No taxation without representation

| March 27, 2022

“No taxation without representation,” the phrase coined by James Otis around 1761, paved the way to the American War of Independence. It was not an unreasonable proposition to expect that if you are to be taxed by a government, then you should have the right to be represented within that government.

That requirement is generally satisfied today by having a right to vote for a representative who you feel may best represent your interests in the government of the day.

Yet today thousands of Australians are taxed with no representation and are simply denied a right to vote. Local governments and shire councils primarily exist to provide key services to landowners and the ratepayers. Ratepayers pay for utilities provided, such as water and sewage, and are taxed at a general rate, usually based on an amount calculated on the unimproved land valuation of the ratepayers property.

This is all well and good, as the “user pays” is a fair concept, but all ratepayers should have the right to cast a vote for a local government representative in their shire or council area.

People residing in a local council area of voting age, but who are not landowners, and are not directly taxed, must cast a mandatory ballot in this country. However absentee landowners and ratepayers are denied the right to vote. Being absent does not abrogate your requirement to pay the taxation determined and levied.

Owners of an investment property, and ratepayers who hold a personal stake in the actions of a local council, and taxed are by that shire council, should have the reasonable opportunity to cast a vote for a representative of their choosing.

There is a need for wider electoral reform, but it starts with local government elections.