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100 days to the Australian federal election *sigh*

Last updated on 7 Jun 2013

As we count down to the election that we have to have, a few observations are in order.

1. The two main parties are effectively indistinguishable. Both are serving corporatist interests, not the interests of the people. Both have a xenophobic and borderline racist view of refugees contrary to Australia’s treaty obligations. Both are organised in order to get power for power’s sake. Neither have a set of principles they believe and act upon. Both are deeply corrupt and represent plutocratic classes, a political class in Australian life. In short, they are the Whigs and Tories of the eighteenth century.

2. Politics is corrupted in Australia by the media, which reports only on Canberra politics and economics as if the rest of government were insignificant. Consequently, most Australians have no idea of what goes on in actual government. We have adopted the American Cult of Personality as if representative democracy were about celebrity, not representation of electorates [Late note. We do not elect a prime minister, we elect a representative to Parliament who may vote for a prime minister in a party room and then Parliament. In fact, the PM is not even a constitutional role.]

3. We treat the economy as the stakeholder of interests in Australia, not people. This is part of a worldwide trend to promote economics (for which read: the interests of the wealthy) over people (for which read: the non-wealthy). But an economy is just an abstraction drawn out of the activities of actual people. The goal of a nation should not be to raise its GDP or trade balance, but to improve the lives of its citizens and residents.

4. Australia has a frigging preferential voting system! This means that if you vote for a minor party you have not wasted your vote! Again and again the major parties say that voting for the Greens, the Sex Party or the Pirate Party is a wasted vote. It’s a trick! You can vote for anyone you like and put the least objectionable major party above the more objectionable major party and still ensure a less worse outcome. But if enough people vote for these “minor” parties, they will become major parties. Given the way in which the majors have become servants of vested interests, this is long overdue.

5. Some democracy would be nice. All of the above considerations have undercut our democratic foundations. We are given a Hobson’s Choice between two bad options as if that was all that is on offer. We believe them. Don’t.

If you think Australia should be a free, fair and open society that treats people according to their rights as in a less nasty time we agreed they should be, vote for the best party you know despite the media framing. If you worry more about Abbot than Gillard (which, marginally, I do), then put Gillard’s corrupt party first, or vice versa, but for the sake of my nation, vote for the best candidates, not the best marketed party. Your grandchildren will thank you.


  1. Neil Neil

    Absolutely agree with 2-5. As for 1, I recall 1996 too well, when people voted for Howard because they thought it was time for a change, and the two parties are essentially indistinguishable. They are, of course, far too similar because Labor has lurched right and populist. But I am willing to bet you half a pound of good Belgian chocolate (see, I gamble for *real* stakes) that there will come a time when you will agree that there is genuine suffering other Abbott that we would otherwise have avoided.

  2. You make that sound a lot like a USA election.

    You have one big advantage – it’s only 100 days. Around these parts, campaigning is already warming up for the 2016 election.

    • We have become Americanised, although our political system is very different to yours, because of the ubiquity of US media and debates in the media.

      And this damned election has been going on for way too long. Usually we don’t have a set election date, so long as it occurs within three years of the last one. But our PM decided to set a date very early (a bad mistake) so the opposition are playing every Rethuglican trick they can to smear them and set the “issues”. Hence the sigh.

      • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

        With proportional representation there’s no excuse for having two corporatist parties.

        Has the austerian disease poisoned Australia like it has the UK, Europe & America?

        • Yes, we have asterianism in both major parties. Despite having the lowest unemployment rate, best trade balance and economic status for decades…

        • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

          “Despite having the lowest unemployment rate, best trade balance and economic status for decades… ”

          You forgot to mention historically low inflation.

  3. DiscoveredJoys DiscoveredJoys

    Don’t even ask about UK politics. My suspicion is that there is another significant factor adding to the likelihood of a beige government.

    The number of people working for government (e.g. the Civil Service and Local Government in the UK) has swollen as the ‘role’ of government has expanded, and these ordinary, mostly middle class, people like stability. They don’t like surprises. Their huge inertia passively resists change and direction by the elected representatives. If you can find the UK TV program ‘Yes, Minister’ on You Tube or similar you’ll see a parody of this situation. I’m not sure that it is far from the truth though.

    Hence the saying ‘Whoever you vote for, the Government always gets in.”

    • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

      So are they going to reward Cameron for trashing your economy? At least Gordon Brown kept you out of the Euro Zone, so you can have coherent, such as it is, fiscal and monetary policies.

  4. Jeb Jeb

    “Whigs and Tories of the eighteenth century.”

    I must confess I have just read a pro- slave pamphlet from the period that read as if it had been written by the minister in charge of the department of work and pensions in regard to poverty and the poor. Moral tone and rhetoric is completely unchanged. Was almost word for word the same. Was rather chilling to read.

    We seem to be going through a semi-detached moment in the U.K. Leave the E.U. or here in the North leave the U.K. U.K does seem to have slipped its moorings somewhat and left the planet.

    Its a serious moment as significant differences between North and south emerge on Europe and the role of the public sector. Whilst independence fortunately does not carry a majority backing increasing powers of devolved government does look more inevitable as the slash and burn politics anti public sector perspective so popular across England just will not play out here.

    “The goal of a nation should not be to raise its GDP or trade balance, but to improve the lives of its citizens and residents.” This has come up in debate here of late, major constitutional change is at least bringing up some interesting questions, it seems to be the positive aspect of the whole thing. Its unfortunately not reflect U.K wide.

      • Jeb Jeb

        I like George Crabbe’s take on the way our dreaming gives form to the world.

        “That the soul sees and we suppose the eyes“

  5. So, basically, Americans can no longer move to Oz to get better government? Damn, the options keep shrinking …

    • We are 10-15 years late in adopting the worst of US and UK behaviours, so come here and go back to the 1990s.

  6. Thrinaxodon Thrinaxodon

    What next? Allow the, “teach the controversy” scam in the science classrooms? There should be some liberals in the parties.

  7. Roger Shrubber Roger Shrubber

    Life imitating art, news about politics driving politics, tail wagging the dog.

    The Aussie system is corrupt but also inept so that many Aussies don’t care. I’ve managed to get most everyone to voice deep frustration over mineral wealth feeding billionaires and relatively little returned to fund infrastructure or other needs but nobody seems to care. The Greens routinely slit their own throat with high-horsed sanctimony, completely failing at the lesson of political pragmatism. The Libs and Labor are equally sanctimonious about their superiority over their major rivals. And it’s all so strange because that’s a quality that Aussies generally seem to detest.

    Ultimately, folks are pretty jaded, perhaps complacent.

    Mind you, if a truly charismatic leader arose to awaken the sleeping masses they would at least chop that tall poppy down. But then I’m a bit jaded.

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