LawFuel – The Legal Newswire – The Ages reports that even as the High Court yesterday struck down the Federal Government’s latest attempt to disenfranchise part of its citizenry, the right to vote is far from an axiomatic feature of Australian democracy.
The High Court’s order in Vickie Lee Roach v Electoral Commissioner and Commonwealth of Australia prevents the Commonwealth from universally disenfranchising all prisoners on election day. But all that does is return matters to where they were, with categories of prisoners still unable to vote and no firm guarantees that voting rights on the part of all citizens cannot be abridged.
This is because there is no clear statement in the constitution about Australian citizens’ right to vote. Indeed, there is nothing in the Australian Constitution about Australian citizenship, let alone rights that flow from citizenship.
No doubt the High Court’s reasons will shed important light on the jurisprudence of voting (we only have the order at this stage, not the reasoning) but there is next to nothing in the Constitution the Court can fix upon to make citizens rest easier in their bed of Australian democracy.
Citizenship, the right to vote, the right to return and live in one’s country, all, one who have thought , the very rudiments of democratic governance stand on very thin constitutional ground in Australia.