mr FINCH - Provided the vote continue in that vein of 73 per cent to me.

Mr Harriss - Were you not happy with 72?

Mr FINCH - No, I am just saying that I am happy with 73 per cent of the vote.

Mr Wing - So you are ruling out entirely the possibility of all those who could have stayed away because they were not prepared to come along and vote for you?

Mr FINCH - I would like to get their addresses, I want to write to them ready for the next election.  However, I make that point that either it is that people are compelled to vote and are reminded, because I think what we have to remember here - and I have commended the Electoral Commission in the past - I think when we were discussing the change of boundaries last time when I wanted a part of the West Tamar municipality included in my electorate of Rosevears, I did commend the Electoral Commission at that time on the work that they do in respect of letting the people know that they have to vote.  I do not think that there is anything more that the Electoral Commission can do.  You might actually get the letter and put it in people's hands.   That would be the only next best thing that you could do because you really leave no stone unturned in communicating that message -

Mr Wing - Including advertising on milk cartons.

Mr FINCH - Through the media, through all television and newspapers -

Ms Forrest - SMS messages.

Mr FINCH - Yes.  At every election I am amazed at the lengths to which the Electoral Commission go to make sure that people are aware that the elections are on.  The work that is done is commendable.  I do appreciate that very much and I would put that on record again that I think that the work is of the highest order.  There is no excuse, it could be that people may have a bereavement in the family or something occurs on the day, an issue with children in hospital or something like that, but I think that it would be minuscule in comparison to what I have noticed in my electorate of people who did not vote, but there would not be that many occurrences that would impact on 4 642 people not voting.

Mr Hall - You want their weighted vote to go your way.

Mr FINCH - No, I am hoping that people realise, remember my inaugural speech and it was about this opportunity that we have to vote in a democracy and how we take it for granted.  Yet people give their lives.  We have only got to look at East Timor and what people sacrifice there to have the opportunity for a democratic vote.  People in Africa give their lives for it.  We are just so blasé, 'I don't think I'll vote'.  'I cannot be bothered'.  'I'm going to sleep in'.  Madam President, yes, I am performing for the cameras a little bit of theatre.

Mr Wing - That one there is the one working.

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - That was part of my inaugural speech, that I felt so strongly about the fact that I was able to campaign in safety without any fear of injury or for my life, that I could walk the streets, knock on people's doors and present myself in a democracy, and just at that time there were some issues in a country in Africa, and I am not sure if it was Zambia, but there was bloodshed and people would not have been able to go out onto the streets to campaign.

Ms Forrest - So many of them.

Mr FINCH - So many of them.  As I say, in our democracy in Australia we take it for granted and I think we must continue that educative process of letting people know how important that vote is and how powerful that vote can be.