Tales From The Upper Left-Hand Side – #AusVotes
I’m hardly a political boffin. I mean, I care about politics, especially those political decisions which separate or include religion into politics, ones involving medical decisions that should probably remain in the realm of one’s own personal decisions, or environmental and social decisions that will change my quality of life or the environment itself.
However in this year’s election season I find it hard to not get involved. There is so much at stake that I feel that to remain silent would be to shirk my responsibilities as a person who not only has the power to comment, but to reach an audience that may not otherwise know about the issues at hand.
So with that in mind, I’m going to present a few things that have been brought to my attention, and with my heart on my sleeve, show what my intentions are for this election and how I will be placing my vote on Saturday.
Choosing a political party can be very confusing, especially when the two major players seem to be too busy throwing insults at each other to ever mention a thing about policy. My family are traditionally Labor supporters, but the difference between The Labor Party (generally left of centre) and their counterpart, The Liberal Party Coalition (traditionally right of centre) is so vague these days that a differentiation between them becomes difficult. Given the revolting characters of the two political candidates who could become Prime Minister, (Kevin Rudd with his self-centred, power-hungry lack of loyalty to his peers, and Tony Abbott with his 15th century attitudes toward women and families), I find the biggest sentiment among people I talk to being a confusion in choosing the best of a bad bunch. With this in mind, let me direct you to the ABC’s Political Compass application, which will help you to see just where you sit on the political scale. After filling out the app, I discovered, to no real surprise, that I sit in the “upper left-hand side”, almost right on top of where “The Greens” sit on the scale.
This was very helpful. I already knew that The Liberal Party’s policy line was not in line with what I wanted to see for the future of the nation, but I had no idea how aligned I was with The Greens before this. I have voted Greens in the past, but only because the two major parties have often failed to address any of the issues that I find to be important.
With this in mind, it is important to note that the Australian political system is based on the liberal democratic model with a written constitution, which is similar to that used in the UK and USA, but different in many aspects. Firstly, the vote is compulsory for all Australian citizens above the age of 18. Secondly, as opposed the the US system, instead of voting for a leader or party for the country, we vote for our local member for that party, and the leadership of the nation is then given to the leader of the party that wins.
For instance, I can vote Greens in my electorate, and Greens can win in that electorate. The candidate for my area then becomes the political representative for my area, and sits either in the senate or the House of Representatives, depending on which house they were running for.
Knowing that having a secular government is of great importance to me, I found this “Secular Scorecard“, put together by The Rationalists Society of Australia to be of particular interest. The scorecard marks next to each party the score from A to F (with F being “Consistently negative or hostile”) against these 10 criteria:
- Overall grade
- Separation between religion & the state
- One law for all
- Special treatment for religious organisations
- Protection of children
- Secular education
- Sex and sexuality
- Reproductive choices
- Dying with dignity
The lowest overall scores (“F”) went to the Democratic Labor Party (not to be confused with The Australian Labor Party) and Family First (a Christian family based party). Highest scores (“A”) went to minor parties such as The Australian Greens, The Secular Party and The Sex Party. The two major parties, the Australian Labor Party (“B”) and Liberal Coalition (“C”) both scored in a mid-to-high range, but still are under-performing in these areas. Of course I understand the The Rationalist Society of Australia have in their interests that a secular agenda be met, but according to this, my vote could be better spent by voting for the Greens candidate in my area, Tim Read. He has a real chance of winning in my electorate, especially given the changing demographic in my area, from a traditionally safe Labor seat to a younger, more progressively minded society of 30-50 year-olds.
A secular government is of paramount importance to me, and while one of the political parties is The Secular Party, I feel that that a vote for them, while their political stance most aligns to mine, would be a truly wasted vote, when a party like The Greens actually stands a much better chance of getting some representatives through to the Senate and House of Representatives.
I’m not telling you how to vote. I would never do that. I’m just telling you how I am voting, and how this difficult decision has been made.
EDIT: As has been pointed out in the comments below, it is quite right that you can vote for a minor party and still give your preference vote to a party such as Greens , ALP or Liberal. See here for details on how to do this at Below The Line.