Be careful what you vote for

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The next federal election in Australia is coming up in May and we voters have a Big Decision to make.

It has been a tumultous several years since the last election, won by a whisker by the incumbent Liberal National Party coalition. Like most people, I was expecting that the Labor party would win that one. So did the Labor party. The then leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, was so confident he was overheard telling somebody he was going to be the next prime minister. Labor heavyweight Chris Bowen was so full of hubris he told a television audience (paraphrased) “if you don’t like our policy, don’t vote for us”.

Now, after covid and floods, we have to make the decision for the next few years.

The country has come out of covid pretty well, despite some mistakes from the Federal Government. I think many people forget that ours is a federal system – most power in many matters resides with the states. That’s state border control, lockdowns, provision of vaccines, and security issues around travelers quarantined for covid, and support during natural events like flood and fire. Economically, Australia has come out of covid pretty well. Unemployment is low (4%) and interest rates, having been at an all-time low of .1%, have to rise.

The down side is that the Government has a whopping deficit, created as it propped up businesses and working people during covid and they didn’t get everything right.

Many people don’t like the current PM, Scott Morrison. I think he’s done a pretty good job under trying circumstances but if you disagree, that’s fine. Many people (including me) don’t think much of the Labor candidate, Anthony Albanese. He’s one of those Labor apparatchiks who went straight from university to the union movement and from there into politics where (let’s face it) he hasn’t made much of an impact. But I hate to think this election is about two individuals. It isn’t. After all, it really doesn’t matter if I like the surgeon carrying out my op as long as he does it well. The election should be about the policies and the vision offered by the two alternative parties – and unfortunately, the raft of ‘independents’ and minor parties.

It’s very tempting, when you don’t like either of the party leaders to vote for one of the other offerings as a protest vote. The trouble with that is, with our preferential voting system, who you put down as your second pick, or your third, will mean that you’re effectively voting for one of the major parties. If you vote for a Greens candidate, you’re voting Labor. And if you’re inclined to vote Greens because climate change, please consider their policies for issues like defence in this increasingly dangerous world. In fact, many minor parties and independent candidates concentrate on only one issue and don’t know much about the real task of governing a nation. That is particularly true in the Senate, where one-issue candidates win seats with a tiny primary vote after preferences are counted.

So… it’s a choice between the imperfect mob in office at the moment and the Labor mob who look an awful lot like the people in the last Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, and who have (let’s face it) very similar policies. It’s up to us as individuals to vote for whomever we believe will do the best job. But voting for a minor party or independent may result in unintended consequences. The mot important of these is that we’ll end up with a minority government, a rag-tag of a major party with cobbled-together alliances with one or more independents. You might recall that was what happened when Gillard was prime minister and independents Oakeshott and Windsor ignored the predominantly conservative nature of their electorate to have a chance at their moments in the spotlight on the cross bench. Both of them did not re-contest their seats at the next election. I wonder why? Oh, by the way, both of them are part of Simon Holmes a Court’s climate 200 initiative which is supporting a whole raft of ‘independent’ candidates in this election.

“The makeup of the group’s advisory council gives us little insight into its political leanings. There is former Democrats leader Meg Lees, who in her defence was one of the few rational people in that proto-loony party. It also comprises former independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, who pledged loyalty to the Gillard government during the chaotic period of 2010-13 and later dogged it rather than answer to their conservative constituencies.” [source]

What it comes down to is, think very, very carefully before you number those little squares. You’re going to be stuck with it for the next three years.

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