Avoiding the lunatic fringe

The Australian political system is far from perfect. We have made an art form out of humiliation and ill treatment of refugees that choose to come to Australia. We have sat on our hands for over a decade and chosen to have an argument about emissions reduction while observing that we seem to be having more ‘one off’ climatic events than ever. We have a number of examples of ‘pork barrelling’ when politicians have chosen to ignore the aspirations and rights of the majority while promoting the minority — who will in turn probably vote for the political party that ‘assisted’ them.

It’s all pretty depressing really. It’s still the case that Prime Minister Albanese can’t fix everything overnight — although he seems to be working hard to reverse the absolute contempt other countries and their leaders had for Morrison and by implication Australia. It’s also a sad reflection on the state of the federal government in Australia that Albanese won’t be able to rectify all the problems he inherited in a short timeframe.

Not that the LNP have understood the mood of the Australian voters yet. We have a Liberal Party Senator, delivering a speech that is theoretically discussing why the LNP lost the election claiming
one of the issues … [is] we’ve got an education system that’s basically run by Marxists”.
“When kids are at school and they’re being taught all this absolute leftwing rubbish, that’s where they’re leaving school and that’s where they’re landing,
Given there is a significant number of Australians that earn their salary by teaching, it’s likely that one or two of them do subscribe to a Marxist view of how society should be run. But it is also likely that the majority of teachers are more worried about how to fit the latest edict from head office into the overloaded curriculum while paying attention to the student in the classroom that is failing due to circumstances external to the school, while getting all the marking done, the lesson planning for next term, paying the mortgage or rent and having some form of family and social life, than worrying about how to fit a particular ideology into their teaching time. Name-calling, such as ‘Marxist’ or ‘woke’ is a common ultra-conservative rallying cry with absolutely no definition of what the term means or evidence produced by those who participate.

If the last election taught us anything, it was that most Australians wanted a more realistic response on transparency and emissions reduction. The ALP, Greens and most independents campaigned on this and between them won around two thirds of the first preference vote. Opposition Leader Dutton decides that doubling down on the former government’s policy is the correct response by throwing the nuclear energy ‘dead cat’ into the discussion to attempt to divert attention from the former government’s decade of inaction. While Dutton seems to be at least considering a ‘federal ICAC’ with teeth, it seems it’s difficult for Dutton and his fellow conservatives to connect the dots between their ideology on a number of issues and their failure at the election.

While it may be depressing, it could be worse. Fortunately in Australia, those that drafted the Constitution put something in the document that has saved us from the lunacy in the USA where the legal protection for abortions has recently been removed, even in the case of rape or incest. Apparently the problem is abortion breaches ‘Thou shalt not kill’, a biblical commandment, at least in the minds of predominately conservative white male Christians. Yet it seems to be perfectly reasonable that someone in the US can have the status symbol of a military grade assault rifle capable of killing a considerable number of people in seconds should the owner use the weapon as intended.

It’s just as crazy on the other side of the Atlantic where a group of politicians can derail the prosperity of an entire nation by using the conservatives ‘small government’ agenda as reported by The Guardian
Sectors from fishing to aviation, farming to science report being bogged down in red tape, struggling to recruit staff and racking up losses for the first time.
“Brexit’ was so unsuccessful that the Scottish Parliament is calling for a second Independence Referendum partly based on the fundamental change in the UK from the last referendum in 2014. The ‘small government’ agenda has been a failure from the days of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher — Morrison was heading down the same path with his ‘deskilling’ of the Australian Public Service.

Arguably there are just as many nutcases in Australia that hold lunatic fringe values on certain subjects as anywhere else in the world. The Senator who claims teachers are Marxists (when the Australian school curriculum is actually set by the state and federal governments) could be considered one of them. So could Dutton as it is clearly evident that the Australian population of voting age have told him the agenda being promoted by the Coalition parties is not acceptable. The Australian Constitution is different to the USA or the UK as we have compulsory voting, and the risk of a fine for ‘giving it a miss’ is incentive for to most to at least ‘go through the motions’.

While we go through the motions, we also make our opinions known. In the USA and UK, campaigns are run to bring out the voters — those that feel they can’t affect the result are likely to stay away, which skews the result. Next time around after the election of, say a divisive President or a Prime Minister that doesn’t follow his own laws, the level of distrust and disaffection grows, making it easier for those with agendas to further skew the vote. You can fool some of the people some of the time — but it is far easier to fool a majority of the voters when those that feel disenfranchised choose not to have a say, something that doesn’t happen in Australia.

We might really be at the Polling Booth to get it out of the way on the way to the Democracy Sausage stand or beating the rest of the local population to Mrs Brown’s rather excellent chocolate fudge at the cake stall outside, but at least most of us have a say. If nothing else, it ensures fringe opinions of the lunatics from both the progressive and conservative sides stay on the fringe. Our system is not perfect, but there are certainly advantages in compulsory voting.

What do you think?

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Phil Pryor


There's more brains in the photo of the sausage than in Morrison's shitskulled cranial blackhole.

T-w-o take away o-n-e equals?