Thursday, 5 September 2013

The 2013 Federal Election is around the corner...and it's about time

The Australian 2013 Federal Election is this Saturday and although the actual election period has been very short (just 4 weeks since it was announced), anyone living in Australia would know that the politicians have been campaigning for much longer.  To my American friends: how do you guys deal with election campaigns as long as yours...don't you get bored of hearing the same message over and over?

In previous posts I had said that I would look at the economic policies of both parties and try to take them apart and analyse the fact from the fiction.  I didn't end up doing this as both major parties drove me nuts on several issues and thinking about politics made my head hurt.

While I'm sure that there are many 'true believers' when it comes to voting for one party or another, I'm also fairly sure that there are others like me.  People who are sick and tired of politicians appealing to the lowest common denominator on a number of issues.  Those who are sick and tired of politicians making populist policy instead of policies that are right for the country.

If you still don't know where you sit 3 days out from an election then this post is for you.

Ignore the media when it is pushing an agenda or publishing any sort of opinion

I have heard about how biased the media can be in the US when it comes to US elections however we had not really seen it here until this election.  Rupert Murdoch's Fox News is notorious around the world for being a biased, right wing, quasi news organisation.  His newspapers in Australia have not been nearly as bad...until this election.

When an newspaper editorialises in support of one candidate or another at the start of an election and then goes on to print stories which bash the other candidate for the whole election then it is no longer news - it is free advertising and you should treat it as such.

If you find the media you usually read doing this overtly or even subtly then switch your reading.  I find that Murdoch's newspapers are terrible, Fairfax's are somewhat better and the ABC gives the most balanced coverage.

You have to work out what is important to you

If you intentionally switched off during the election campaign...I understand.  But the fact is that you have to vote so work out what issues are important to you and where parties stand on what issues.  I used vote compass which is a non partisan way of working out which parties best suit your view points.  It is not perfect but it certainly helped me.

I have written about it before...but you should vote in a way that also reflects your own self interest because no one else is going to do it for you.  For example, if you are not rich or
reasonably well off then voting for the Coalition because they are better at managing the economy makes no sense...they work for their voting base which are generally upper income earners.  Conversely if you earn a lot of money you can bet that the Labor party is going to want to redistribute some of that.

On social issues the big issues in the next parliament will be around carbon, gay marriage and asylum seekers.  Do you believe in climate change and global warming?  If so then you probably want to stay away from the Coalition...if not then you probably want to go with them.  Do you support gay marriage?  The Greens do, Labor has just come out in support and the Coalition is against.  Do you want a tough stance on asylum seekers?  Labor and the Coalition both have offshore solutions while the Greens tend to have a softer approach.

It is unlikely that one party will fit everything you want from politics so you need to work out what is important to you, what really gets you going and then go with the party that ticks that box or those boxes for you.  I really recommend you try vote compass - I have just outlined a few of the issues and there are many others.

Even if you live in a safe seat...there is a way you can lodge an effective protest

If you live in a safe seat where one party is clearly going to win (like I do) then you may think 'why bother they are going to win anyway!' but a protest vote can be effective in one way.  The amount of funding a party gets for the next election depends on where you vote your first preference.  They get a certain dollar amount for every first preference they get.

If you want Labor, for example, but you're pretty peeved about the way they are treating asylum seekers then what you can do is vote Green (or another party who is never going to get in on your seat who supports that particular issue) and then preference Labor second.  In this way your vote effectively goes to Labor when they distribute the preferences but they wont get your funding next time.

If enough people do this hopefully the major parties will start to listen to the electorate next time.  Unfortunately when you live in a safe seat it is hard to be heard and your opinions don't matter as much as marginal seats...this is just one way you an try and make your voice heard.

Absolute power is a bad thing

Regardless of who you vote for in the lower house, I recommend not giving your preference to the Coalition in the upper house.  I know this is me making a political recommendation but please hear me out.

The Senate provides the only effective check to the power of the government in the lower house.  The polls suggest the Coalition is going to win an almighty victory in this election and I do not like the idea of them having free reign to pass whatever legislation they like without any checks and balances.

Australia does not operate like other countries - politicians only vote along party lines - and if one party has a majority in both houses you are never going to have any checks on legislation going through.  I am not saying to vote for Labor in the upper house - vote for anyone you like...

As long as the Coalition has to convince someone else that their policy is a good idea then it typically gets some further thought and there is real debate which is always a good thing.

Good luck and don't forget to vote - there is a fine!  Voting is open from 8am until 6pm on Saturday.

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