By Matt Hurley
It appeared in the beginning that Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s modus operandi was to simply shut up, sit still and watch as Abbott destroyed himself in a flurry of gaffes and ill–considered Captain’s Calls. For the most part it seemed to work; he wasn’t doing much opposing but he didn’t need to with Abbott making such a dill of himself. It was all good. We have since watched Shorten find his voice, and it has been horrific.
I might be terribly wrong, but I thought the idea of the opposition party was to oppose the party in power. Why then have we seen bipartisan support for such treachery as the insidious Data Retention bill, the despicable Border Force act, and now Shorten extolling the virtues of ‘turning back the boats’?
The mistreatment of refugees is distressing in itself, but it demonstrates how inadequate the opposition is if it will be complicit in the Coalition’s blatant human rights’ abuses. It is proof perfect that Australian politics has descended into nothing more than a contemptuous blend of populism and appeasement of sponsors. There obviously exists no long-term vision for this country, just the need to appeal to the lowest common denominator and get over the line.
I have long held that bipartisan politics is unsatisfactory, and its current dire state a manifestation of our collective laziness and insouciance. It has never been clearer that as far as the major parties are concerned, our choice is an illusion.
So, what do we do? Do we allow ourselves to continue to choose between the apparent lesser of two evils? I propose that we take a look at what it is to be a democracy. In its truest sense, democracy is rule by the people. We are a nation of many diverse cultures, attitudes and interests. It therefore stands to reason that our government should reflect our rich diversity, and comprise of varied representatives.
There were a record number of candidates in the 2013 federal election, representing not only the major parties but a plethora of minor parties and independents. Perhaps as a result of increasing dissatisfaction with the major parties, we are seeing an increase in smaller parties and independents holding much of the balance of power. This is a good thing. These smaller parties and independents embody grassroots politics. They have arrived where they are by appealing to the people of their electorate, and they’re on the rise. Could you envision a government made entirely of those who have worked to capture the hearts and minds of their electorate? This, I believe, is democracy.
I would implore you to consider the policies of the many minor parties. There are some very well developed positions on important issues hiding amongst parties developed by people with a passion for democracy. At the very least, let us send a message of dissatisfaction to the major parties by throwing our support behind the little guys, at best hoping for a more accurate representation of the diversity of our nation in government.
Suppose I have not swayed you. Suppose you are a habitual major party voter or just too lazy to look into the minor parties. I despair that there is no reaching you. But if you truly support a major party, you ought to demand better of your representatives, because the exasperation is palpable and the alternatives are waiting side of stage.