As you walk into a polling booth next Saturday remember this – despite the media harassing some candidates to outline who they are ‘giving preferences to’ or party workers trying to shove how to vote cards in your hands as you turn up at the booth, no political party controls the preferences that you distribute. There is absolutely no reason why you have to follow the instructions of a political party unless you happen to believe that the order suggested is the best result you could wish for. If you feel like voting for a conservative ‘anti-vax’ party and making a party with a socialist agenda your second preference there is nothing wrong with that. Voting is secret in this country, the party workers can’t check up on you, there is no surveillance in the cardboard stalls and the pencils don’t have a 5G chip to work out you are a closet communist or neo-nazi.
At most polling booths, observers from a number of political parties will be present when the votes are counted and that is an important part of the demonstration of independence of the election. While the observers can ensure that ‘the authorities’ don’t drop off boxes of ballot papers to achieve a pre-ordained outcome while the count is underway, the result and the trends are reported back to the various political parties’ headquarters. If the reports going back to HQ say that no one is following the ‘how to vote cards’, hopefully they will stop printing them and wasting an enormous amount of paper!
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is claiming if you vote for any other candidate than the one from his Coalition, you run the risk of a ‘hung parliament’. By Morrison’s definition, every Australian Coalition Government since World War 2 has been a ‘hung parliament’ as he and his Liberal Prime Ministerial predecessors have relied on various other political parties (including the Nationals, the Queensland LNP and the Territory’s CLP) to remain in power. Apparently there is an agreement between the Coalition Partners which we are not allowed to see.
If either party to the Coalition agreements over the years decided at any stage to remove themselves from the agreement, the Prime Minister of the day would be fighting to gain the confidence of Parliament. The agreement between Morrison and National Party Leader Barnaby Joyce is not in the public realm, although it’s a pretty good bet that the Deputy Prime Ministership is part of it along with decisions such as providing $5.4 Billion in the 2022/3 budget to build the Hells Gate Dam in North Queensland, despite the business case not being finished and there being significant doubt on the economic benefit.
In 2018 former Prime Minister Turnbull spent $87,000 in legal fees to deny the ALP from accessing the Coalition Agreement. Unlike the $1.7 million donation Turnbull made to the Liberal Party during the 2016 election, the $87,000 was provided by the taxpayer.
Recently retired and well-regarded Angela Merkel was Germany’s Chancellor from 2005 until late 2021. She never had a Parliamentary majority so by Morrison’s definition, her government was emasculated because of the ‘hung parliament’. It seems that Germany can operate very well for a decade and a half with a consensus politician that has to consider the views of a number of different groups to get legislation through the Parliament. A large number of other countries have also been in a similar position with ‘Coalition Governments’ for decades, including Australia.
For Morrison to claim that a ‘hung parliament’ is a concern is simply duplicitous. If there was any accuracy to the claim, he has to count all the Coalition Governments in Australian back to at least the post-war Menzies Government as failures. In fact, the last ‘hung parliament’ where the Liberals and Nationals didn’t form Government was that of the Gillard Government. Data demonstrates the Gillard Government (with Albanese as ‘Leader of the House’) as being one of the most productive Australian parliaments ever. To survive they had to seek opinion from those outside their own political party and agree on a way forward, certainly nothing to be scared of from our perspective.
Deception seems to be part of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Coalition Governments’ DNA. Did you know that Australia ranks 18th (out of 180) on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. According to The Conversation, the Index is the world’s most widely cited ranking of how clean or corrupt every country’s public sector is believed to be. A top 20 result isn’t bad you would think, except a decade ago we ranked equal 7th with Norway. Norway is now 4th. The Conversation reported
These surveys focus on levels of public sector corruption, as well as the strength of mechanisms for preventing and controlling corruption. This makes the index not simply a list of which countries are more or less corrupt, but also an evaluation of their current anti-corruption efforts.
The CPI is recognised as a key indicator of Australia’s integrity performance – not only by reform advocates, but by the federal government itself.
It’s not hard to understand how Australia’s ranking has fallen so quickly. We have a Prime Minister that calls the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) a ‘kangaroo court’ despite promising to implement an ‘anti-corruption commission’ during the 2019 election campaign. As Crikey recently reported
Morrison says integrity bodies shouldn’t be allowed to investigate pork-barrelling and rorting of public funds for partisan purposes, telling Liberal donor Nine: “If we are going to so disempower our elected representatives to do things about what is needed in their communities, then what is the point? We can’t just hand government over to faceless officials to make decisions that impact [sic] the lives of Australians from one end of the country to the other. I actually think there’s a great danger in that.”
Government is about making decisions that impact the lives of Australians in a fair, equitable, transparent and compassionate manner.
If you are over 18, voting is compulsory in Australia. So when you go to cast your vote this week, consider this: No political party controls your ‘preferences’, you do. Follow the instructions on the ballot papers you are given and you will cast a valid vote. If a Coalition Government is so bad why has Morrison been part of one for almost a decade and do we really want to have three more years of a Government that is more concerned with staying in power than demonstrating accountability and transparency? Maybe that’s one reason why many Australians have lost faith in the political system.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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