Saturday, 17 August 2013

Vote one for the uninspired

Let's face it, regardless of your political persuasion this election is shaping up to be as inspiring and exciting as the bag salad I had for dinner last night.

And the dull mediocrity is not just limited to one party.

We've got the resurrected Kevin Rudd and recycled Peter Beattie for Labor (was Gough Whitlam not available?), and in the Liberal corner is Tony Abbott still desperately trying to convince us he respects women, while simultaneously trying to will Australia back to the 1950s.

I find my fingers involuntarily changing the television channel at the slightest whiff of a political ad.  I'm finding refuge in the home shopping channel so often now that if the election campaign goes on too much longer I'm going to end up buying three vacuum robots and a cross trainer.

Speaking with some friends recently it seems we're all in the same boat (only we hope this one isn't being re-routed to PNG).  We've found ourselves wondering exactly when Australian political leaders became so horrible.   Have their attempts to be "everything to everyone" resulted in them being nothing to anyone?

Shouldn't we be excited by the upcoming election and the prospect of selecting a government that will shape Australia for the next few years?   At this rate, the only reason to wander to the local booth on election day seems to be the prospect of a decent sausage sizzle.

Like most others, I just don't like being lied to.  I'd like to see election campaign material forced to undergo the same scrutiny and research as legal or financial documents.   And if they were found to be misleading or incorrect, the party is penalised.  I'm sure that would free up my letterbox for more interesting mail, like phone bills.  

Even better, perhaps each party could submit a legally-binding tender outlining their complete offering, timeframes and pricing, just like we do in the corporate world.  Granted, this would set a dangerous expectation that parties needed to deliver on their promises.

This general apathy also seems to have created a curious desire to "reverse vote" on election day.   This strategy doesn't involve voting for the political party you think is best for the country, but rather picking the one you're least repulsed by.  And let's be honest, it's a pretty even race for the bottom.

Casting my eye across the candidates in my electorate it seems I can't even rely on the Australian Sex Party or Pirate Party to spice up my 7 September.  Instead, I've just got candidates from Labor, Liberal and The Greens, along with those from the Palmer United Party and Australian Stable Population Party (Whatever the hell that is.  Doesn't sound racist at all).

I tried the ABC's Vote Compass website application to see what it thought I should do.  I was buoyed by the insightful questions and no-nonsense approach to determining my vote, but was dismayed when I ended up smack bang on the fence between Liberal and Labor.  Apparently I not only dislike both parties, but dislike them with equal measure.

Not that I'm suggesting that Australia's electoral process should mirror the theatrics and extravagant expense of America's presidential election campaigns, but sometimes watching Americans screaming and shouting with passion for their leader makes me wonder what I'm missing out on.   I suspect I'll never come across an Australian political leader that will make me wave a coloured balloon in their direction let alone make me spontaneously burst into tears of joy when they enter the room.

With three weeks to go I guess there's always a chance that someone might emerge from the quagmire to inspire and delight us with a clear vision and sensible and sustainable policies for a fair and mature Australia.

Of course, I've probably more chance of finding Harold Holt in my next bag salad.

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