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Having been in the political arena now for well over a decade, it is very disheartening that so many voters have very little knowledge of how elections work.

There are 2 houses of parliament, in the state we have the lower and upper houses, or the House of Assembly and the legislative council (in the federal parliament the upper house is called the senate).

The lower house is the one that forms government the upper house is known as the checks and balances, the lower house propose new laws and changes to law, then the upper house scrutinise these proposals before they are passed and become law.

It is here that many voters do not use their votes wisely at times, because if the upper house in controlled by the government of the day, there will be no scrutiny, the legislative council then becomes a rubber stamp to any government proposals.

I am a candidate for the upper house, voting for me will not affect who forms government, my job will be to scrutinise what the government does, and propose changes.

As an upper house candidate, anyone in South Australia can vote for me, where as in the lower house, each electorate will have different candidates.

So voters can vote differently in both houses, for instance sake one can vote say Labor in the house of assembly, then vote for me in the legislative council, they then may get the government they want, and have me there to ensure legislation is in line with community expectations.

Having read and studied legislation for many years, it is not always the title of the legislation that is a problem, more so there are at times sections that I feel undermine our implied rights, I will provide an example.

Electoral law is written to protect your franchise, your right to vote, yet the government can make amendment’s and do so every few years, the trouble here is that the government have the most to gain from structural biases.

Over the past 20 years, changes to electoral law, I believe have been all about empowering the 2 party political systems, where as any changes made, should be about empowering you the voter.

Just recently changes were made to make it harder and more expensive for the minor players to nominate, changes just before the 2010 state election were passed to make it hard to comment on line about politics in general, i.e.; all posts were to include your home address and real names

This is where I believe Independent and minor party voices are needed to scrutinise any proposed changes, to ensure legislative change is in line with community expectations.

Metering of farmers dams, entry to our homes without warrants, guessing your voting intention beyond what you mark on the ballot paper are also examples of sections of written Acts that deserve both scrutiny and public debate.

So before you vote, it is best you realise the power your vote has, it is the only input you have regarding the direction of your country, and who represents your best interests in parliament.

I say wield that power wisely, take the time to become informed both on how to cast your vote and who the candidates are and what they stand for.

Go online and check you are enrolled today, even if you believe your still are, as our electoral rolls in 2010 were missing over 77,000 names, and while you are there, invest the time that is needed to ensure your vote is the most educated one possible.

Mark Aldridge

Independent candidate for the Legislative Council

08 82847482 / 0403379500

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