One of my professors is visiting from Australia and he remarked how odd it was that Americans were in such an uproar over the government begging everyone to answer the questions on race on this year's census. He said that that kind of thing was simply required on Australia and if you didn't do it you would go to jail (I'm guessing he was joking about that).
I don't know about jail, but your prof wasn't entirely joking. Failure to complete a census is an offense - IIRC, a finable one. Same goes for voting - you must (at a minimum) have your name ticked off on the electoral roll on election day, or face fines or imprisonment.
Kind of made me wonder about Australia's privacy issues, as does this Crimenet thing.
It's worth remembering that although Australia and the US share a common British ancestry, the US was formed by colonists who were equal parts puritans and libertarians. Consequently, throughout the entire US legal system, there is a strong sense of God, and a strong sense of liberty and freedom. You have a bill of rights, a strong ideas based constitution, and had a war to make sure the British butted out.
Australia, on the other hand, was a penal colony, whose legal system was (until 1983) completely indistinguishable from the British system (i.e., until 1983, you could appeal a decision of the High Court of Australia in the British High Court, or to the Law Lords at Westminster). There is no bill of rights, the constitution is purely a functional one (how many states, style of governement, etc), and Australia has never had a war with anyone over our national ideals.
These privacy issues stem from a much longer heritage than the policy of the current government. Australian government is drawn from a monarchistic background, and operates on that basis; it's strongly authoritarian - reserving the right to tell you what to do and when, and the right to find out about you whatever it wants to find out. The government grants the citizen specific freedoms, rather than accepting that it is 'self evident' that a citizen is born `having certain unalienable rights`.
Trying to get the government to give up authoritarian control is a difficult task, especially so without the benefit of an emotional event to bind the people. Australia has not yet had it's Boston Tea Party. Consequently, Joe Aussie Sixpack couldn't care that his rights are not explicitly stated or protected - why should he care? He's never been threatened, and he can't think of how he could be threatened.
... and never, ever play leapfrog with a unicorn.
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