“IT’S A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO VOTE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 29, 2020) — Last week, Australian educator and author Cheryl Lacey sent us a link to what will be the first in a series of educational videos designed to inform their fellow citizens of their rights and responsibilities in their nation’s democracy. We then conducted an email interview with Lacey and her colleague, Sam Muscat, who appear in the video, which runs just under eight minutes.
“For Australia to be a true democracy, you’re the solution, reads the introduction to the video on YouTube. “All it takes is a letter from you to your local member. If every Australian is properly educated on our democracy, our rights and our duty, our way of life won’t be left to chance.”
“Many Australians don’t realize that it’s a great privilege to vote, and it’s the first step to being a responsible citizen,” Muscat states at 0:30.
The video provides a brief history of the Australian constitution and its “principles that are worthy of celebration and our gratitude. It’s these principles that make Australia a true democracy.”
“Without democracy, government has total control over your life, the life of your children, and your entire family,” Lacey states at 2:18.
The following are the questions we sent to the duo, followed by their responses:
1. What was the biggest motivator for each of you in creating the new video series on Australia’s democracy? Do you both come from an education background?
Cheryl comes from an education background. Sam is a workplace trainer.
Sam: The frustration of my friends and family not understanding the importance of their vote.
Cheryl: For everyone to know that they have a voice and can be an active participant in our democracy. The need for our schools to teach our democracy and the history of Western Civilisation with accuracy.
2. When you invoked the term, “Work for the Dole,” does that mean being supported by public-assistance programs? I have learned that sometimes terms in the United States mean something a little bit different in Australia, although we have an expression here, “being on the dole,” which means just that. Our expression, however, is not a specific program, but generally means government “handouts.”
Work for Dole was an initiative introduced by the Conservative Government that was rejected by the left. It was intended to replace our existing social welfare payment for people who choose not to work. Its slang is ‘the dole’. Its formal name is Unemployment Benefits. Unlike the USA, Australia’s unemployment benefits can span for generations in a family unit, and in many cases it has. Some Australians see this as entitlement in lieu of having to work and pay taxes.
3. In your country, does “defending your family” signify firearms ownership? I think not, as I believe personal firearms are not permitted there. However, as you mentioned, there are so many laws that perhaps they are different in each province or even locality. If it does not refer to firearms, what does that phrase mean to you?
Australians have the right to ownership of firearms, however, in Australia’s Constitution it is not stated that we have the right to bear arms as is the case in the US 2nd amendment. Our message about defending and protecting family relates to preserving and honouring the values our Constitution was founded on – fairness, equality and responsible freedom.
4. Will or does “The Education Project” reach out to Australian schools to educate students on the points made in your video? In your view, is there a reason why civics is not taught in the schools?
Yes. This is our goal. In our strongest opinion, the teaching of Civics and Citizenship is being misrepresented in our schools and is distorting what our Constitution really means – our freedom. The left has been using this as a vehicle to undermine the real value of our Constitution. This bias in our Australian Curriculum is influenced by the power of the left within the union movement and the left leaning political parties.
5. At 5:22, you state, “If elected members of a political party cannot speak freely or vote freely on issues that affect them and you…” In your view, what is preventing them from being able to do so?
In our view, it is about the individual wanting to be elected and the only way is via a political party. By toeing the party line, they have longevity and security, which takes precedence over speaking freely and representation of their constituents. We firmly believe this occurs because of the misunderstanding of our Constitution.
6. How often do you plan to release subsequent videos in the series?
We aim to produce a video every week, however, our bigger aim is to ensure our message is clear and that we seek feedback to achieve this end. Our ultimate goal is a documentary on our Constitution and the Australian way of life.
7. From your involvement in the AAA, what would you say are three commonalities between the U.S. and Australia?
The right to free speech, the freedom to pursue your goals and ambitions and the underlying patriotism that maintains our overall freedom.