Not Worth the Vote?
James WF Roberts
So the 2010 Federal Election is done and dusted and we have a new parliament, a new Prime Minister and a new list of policies both foreign and domestic that are sure to set the cat amongst the pigeons as new policies and agendas often do…oh wait…opps! Oh that’s right, only in the land of make believe do we actually get what we want, or rather need.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist the sarcasm at the beginning of this, because I do feel quite strongly that sarcasm was needed. Okay I am sitting here, hands poised above the keys, rubbing my hands with pure glee, like an executioner sharpening his axe before the main event, and yet, I feel rather…rather ‘meh’.
So is a hung parliament really the great thing for our democracy, that everyone has been saying it is. I am not sure that it is such a great thing for our democracy, and I am not really that concerned, at the moment about how bad it was only something like 75% of citizens eligible to vote, voted…if you do the math, only fourteen million people voted, don’t we have a population of 22 million now? We can’t have that many teenagers, children and infants in a dramatically aging population, can we?
If we look at our rich and vibrant recent history, the one thing that I have noticed is that our politicians, our Prime Ministers in fact actually echoed our society at large, for the time they are the prime minister. I know that it’s a pretty obvious argument, but think about. Gough Whitlam had an impressive (perhaps foolish) array of reforms, new directions, compassion and inspiring policies, if we look at our country then, we have the full blown rise of student activism, feminism had become not just a fad, but a public policy, anti-war and anti-Vietnam movements, our hippie culture etc. etc.
Where Frazer was more of the realist, yet still a very left wing Liberal Prime Minister. (One of the strangest things in this country is that our right wing party, the Liberal would actually be a central-leftist party in most other parts of the world. The Democrats in the United States do follow a Liberalist manifesto….but anyway that is not the point here) Hawke was the product of the 1980’s, our now cultural cringe, America’s Cup, big beer cans, greed is good! Mentality, life was an eternal Barbie. Then there was Keating…errr possibly the less said about him the better…Howard was the echo, as much as so many of my colleagues and close friends will kill me for this, Howard was an echo of our society at the time he was in power. Howard’s battlers, as they often called in the press were what he represented and Kevin Rudd…errr perhaps it’s better to say Former Prime Minister KRUDD! (cheap shot I know) ; represented mainly I think, well tried to appeal to and I hate using these terms, the Y-Generation, the ‘Wi-fi Generation and everyone who though that this later part of the decade were going to be the beginning of the modernist, humanist golden age…
The problem is we are now showing, as a nation, as a society our true nature. We are completely apathetic. Neither party won the election! We have to remember this…it wasn’t that we failed to vote in a viable, reliable, stable bunch of politicians…it was that we ourselves were failed by Canberra. We put up with a lot from our politicians, incompetence, mainly gets thrown around a lot, but think about it, wars we don’t want to be in, or totally understand, free market trading that is killing our farms and our wallets, lack of leadership on real moral and ethical crisis….but the biggest thing both sides failed to deliver to us was a choice. But why is that? is it because of that She’ll be right mate…she’ll be right…mate attitude that so many of us have been brought up in, maybe it has caused more damage than we could have foreseen. People have often said that there would never be civil war in this country…which is good…because we are too lazy and apathetic, it also being that we really don’t have the need. So, if there is an outcome within the next week or so, or (since writing this piece there has been one…what are we going to do).
But let’s have a quick look at this previous election campaign to figure out why no-one got a majority, because it seems like no-one really cared all that much about the whole thing. Of course there was the quite serious conscientious protest vote for the Greens but was there anything else in it, at all?
What was in it for young people? Why should anybody under the age of forty, have voted in this year’s election? What policy statements had been clearly defined in minute detail about what the government is going to do for people who don’t have a mortgage, who in a lot of cases are not putting children through school. What incentives had been show cased in this year’s campaign to promote something other than economics, and unfortunately what seem to be almost Joseph McCarthy inspired policies on immigration and refugees. I am very glad that I am not an indigenous Australian at the moment. Sure, Pacific and Torres Strait Islanders have just been granted a voice, and for the first time real representation—but what else had there been on the election campaign for them.
What had the Labor government done for Indigenous Australians since the apology? What about the skills shortage? Which people might not realizing is effecting a lot more people than just ‘tradies’ look at what is happening across the board, across the country with University degrees. Education has become a joke, Arts courses have become little more than glorified high school film appreciation courses. If you have noticed I have not mentioned anything about the celebrity profiles of our politicians—nor their gender. Nor their clothing style or what they wear to the beach.
If real constitutional change is to happen for the better—than it will have to happen very, very quickly, for no matter who ends up winning at this point there will be a lot of dangers in the parliament…look at Kevin Rudd for example if the Labor party ends up winning what are they going to do with him? Surely he would be too dangerous on the back or front bench if the rumours are true about him making phone calls on Election Night asking if he would have support if Labor lost—I kid you not that was in the press the next day, but rather hidden. And if the Coalition win what are they going to do for a Speaker, especially in a hung parliament—their best chance is to appoint Rudd as the speaker of the house, thus affording the speaker of the house with real power and give Rudd the public platform he needs and craves…
If the coverage of this election is anything to go by, surely we are in danger of having US Presidential style elections—look at all the stunts Abbot and Gillard were doing—sadly and not surprisingly at all, a few people I know whom were handing out how to vote cards on the day told me, from different poling booths that people were coming up to them and asking, “So how do we vote for Abbot/Gillard or Brown?” surely they know we don’t vote for the leader, except if that person is in your electorate..I heard it on polling day as well, people standing next time talking to friends or partners saying’ how do we do this? Who are we voting for? I haven’t even see these guys on telly…”
And what about the parties in general…are we really now so disillusioned with politics in this country that we have abandoned the major parties all together—well it looks a lot like that doesn’t it.
Let’s hope more notice is taken by everyone, young people especially in the next few years…otherwise who knows what horrors may befall us in the lucky country…