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To: Federal Government

Voting Rights for Permanent Residents

Australia calls itself a democracy, and yet it denies millions of us the right to vote.

Permanent Residents have invested time, effort and money into making this country our home. We contribute in so many ways - and we deserve our voices to be heard.

Living here in any capacity is a privilege for white people like me. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I work and live - the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I pay tribute to their Elders, past, present and emerging, recognising their continuing connection to land and country. This land was never ceded.

Why is this important?

Imagine living, working, and otherwise contributing to a community where you have no power. Imagine feeling like your voice is never heard in your own home. Imagine being denied the right to vote… in 2022.

That is the reality of being a permanent resident in so-called Australia, in this so-called democracy.

Estimates suggest that there are 2 million Permanent Residents in Australia*. That's a hefty percentage of our population! For many, getting to this point has been a battle hard-fought. Tears, sacrifices and a significant financial impact are all worth it for many of us, for that sense of security (a sense denied to many of us who were still on temporary visas through the pandemic).

Many of us have jobs, and pay taxes. Taxes we don’t get any say in how they are spent. We work in health, education, government, for non-profits - just like Australians. Some of us work those jobs no Australians will do, perhaps on the farms. Some of us volunteer, or get involved with our local community in other ways. We may be students, bettering ourselves for the sake of this country. Others still raise Australian children, our future generation. Some do it all, while some are just figuring it out right now. But even those who do “nothing” contribute to our economy, and more importantly, our society.

No matter the level of these contributions, we should all count. Politics literally touch every tiny bit of our lives, every day. The rights we have at work, the protections we have as women, children, or people living with a disability, as well as our ability to access the healthcare and welfare systems. The list goes on.

So, why don’t we just become citizens? It is not that easy. Not only is it a time-consuming process, you have to meet a lot of extra requirements. Plus - you guessed it - you have to pay more money (the costs just doubled last year). The wait lists are also pretty ridiculous… and the applications are not processed in order, despite claims to the contrary. Finally, many countries don’t even allow you to have dual citizenship!

We are not asking for special treatment. I cannot possibly speak for everybody, but most of us are so grateful to be here. On a personal level, I believe the right to vote is so important. Women died for the right. In all patriarchal and/or white supremacist and/or classist societies, denying a marginalised group the right to vote has always been commonplace. Disgracefully, First Nations people were only given such a right (on stolen land) in 1962. This seems unthinkable now.

While I cannot begin to imagine such oppression, surely this is shocking as well? The etymology of the word "democracy" roughly means "the will of the people". ALL people.

Did you know? Other countries allow all residents to vote, providing they have shown at least some commitment. The commitment we have shown, I promise you, goes above and beyond.

I have been here for almost 6 years, dedicating myself to this country and its people. I am far from the only one. I will pursue this campaign even after I proudly accept my citizenship, hopefully later this year. I love my Australian partner, my Australian friends, all of my opportunities. Chances are, you know someone like me - maybe you were someone like me - please let us be heard!

Personally, I think we should allow anyone living here long-term the right (including prisoners), but let’s start with PR.

This is our home, our FOREVER home, and we care about it - so we want the chance to make it better.

*It is strangely difficult to find the exact numbers of Permanent Residents living in Australia. For the year ending 30 June 2020, there were over 7.6 million migrants living in Australia. 29.8% of Australia's population were born overseas. According to the most recent data from 2016, only 82% of respondents were citizens on Census night. In my city, Sydney, that figure dropped to 64%. Allowing for many temporary visa holders and even tourists, this still leaves a large amount of Permanent Residents unaccounted for. (Please note, 2021 data has not yet been published)

How it will be delivered

I'm probably going to send this through my my local MP, Jenny Leong, first. I am hoping to get advice on how to pass it to Federal Government. Please revisit for ideas at a later date (or you can contact me!)


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2022-02-10 01:19:08 +1100

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