NewVote and me - by Hamish Pratt
I’m a farmer from South Australia. I’m passionate about sustainable farming practises and food security. Like many Australians and citizens around the world I’m passionate about the future of our planet and its climate and the environment too. I’m also passionate about how our society supports and cares for our most vulnerable. But most of all I’m passionate about democracy. About everyone having their say. About everyone having a voice, and having that voice heard and considered.
That’s where NewVote comes in. This is my story…
Newvote began - for me - some five and a half years ago. It was early September (2013) and the Federal election was being held essentially between Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd, who was having his second crack at heading up the Labor Party (post Julia Gillard).
I remember we were shearing sheep the following Monday. There were 1000 or so Merinos and I had to muster and have them yarded and shedded up - ready to go. The closest polling booth was a good half an hour from where I was. Out there, that isn’t much of a distance, but I hardly had a spare hour or two to vote.
But it wasn’t the time to spare that concerned me the most. It was my vote. My precious, democratic-rite, lucky-to-live-in-a-country-where-you-are-able-to-vote, vote.
I didn’t know what to do with it.
Here was my quandary:
I sympathised with policies on both sides of the major parties as well as one or two of the minors. But the information I had been able to glean on these issues had been questionable in its authenticity. I liked candidates from at least three parties up for election - but would they hold their position once they were elected? On the policies that mattered to me the most I sided with one party more than any other but would they stay true to their word? Or would they break their ‘promise’?
There wasn’t a lot to like about this election and when I spoke to my ‘Gen Y’ niece on the drive to the polling booth to get her take on things she said to me something I that really struck me.
“I don’t care - it doesn’t make any difference anyway”.
It was then I realised for certain there were problems with our political system and the democratic process in our country in general.
Over the next year or so, after Tony Abbott and the coalition formed the 44th parliament, I did a lot of thinking about what had occurred to me that day.
Something had to be done!
Oh, and the sheep got shorn too.
I met Dion McCurdy soon after I began formulating a plan to turn this vision into a reality. And, together with long time friend (and co-founder) Helen Stump, we met to discuss how a digital platform for the voting public might look. It turned out Dion had not only been imagining something similar, but had been working away for some years on various floor plans of what is now ‘NewVote’.
NewVote has come a long way since then and we hope it has a long way to go.
I’m very proud to be part of NewVote and I’m very passionate about what positive, powerful and inclusive impact I believe NewVote can have on democracy. NewVote’s purpose first and foremost was and still is to give people a voice. Now, perhaps more than ever before, that is vital.