On the face of it, it seems a brilliant idea. All these people who daily use the City, but have no say in how it is governed. However, there are a few problems, none of which I think are insurmountable, but, which, taken together, could make a good case against the proposal.
Firstly, there are 108,000 of them. While they may have a legitimate right to have their voices heard, this completely swamps the 22,000 residential and business voters whose views are, arguably, far more important. One solution is to discount workers' votes, perhaps to 50%, or rely on low voter turnout to absorb the difference. People complain that the City is held hostage to small-minded residents, but wouldn't residents being held hostage to big business be just as bad?
Secondly, since they do not pay rates, it is questionable that they really do have the right to have their voices heard. "No taxation without representation" might work equally well in the opposite direction: "No representation without taxation".
Thirdly, this opens a whole other can of worms: does a .4 teacher at a City school deserve as much say as the full-time waiter in a wine bar on O'Connell St? And a personal hobby horse of mine: should students be allowed the vote? They are in the City as much and more than some workers, shouldn't their views also be heard?
Taken together, these present a compelling case against allowing City workers the vote. And I may appear in the Advertiser tomorrow with a contradictory view, and this is a lesson we should all learn: learn as much about the subject as you can before you form an opinion.
For example, upon reflection I have come to see that compulsory voting in local elections would introduce party politics, whereas I believe local politics, more than any other, is a good breeding ground for personalities and single-issue campaigners.
It's all part of my learning curve. Bare with me as I head towards Oct 2010!