Who do I vote for?
For those of you not in Australia, we have this rather quaint law which requires all citizens over the age of 18 to vote. If you don't turn up at a polling booth for State and Federal elections you are fined approximately $100. You can often get out of the fine if you are either overseas, infirm or out of contact for long periods of time, however it's good not to test it too much.
Do I agree with compulsory voting? Not really. Where's the democracy in making it law to vote - or more to the point turn up at a polling booth on election day. Wouldn't it be more democratic to give people the choice, like they do in most other Western societies? Then again, Australians are pretty apathetic by nature and to get more than a 30% turnout on election day would probably not happen. I can deal with the having to turn up to a poll booth - what makes me cringe is the candidates we are forced to vote for. And the reason that the great unwashed vote for the aforesaid candidates.
I remember at the last election, my sister said that she was voting for the Liberal Party - because "They're the family party." I nearly choked on my coffee.
Also, like Britain and America, Australia is ruled by two party politics. We have the Labor Party, the Red Team, the sort of socialist left side, and the Liberal Party, the blue team, or the capitalistic soft right side of things.
There are also a number of rather powerful factional side parties, the largest of these are the Green Party, and they're not green because they're naive - more they picket on environmental issues. There's also the Sex Party, the Socialist Democrats, the rather dire Family First Party, One Nation, Single Fathers..... the list goes on.
So, Australia goes to the polls on 21 August. I have twenty days to decide who to put my vote towards, though with the proportional representational system of voting we use over here, often who you vote for is influenced by the preference votes. And don't get me started on the Senate - where you either put a number one in the top section of the battot paper and the preferences are distributed accordingly - or you can mark every box from one to 367 in order of preference. It can take half an hour.
The senate used to be easy to do. Until a few years ago we had this party called the Australian Democrats who's motto was "Keep the Bastards Honest." I liked that about them, and so did many others, and they use to get a lot of senate votes - enough to really keep the fork tongued gits on the slight straight and narrow
Then it comes down to the candidates for Prime Minister.
The Liberal bloke, Tony Abbott, often known as the "Mad Monk" by his daughter's admission is "lame, gay, churchy loser. He likes to wear speedos in public, miles from a beach. He's also rather misogynistic, completely anti-abortion, fiscally hard, risk averse and had no future vision.
The misogyny and his ties with the Church scare me the most about him. I'm all for the separation of Church and state. There are many in this country that don't feel that way. Abbott also wants to tear down the National Broadband Network - something that will set back telecommunications in the country. He also wants to bring back the draconian Work Choices legistlation.
Sorry, I just can't go there.
Then there's Julia Gillard, the current Labor leader. Red headed, Welsh, Immigrant from Adelaide. I was initially excited when she became Prime Minister. I never expected a woman to get the top job.
Looking at how she's done over the last few months, I'm unsure. I certainly have no issue with the fact that she's unmarried, living with a partner, a lawyer and sounds like a fishwife. But I'm yet to hear a policy come out of her mouth. But that goes with Abbott too. I know all about the candidates, I have no idea what they stand for. Gillard has also be quoted as saying "This week you see the real Julia." If we haven't been seeing the real Julia up until now, who have we been seeing?
I've never voted Liberal. I could never stomach the fact that schools and hospitals always suffer at their hands. And after the eleven years of John Howard, I never want to see them in again.
Then again, I know the damage the sometimes dodgy financial management of the Labor Party.
I'm also in a marginal seat. The current sitting member is leaving politics after this election. I rather liked Lindsay Tanner. He always wrote back when I got on my soap box.
But I have no idea what they new guy is about.
I've been trawling through the Greens website, having a look at what they have to say. Interesting.
It might come down to the day. I know the senate can have my Green vote - easy that one. Keep the bastards honest.
But for the house of representatives - we will have to see.
It's all a bit hard.