Calling on citizens to vote carefully

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In the lead up to the ACT Election, the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) is calling on voters to choose their candidates carefully. This is a sponsored post. 

IN the lead up to the October 17 ACT Election, the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) is calling on voters to choose their candidates carefully. 

“Think about the candidates, not just their political parties,” says CAPaD secretary Peter Tait.

Practising GP, Peter says CAPaD, an association empowering citizens to engage in politics, grew out of a series of “kitchen table conversations” held by SEE-Change in 2014, where there was a common theme that the government wasn’t delivering what people wanted. 

“We formed an organisation to do something,” says Peter. 

Now, Peter says CAPaD is urging Canberrans to ask: “Out of the candidates you will vote for, think about how they are going to represent you? Are they up for the job? How will they involve people in their decision and policy-making?”  

To help people make informed decisions when voting, the CAPaD invites candidates to submit their responses to a number of questions about their skills, expertise and how they intend to build community involvement when setting agenda, participating in processes and the formation of policy. These are put up on the CAPaD website.

Peter says this helps voters gain a better sense of what personal attributes candidates bring to the role of MLA and how they would develop a strong working relationship between themselves and their constituents, should they be elected. 

For candidates, Peter says analysis from the CAPaD website has shown that candidates who put in statements glean more votes than those who don’t.

Statements by votes all candidates.

“Of our current 25 MLAs, 15 of them filled in candidate statements before the 2016 election,” he says.

For voters, Peter says it’s important to get the right people in government. “We believe that government in Canberra will be strengthened if we elect MLAs who will work with constituents in developing and implementing policy and we are more likely to get a city we want to live in,” he says. 

CAPaD’s role also includes working with community groups to grow their capacity and engagement in the political process, working with academics at UC on deliberative democracy and shining a light on the role, relationships and responsibilities of members of the ACT Legislative Assembly. 

“We invite everybody to become active citizens,” says Peter, who is passionate about increasing the level of participation Canberrans have in creating a better, more liveable Canberra. 

“Research from the UC is that people don’t like the way that politics is played. They want it to be played for the benefit of the community and environment, not the top end of town,” Peter says. 

“On a Canberra-level it’s about planning and development. That’s a big bug-bear and people are annoyed. 

“Without involvement in the political system, people become resentful, angry and cynical. The problem with cynicism is that you opt out of the system and you can’t change it.

“[But] you can choose where you place your vote and vote wisely.”

Visit canberra-alliance.org.au

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