The recent release of the Australian federal budget has got me thinking how the hell the Abbott Government got into power. I remember after the announcement of the 2013 election results, my Facebook newsfeed was inundated with mixed opinions, ranging from, “that’s it, Abbott’s Prime Minister, I’m leaving Australia,” to, “Fuck you Kevin Rudd, I’m glad you’re finally gone,” and then the occasional, “Fuck the election... I just saved over my Pokemon game...”
The varied responses and some of the more colourful results of the election (Clive Palmer in the seat of Fairfax…Oh god why?) have me asking myself if voters are always right and do they even really care?
The results of the 2013 election, I think, made two things clear. Firstly, most media outlets in Australia are inherently biased when it comes to politics, and secondly, voters are incredibly disillusioned with the state of politics in Australia.
"...Australia is on the verge of spontaneously combusting in an explosion of homosexuals and “boat people” who will steal our jobs and corrupt our children."
First there was an undeniable bias in the mediafrom the start of the election campaign with the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, The Australian, Adelaide Advertiser, Hobart Mercury, Herald Sun, West Australian, NT News, Courier Mail and Canberra Times all supporting the introduction of a Coalition Government.
These publications made attacks, fear mongered and generally mislead the Australian people into believing that the ALP had gone on some sort of flippant shopping spree over the past six years, getting Australia into some sort of inconceivable, unnecessary debt.
If the Australian public stopped listening to the two-party-preferred politicians (ALP and LNP) and the media, who are, let’s face it, about one species away from blood sucking parasites, they would have found that Australia’s economy was actually really strong.
According to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, Australia was ranked third for economic strength and freedom internationally (economic freedom means our economy is strong and individuals are empowered to pursue their dreams by means of their own free choice). So, why was our economy so strong compared to the rest of the world if we were apparently in so much debt? According to the IEF the Australian economy, “benefits from sound fundamentals including monetary stability, low public debt, and a vibrant employment market”.
Apart from this, Australia was also in a group of just a handful of countries that retained their international AAA credit rating through recent Global Financial Crisis. While I’m the first person to denounce the ALP and their generally childish and abhorrent behaviour, when you realise that we had comparatively low public debt and a very strong economy, it makes you think. Maybe the Labor government wasn’t trying to completely screw the country, like the media suggested. Maybe, just maybe, they were putting money in to the country to stimulate growth so that Australia didn’t find itself, like the rest of the world, neck deep in recession.
While I did find the bias and just plain bad reporting in most of the Australian media truly vomit worthy, I don’t know what more we could have expected. I think that Jesse Richardson who created the ‘Don’t Be A Fucking Idiot This Saturday’ website to try and convince people against voting conservatively, summed it up pretty nicely. “We roundly ignore politics and then wonder why political messaging becomes a tabloid circus of desperately simplistic sound bites and sensationalism.”
I think this really hits the nail on the head: voters just don’t care anymore. We don’t talk about politics as a community or as a nation unless there is some sort of outlandish fear campaign attached to it. One that convinces us that Australia is on the verge of spontaneously combusting in an explosion of homosexuals and “boat people” who will steal our jobs and corrupt our children
But it’s more than that. I think Australians have ignored politics because it’s considered somewhat of a taboo topic. As Australians we aren’t willing to step outside our comfort zones and engage on an intellectual level about what we truly believe as individuals, it’s so much easier to just follow the herd or throw a vote away.
So, in answer to my first question, I say yes, in a democracy voters are always right, every person should have the right to express their informed and calculated opinion on how the country should be run. But this is what it must be, an informed opinion. We consistently complain about the standard of our politicians yet we are unwilling to engage in politics. So of course we end up with the Prime Minister that Rupert Murdoch wanted and the politicians and budget an unengaged country deserves.