I love a bit of politics, me. And normally I love elections. Give me a bit of round-the-clock, through-the-night, staying-with-it-till-the-results-are-in Dimbleby and I just can’t get enough of that coverage. I’ve stayed up through the night to watch the US elections unfolding before, and I happily had the BBC coverage running in the background at work as the results came in in the UK back in May.
But something about my first Aussie election left me a bit cold. Maybe it’s because although I’m a Permanent Resident here, live here, work here and pay my taxes, my lack of Aussie citizenship denies me the right to have a say in who gets to run the place (bit unfair, that, I reckon, given that Sal got to vote in the UK when we lived there, by virtue of having been born in the Commonwealth).
Or maybe it’s because the narrow range of issues that dominated the campaign seemed like issues so far removed from my own life, and the race to the bottom by two parties eager to tell the electorate what they thought they wanted to hear left me not really agreeing with either side (but just hoping whatever happened that the winner wasn’t going to be the budgie smuggling mad monk they call Tony Abbott…)
There was much discussion, for example, of “Boat People”, the unpleasant catch all term for refugees travelling overland to seek asylum in Australia. You wouldn’t know it from the predominant political narrative, but the places they arrive in Australia are really very, very far away from where most of the population of Australia lives and there are really very few of them–far, far less than the numbers of “plane people” who migrate here each year like I did, or the number of “womb people” who add to the population on a daily basis (although neither group rated a mention in this campaign for some reason). My own view (that all nations have a moral responsibility to be treating asylum seekers with dignity, rather than locking them up in offshore processing centres and treating them like criminals) unfortunately wasn’t one that was shared by either of the main parties, who competed between each other to tell this nation of immigrants how tough they’d be on these unfortunate new arrivals.
So I couldn’t get excited about this election at all. That was until it all changed on Saturday when things suddenly got interesting. Proving once again that this place just can’t help taking its cultural cues from the old dart, the voters of Australia, like their counterparts back in the UK, basically voted for no one.
Well, probably. As I understand it this thing is so close that it could be weeks before all the votes are counted, but what we do know is that no one won.
And since neither party will get the magic 76 seats it needs to form a majority government, they’ll need to sign up the 3 nutjob independent MPs and one greens MP (who unseated the Labor incumbent here in Melbourne) who have suddenly been thrust into the spotlight as kingmakers…
So, in essence, this guy now runs Australia:
Bob’s on the job. We live in interesting times indeed…