I first wrote this popular post mid 2012, but with the election this year I took the liberty of updating it and reinforcing why I vote Labor.
I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam (the first time) and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.
Although I still wasn’t interested in politics in 1975 I voted for Gough as I wasn’t happy at the way he was dismissed by John Kerr (with the help of Fraser, in my opinion).
I stayed with Labor until the early nineties. Yes, I voted for Hewson and I voted for Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating (for his arrogance). In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong. He was perfect.
It wasn’t long, however, before I would mumble to myself: “Come back Paul. All is forgiven”.
With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at their prime ministerships both history and I will/have judged Keating to be the far better of the two. And by a country mile!
But I digress.
After securing work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) it soon became obvious to me that Howard was nothing but a political opportunist. Aboriginal people became political footballs and he soon caught on that ATSIC bashing provided him with the Midas touch. Despite having at his disposal skilled policy makers and Aboriginal people with their pulse on community needs and real contemporary issues, he found it was better politics to be driven by media demands and editorials. There were more votes in helping with the bashing than formulating some real beneficial programs to help these marginalised and disadvantaged members of our society.
It was sad having to visit remote Indigenous communities and make excuses as to why they were continually being ignored by Canberra. “Oh how different it might have been under Keating” I would silently mutter.
The disappointment I detected in the Howard Government in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia was nothing compared to the detestation of him I felt within the Public Service when moving to Canberra. Frankly, it was quite a surprise and one that found me asking questions as to why.
The answers weren’t that complex.
From working closely with him and his government, Public Servants saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of pricks they were. It didn’t take me long to discover this either. Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably. Public Servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition. I am not at liberty to disclose what I witnessed, but let me say that in my eyes Howard was still perfect. The perfect asshole, that is.
I often wished that those people interstate who still worshiped him could come to work in the Public Service and see first-hand for themselves what a miserable turd he actually was. It’s a pity that the truth never ventured past the boundaries of Canberra.
On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it. The bullying had stopped and the Public Service was again apolitical, which is how it should be.
But it was after they lost office that I saw how miserable and mean-spirited this Liberal Party is.
I can not give exact details, but I was involved in formulating many policies that were aimed at assisting both disadvantaged and mainstream Australians. To see something finally being done for the wider community was inspiring. Sadly, the programs went nowhere or somewhere at a snail’s pace, keeping disadvantaged Australians disadvantaged. Why? Because the Opposition made every attempt possible to ruin these programs because the delivery of them would bring credit to the Government. And naturally, the Opposition would then shout to the media that this Government was doing nothing and the wider community started to nod in agreement. If the wider community knew of the billions of dollars that were wasted because of the Opposition’s tactics they might not have nodded so obligingly.
At about this time it was very easy to become demoralised as a Public Servant; working your arse off to get this country moving then watch everything crumble because the Liberals didn’t want it to move. They exhibited no interest whatsoever for the community or its needs. Adopting Howard’s manipulative trait, they were only interested in ruining a duly elected Government and having parties in The Lodge. They haven’t changed much, have they?
I’ve seen enough of the Liberal Party in my dozen or so years as a Canberran to carry a hatred for them for many years yet. I’m definitely Labor to the core and not afraid to admit it.
I couldn’t care less about all the media speculation of ‘the faceless men’ or ‘union hacks’ of ‘leadership speculation’. I couldn’t care less when people scream that the ‘new’ Labor has drifted from its traditional base. I like the Labor of now. I ignore the rants from the rabid right that this Government is ‘toxic’ or that Julia Gillard is the worst Prime Minister ever. It’s all shit, spoken by ignorant fools.
I can also take the abuse and taunts from right-wing nut jobs over my political leaning. I don’t care if I’m the last Labor voter in the country, for I’m not changing.
This is not to say that I’m entirely happy with the current Government or Julia Gillard, but these are over issues that don’t affect me personally, such as gay marriage and the refugee impasse. I’d like to see gay marriage legalised and I’d like to see ‘boat people’ processed here in Australia. On the latter, I don’t like the way they’ve played into the Liberal’s grubby hands on the asylum seeker crisis.
I also think that since 2007 Labor have done a lousy job selling itself. Here they could take a leaf out of John Howard’s book of telling anybody with a microphone or a TV camera how good they are. Howard drummed it into us, and we heard it that many times that many actually believed it.
It’s the same manner Tony Abbott uses to shout to everybody how bad the Gillard Government is. And the friendly media are happy to keep printing his lies.
Again I’m digressing.
The point is, I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment: the Australian Labor Party.
Can I really believe that the LNP would put ordinary Australians first? Can I really believe they’d be a better alternative for pensioners, parents or minority groups? Can I really believe they’d offer a better system for education, health or technology? No.
Can I believe that they would offer a better form of government for the upper class, the media barons or the mining giants? Yes.
I repeat: I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment … and that’s the Australian Labor Party.
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