HO HUM, AN ELECTION IS LOOMING
We have Federal elections every three years in Australia and the next one is coming up in September. According to the polls, the incumbent government, the embattled Labor party, looks as if it is going to be smashed after spending three turbulent years clinging to power with the help of some independents.
Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, has had a torrid time of it, with disunity within her own ranks; some inevitable gaffes and broken promises; the Murdoch press unrelenting in its harsh criticism and an opposition (the Liberal National Coalition) baying like bloodhounds as they find real and imaginary issues to beat up.
Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition, seems to engineer ways of being on the TV news every night, showing what a you-beaut-bloke he is, taking posed turns on factory production lines alongside the common man; or getting his hands dirty rolling dough in a bakery; or slicing up fish at the fish market; and so on, ad nauseam. He always follows these good-old-boy routines with his smack-of-the-day aimed at the government. There’s more than enough drivel on TV as it is, without having to put up with this rubbish masquerading as news day after day.
For those of you who aren’t Australians, you may be surprised that in Australia, voting is compulsory. If you don’t vote you may be fined or even gaoled, would you believe? Compulsory voting has been around since the 1920s and even though very few other countries follow suit, 70% of us Aussies are in favour of it. Now where did that come from, seeing as we consider ourselves fiercely independent and anti-authoritarian? It seems to be an unexplained mystery and paradox.
As for me, you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve offended over the years by stating my view that to make voting compulsory in a democracy is an infringement of my democratic right not to choose to vote. A number of years ago my dear father-in-law (now since departed) nearly frothed at the mouth with righteous indignation when I shared my point of view with him. At the end of the emotional tirade from my 85 year old in-law, I was beginning to feel as if I’d committed high treason. I’m a bit more careful who I share my opinion with on this touchy subject nowadays.
Interesting fact: “Any party which receives more than 4% of the primary vote, in any seat, gains electoral (read taxpayers’) funding of $2.24 per vote (now $2.48)! So after each general election, the winning party gets a huge windfall, but so too does the loser. After the 2010 election, Labor received in excess of $23 million. Even the Coalition got about $21 million and they lost the election.” (Peter Whelan, president of the LDP).
Hmmm …. I wonder if this has anything to do with why voting is compulsory?
Be that as it may, we’ve got another three months of boring politicians in our faces, so my fellow Australians gird your loins, grit your teeth and be prepared to tough it out. After the inevitable short-lived honeymoon period, get ready for the next Government to stuff up and/or suffer from foot and mouth disease. Likewise, should Labor lose, you can look forward to Julia, or her successor, wearing silly hats cramming widgets into boxes at the end of a production line surrounded by grinning cretins, before she/someone else takes advantage of 30 seconds of TV news time to lambast Tony Abbott’s latest gaffe.
Or if you’re smart, don’t turn on the six o’clock news until twenty past. Just in time to catch the sports news and the weather report.