Being serious about the exercise of my democratic right to vote in the upcoming federal election has caused me to think more carefully than ever before about the options. More than that I have had to consider whether I really do have choices.
The Labour Party and the Coalition are the two main parties and one or the other has ruled Australia for my whole life. No other party is large enough to even win an election let alone form a government. Our system requires the winning of a majority of seats (electorates) in a majority of states. The minor parties, and independent candidates may win seats but they can't form governments. The value of independents in the parliament is a debate for another time but from the point of view of the voter, you have to determine whether the person you elect to represent you in parliament is actually going to be able to achieve anything if they are not part of the government or at least a major party.
Running my eye over the options I am left without a party I can call my own. One that truly and totally represents my point of view and one which can achieve things for me locally and nationally. When nobody completely measures up, I am forced into a choice between lesser evils. I am stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
A vote for the Coalition gives me a government led by a man who I feel is 'not right' for the job of Prime Minister, and which doesn't like spending money until election time. Their obsession with surpluses is annoying, to put it mildly. A vote for the Greens will give me a carbon tax amongst a host of other extreme environmental policies, soft immigration policies and same sex marriages. I tried Family First, although the name is strange given that the importance of the family unit to a functional society is universally held and self evident, but they don't have policies. They have general statements of principle which I happen to agree with but they don't have any policies. Respecting Rev. Fred Nile as I do, I checked out the Christian Democrats and again courtesy of fundamental shared faith in Jesus Christ, I found plenty with which I could agree. However, their policies on drugs are too hard in my view, almost graceless and some of the CDP's rhetoric on immigration issues borders on racist. And what economic credentials do any of the minor parties have? Finally I return to what has been my default position since I began voting twenty four years ago:The Australian Labour Party.
With the ALP I have a poll driven wishy washy government which has fallen into the sustainable population trap. A government led by someone who modified her public persona and bored us all as soon as she wiped the blood off the knife. This government conducts endless reviews and commissions of enquiry but doesn't act. Their response to the Henry tax review was disappointingly underwhelming.
I need a party with the clout to succeed. The strength and courage to rip the big changes which are necessary to keep Australia the ridiculously prosperous nation that it is. I want people to be put first. I want compassion and grace. I want Christian values because those who love God and people, have positively and immeasurably transformed the world. Governments should pour resources into education, health and public infrastructure. I want a passionate and brave leader who inspires me and makes me proud to be an Australian, and who leads a government which is strong, clever, competent and compassionate.
Daryl Kerrigan might tell me that I'm dreaming but I am happy to admit to being an idealist. Is the Labour Party led by Julia Gillard whom I have always admired as a leader, what I am looking for or will I simply have to settle for second best?