Not Looking Forward To A Backward Country

They are coming! Run! Run! pic by Cirophoto

Today is election day, a day on which it seems Australia will decide it prefers to look backwards rather than forward. Back to the mythical certainty of a mythical one party government – which is in reality a coalition, the same as the one we just had, except it won’t have it’s knife-fights in pubic – and back to seemingly simple solutions, if any, to complex, even intractable problems.

Back also, to rule by a man who has spent years fighting viciously to destroy his rivals, no matter the cost to our country, or our democracy, because he was and remains furious at being cheated of what he thought was rightfully his after the last election, the Prime Ministership. Yes, I do mean Tony Abbott.

If Australia gives him the prize today, we will be deciding that pretty much everything, from helping refugees get on their feet again, to treating all its citizens with equal respect and dignity, to the proper care of its older citizens, to helping poorer neighbouring countries (the list is long, but I’ll stop there), is all going to be thrown into the ‘too hard’ basket.

We expect mothers to go to work to help pay the mortgages on ridiculously overpriced houses, and then take the bulk of their pay to mind their children. Pay which is still significantly less than a man gets for the same job. We do nothing to fix this, yet we call ourselves the country of the ‘fair go’.

We expect some people – again mostly women – to care for our most vulnerable, the oldest and the youngest, because we are working too hard to have the time to do it ourselves. Yet we won’t pay them a decent wage, and then wonder why our parents and children are sometimes treated neglectfully, even cruelly. Now we’re apparently happy to elect a government that will relax the regulation of the sector. If you think that’s a great idea, check this out.

We applaud rising property prices as if they were a good thing (which they are for some of us, but a disaster for most), while refusing to levy adequate taxes on those who could well afford them to supply housing for those we shut out of property ownership. It’s just too hard, too ‘divisive’ an issue to tackle. We can’t be bothered.

Most of us have little religious faith, and that which we have is more akin to a habit we’re too lazy to break, like smoking, rather than a deeply-held philosophy which informs our behaviour. Most do not attend church. Yet we permit those churches to escape paying tax on their business enterprises and property, to the tune of billions of dollars, because we’re too lazy to tell them to shape up and pay their fair share. Too afraid, perhaps, of possible damnation to call out the Taliban-like zealots who lurk in their shelter. We don’t want to have the fight.

All of this (and there is much more) pales, however, beside our refusal to do anything significant about climate change, on the infuriatingly infantile grounds of “I won’t if they won’t”. After all, paid parental leave is very small beer compared with stopping, and then reversing, changes to our only home, this planet, before it turns into a place where we become an endangered, non-viable species.

The one political party which looks on all this with relatively clear eyes, and faces up to the hard choices, is the Greens. By world standards, a mild and inoffensive middle-of-the road bunch, they are pilloried as ‘extremists’. They’re not. They are currently the only realists in Australian politics. Which is why they have my vote today.

As to preferences: I ignore all how to vote cards, and I vote below the line, and so should you. Here’s a website to make it easier. You like easy and simple, don’t you? As to the ‘wasted vote’ argument, it’s a lie, pure and simple.

No vote is wasted under our system, only in a ‘first past the post’ system. There’s a simple explanation of how this works here, but the important point is that for every first preference vote, the party picks up $2.48 in electoral funding (if they score at least 4% of the total vote).

I voted 1 for the Greens. They won’t win the seat here, but even though they will eventually be eliminated from the ballot, and my vote will be transferred to my number 2 choice, the Greens will get $2.48 for my vote. Neat,huh?

We will all, of course, survive. The sky will not fall just yet (though it will get uncomfortably hot). But it’s not going to be pleasant.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)