Posted by Tim Harrison
I was listening to the radio recently and heard a foreign correspondent saying people in America think it’s odd we can vote for a party and have the leader change mid-race (a la Gillard taking over the ‘top job’). Of course, in the USA, election campaigns are all about the candidates and the party seems to be secondary. Who can forget Barrack Obama’s win? But, for the life of me right now, I confess I can’t recall what political party he represents. Proof positive it’s all about the candidates.
So are we really so different here in Australia? One could be forgiven for thinking the election was a 50/50 ballot between just two people… Julia ‘moving forward’ Gillard and Tony ‘real action’ Abbott. But what about the other several hundred candidates across the nation? What about the Greens, or Family First, or the Sex Party, or the independents….? For all the doohickey in the media, we’re only hearing about Abbott and Gillard. Labor vs Liberal.
And, when we sit and look at the coverage, where are the real issues buried? So far we’ve had argy-bargy over the NBN (a national solution to high speed internet), immigration and “the economy”. Very comprehensive. What about the nitty-gritty? So far, it all seems to be carefully scripted ‘we’re better than you’, ‘no, look how much you messed that up’ and ‘your numbers don’t add up.’
Oh puhleeeese. Even the ‘debate’ worm has gone into hibernation due to a lack of interest.
Before you consign yourself to apathy and just ticking any old box on the 21st, consider where your candidates stand on issues like:
- Local health – do they have a plan to meet the challenge of an ageing population? How will the government take care of you when you’re old?
- Housing and development – have your local candidates come up with a way to accommodate increased population while maintaining your quality of life? (Think public transport, water, road congestion etc)
- Equality – what position do you local candidates take on equality for everyone? And this isn’t just about gender or sexuality. It’s got to be all-encompassing – you deserve a fair go regardless of your background, gender, race, wealth, marital status, employment status etc.
- Roads – have your local candidates spelled out how they’re going to address the potholes in your street? Multi-million dollar freeways are very marketable, but what if you don’t use them? You need to consider what they’re doing about your local roads.
- Education – even if you don’t have kids, it’s important we all have access to education should we want it. You might be in your 50s, but you should be able to get into University if you want to.
So, you might be getting an idea now (I hope). A little research on your part could just change your mind about ticking the boxes blindly.
With recent events like this popping up, you have to ask the question… is there a candidate in my electorate that polarises my opinion so strongly?
Voting in this country may be compulsory, but it’s also an immense privilege to live in a democratic country that offers us all the chance to play our part in shaping the government.
Don’t waste your chance thinking it’s a two horse race… it’s anything but.