Wake up and smell the votes, major parties

So we have woken up the day after election day with no clear result. Neither parties have enough seats to form a majority government, and the Coalition looks only set to be able to form a minority government.

Back in 2010, before the election, I didn’t even know what a ‘minority government’ or a ‘hung parliament’ was, and I wasn’t alone in my ignorance. Now, a hung parliament has been the boogeyman in the closet for both major parties, with both major leaders declaring they will absolutely not make deals with the Greens.

When they both said this, I thought it was an incredibly stupid thing to say. Deals with the Greens meant Gillard was able to form government in the 2013 election, in a feat of deft political compromise that she maintained for her entire term. That minority government put through a massive amount of legislation, despite the unique challenges of a hung parliament, the constant barrage of sexism and poll-pontificating barrelled at Gillard, and a former leader white-anting the leadership*.

Back to Turnbull and Shorten declaring they won’t make deals with the Greens. I understand why they did it. They were trying to dissuade people from voting for Greens. Turnbull spread fear about hung parliaments, despite what I said above about the 2010 government running well. But what were you thinking, Shorten and Turnbull? If there is a hung parliament, and the only option is to make a deal with the Greens to form government, what was your plan? Front up to the governer-general and say, “Sorry mate, couldn’t form government. Pre-election promise.” As far as I can understand, the choice is either to go back on a major promise, or send everyone back to the polls. Maybe another option will appear in the next few days.

It is this bad attitude towards the Greens which got the major parties (particularly the coalition) in this embarrassing position. Since 2010, Greens have gone from being a bunch of rabble rousers to being a viable threat to the two major parties. But in true Australian negative politics fashion, instead of the two major parties looking at what the Greens are doing that is so attractive and seeing how they themselves could change, they are just telling people that the Greens are bad, minority government is bad, and everyone should just stop complaining and vote for my major party.

It’s like someone whose partner leaves them for someone else and they say, “How could you go out with them over me? I’m so much better!” then start online bullying their ex’s new lover. Instead of getting a make-over or doing some soul-searching.

LNP and ALP: Pay attention. You are wondering why voters are going for Greens. I’ll tell you why you have been dumped by so many. (Or at least, why you have been dumped by me, or to be precise, never seen as a viable option in the first place):

  1. Asylum Seekers. LNP and ALP have been in a shameful race to the bottom as far as asylum seeker policy goes. As a former Director of Nauru Operations said, the policy of deterrence basically means making detention centres worse than Syria.
    For a brief moment Shorten said he was going to do something humane and then totally backtracked. Appealing to the racist, xenophobic voter and trading in fears is not good leadership. Good leadership is doing the right thing and bringing the country along with you. The solution is simple: Bring Them Here. Also stop bombing Syria.
  2. Climate change. We need to take action on climate change now. It is not that radical to wind down coal stations, but Labour is continuing to support them. Liberals only just got to the point where they actually sort of kind of admit that climate change is actually a thing. Climate change, and environmental management in general is an area where Nationals are losing farmer votes to Greens, because Greens are standing up to mining on farmland, and farmers are some of the first to be affected by climate change.

I agree with Greens policy in other areas over Liberal/Labour (supporting treaty is a big one), but what else matters as much as those two? What kind of country do we want to be? All the health and education Labour is proposing means nothing if we are benefitting from it while refugees are suffering at the hands of the government. And there is no ‘growth and jobs’ on a dead planet.

To adapt an old poem:

First they came for the asylum seekers
And I did not speak out
Because I was not an asylum seeker
Then they came for the Muslims
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Muslim
Then they came for the Indigenous
And I did not speak out
Because I was not Indigenous
Then they came for the gays
And I did not speak out
Because I was not gay
Then they came for me
And there was no one left

 

*Not saying the Labour party and Gillard did the right thing by ousting Rudd. But she supported him and the interests of the party – right up to the point where she didn’t support him. Whereas Rudd undermined Gillard at every chance and spent his whole time just trying to get his job back. Full disclosure, I got this perspective from The Stalking of Julia Gillard, by Kerry-Anne Walsh.

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