[LINK] Internet referendum for deciding Sydney project funding

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Wed Oct 14 09:08:11 AEDT 2009

Verity Firth MP, Member for Balmain and NSW Minister for Education and
Training is conducting a referendum to decide which of 26 community
projects in her inner Sydney electorate to spend $300,000 of state
government funding on. Residents can vote via the Internet:

This is an interesting experiment in direct democracy (discussed at
Public Sphere 2 and the Government 2.0 Taskforce), but there are a few 
problems with it.

A letter sent to residents from the MP (October 2009) says that
residents without Internet access can request a paper voting sheet.
However, that information is not on the web site (some residents may
have Internet access, but not want to use it to vote).

Also it is not clear why criteria different to state elections have
been used for selecting voters. As a result some citizens who are 
eligible to vote in state elections in Balmain may have been 
disenfranchised in this referendum.The "register to vote" instructions
state that the voter must "... live within the boundaries of the Balmain
electorate ...": <http://communitypartnerships.verityfirth.com/register>.

In addition the referendum details are on a commercially registered web
site ("verityfirth.com.au" registered to "ServEssence Pty. Ltd."). Given
that NSW has a history of corrupt practices involving the administration
of funds at the local level, it would be prudent for this process to be
conducted by the NSW or Australian Electoral Commission and all details
to be on a ".gov.au" web site.

More on my blog at:

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

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