Growing up, I never really took an interest in politics. For me it was always emulating the political beliefs of my family, most specifically my Mum who was always slightly mid-left on the political compass. Even though high school, it was more or less the same: John Howard and his band of Liberals are a bunch of bastards out to make it hard for everyone of lower social class than themselves, and Labour could do nothing wrong.
It wasn’t until I was old enough to vote that I started to give actually give a shit, and started forming my own opinion as to who I think was most capable of running the country.
At the time, it was John Howard who had at that point in time been the leader of LNP for just over a decade, and been Prime Minister of Australia for almost the same duration. His opponent in the 2007 election was a fresh faced hopeful opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, who became somewhat of a refreshing take on politics displaying compassion, empathy, and what appeared to be genuine ideas for building prosperity for all sort of nation. When Rudd was elected, he ousted Howard and took the top job. He came into office swinging, doing all sorts of good, and it finally looked like Australia was going to progress.
This was the first time I had seen a new political term from the start. As mentioned above, it seemed like things were progressing and moving along until a couple of years into the political term passed, and I started to see stagnation.
It was around the time that Kevin ’07 was backstabbed by then-Deputy PM Julia Gillard, who ousted Kevin as the leader of the Labour Party and assumed the top job of Prime Minister. I had no idea that this was even possible, and then it sank in: when you’re voting in Australia, you’re voting for the party and not the candidate.
Everything at that point seemed to be fixated on the fact that Julia was the first female Prime Minister of Australia.
At first, there was progress in the same vein as Rudd’s first few months in office. It was a step inclination right at the start, before progress would gradually begin to fade.
Julia Gillard would take the party on through to the next election, defeating the coalition of Liberal and National Democrats. Once again, there was mid-term leadership spill, where Labour power brokers dumped Gillard in favour of a returning Kevin Rudd, where he would lead the Labour Party into the next election, only to lose to the LNP and coalition leader Tony Abbott.
It was at this point that Australia seemingly had enough of the hot-potato Prime Minister job, and Abbott played that mark considerably well as a selling point of his party and why he should be elected.
This is where I started to notice the trend of progress to decline, except this time it felt as though something was amiss. My own observations of Tony Abbott’s reign as PM are that he thinks he’s in control, but it’s perfectly obvious that he’s being told what to say and when. That sounds a little conspiracy theorist, I know; but you can’t argue that Abbott doesn’t exactly come off as the sharpest tool in the shed.
Now enter Malcolm Turnbull, who’s poised to pull the same leadership switcheroo card from his sleeve and defeats Abbott in another leadership spill, making him the fifth politician to become Prime Minister in two political terms spanning 8 years. Once again, the new leader walks into office, shakes things up and promises the world to Australians and gains a slight amount of momentum before the stagnation and decline hits again, as has been the trend.
Turnbull manages to lead the LNP through the next election, and defeats the Labour Party lead by Bill Shorten, who just seems like he’s keeping the seat warm. To this day, he still doesn’t seem like a credible leader to challenge Turnbull’s government.
Sorry for the historical information vomit, but I wanted to preface the following paragraphs with some history and reasoning before I start publishing my own take on this, lest it be dismissed as just another fuckwit with an ill-informed opinion.
The trend that I mentioned earlier that’s occurred across each of the five Prime Ministers that have taken the reigns of Australia. New leader, progression, slow decline, stagnation. The cycle seems as though they’ve been allowed to do as they see fit, until they start stepping on toes and start getting cockblocked at every turn, where shortly they’re dumped and the cycle continues.
I started to question how some of these parties and candidates get elected, especially some of the really bad right-wing nutjobs like George Christiansen, George Brandis, and others who are just totally vile.
Recently, I was introduced to the concept of Gerrymandering by former Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He posted a video on Facebook that describes how American politics has utilised Gerrymandering for ages, where the boundaries of the various electorates are shifted based on support for a particular candidate, whereby the politicians are effectively picking the voters rather than the voters picking their representatives. This started to line up with my questions as to how someone like George Christiansen could get reelected.
Today, my Fiancee was watching The Last Leg hosted by Adam Hills, a show that covers both American and British Politics on a weekly basis. Recently, it was announced by incumbent U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May that there would be another election, two years after the last one, and this was one of the topics of this week’s episode. Amongst all of that, it was discussed that most young eligible voters make up a significant portion of the ballot, and they don’t actually vote, leading the panel to question what the actual cause was, and how the situation could be improved. It was suggested that education on the political system could help if it was taught in secondary education.
I thought about it for a bit, and realised that this may very well be the solution we need. I remember my secondary education being filled with some real nonsense classes that I’m yet to utilise in adult life, which were part of the mandatory curriculum.
It’s been a topic of discussion between my fiancee and I as to our secondary education experiences, and we’ve often agreed that there are things we wish we could have learned instead of the crap we did, such as how to do our taxes, register for a loan, apply for a rental property, and how to vote properly and how our political system works – things that you actually use later in life, because it’s important to know.
I tell you what; not once have I used algebra to do anything since leaving high school. Not once have I used anything I learned in drama class. Hell, our Information Technology class was an absolute joke — we learned how to make games in Game Maker, instead of how to operate a PC or how it works.
With all that in mind, I think it’s a very plausible concept that things could be improved in the various global political realms if the education was there from the start, educating those whom are learning to live their lives on why it’s important to vote properly rather that treating it as an obligational inconvenience that occurs every four years. In amongst all of that, we could teach the fundamentals in our political system, and show new voters how to find someone with ideals close to their own beliefs, instead of picking candidates based on a random order of preference just so the obligation to vote is fulfilled.
I’m not an “educated” individual. I’ve not been to University, and I don’t have a degree in Politics. But what I do have is the ability to take information, process it, and form my own opinion. All of my observations in the last decade, things I’ve learned, and people I’ve spoken to has lead me to believe something is massively askew with how our nations are governed, which needs to be corrected.