My household this morning was filled with shocked expressions from the adults and confused little faces from the kids. My children have no idea why mum keeps saying things like..."Oh My God!!" and "What about the Cultural Precinct and my GP Superclinic?". I was quite honestly shocked by the result of last nights election and could not believe my eyes when I realised that a hung parliament was a likely outcome.
After much fear and angst I decided it was time to pull myself together and be rational about the whole thing. As someone else said....always look on the bright side of life. I made the decision to look on the honest one.
The Labor Party and the Liberal Party were both offering a bland and boring Government with navy pin-striped leaders. They were both relying on the opposite side to stuff up and fall down in some spectacular way, and neither did.
The fear campaign run by the Labor Party fairly obviously did not work, and why would it? Labor have never been any good at running a negative campaign, they have always succeeded when they asked Australians to make an emotional decision at the ballot box. There was little, or no emotion this time round.
Labor needed to tell people what a difference voting for them would make in terms that make us connect on some level with each issue personally. They told us that the NBN would make our lives better because it would give us speeds up to 1TBps. That makes absolutely no sense to most of us unless you are a 'tech-head' and considering the way the vote went it appears more Australians are like Tony than the Labor Party thought. They should have focussed on the fact that it would allow teachers to teach a School of the Air class in 'real' time. It would give those living in rural areas better access to doctors via the computer allowing more residents the opportunity to stay at home or return home from hospital earlier than they currently can. This would free up beds and allow for better quality of care for those living remotely. It would open up our Australian University's to the world. It would enable us to not just compete internationally, but more importantly, to collaborate, with University's, businesses, Governments and scientists. It would make our small country a partner in progress rather than an observer. It would encourage new ideas, new possibilities and help in the fight against climate change, cancer, swine flu, poverty, pretty much anything you can imagine, because by working together as an entire community, the world can affect real change. The Broadband Network forcast by the Labor Government was the only way to do any of those things and the entire population should have been told that.
The fact that people voted Green in droves must indicate to the Labor Party that climate change and gay marriage are much bigger issues with high levels of support than they predicted and must be looked at closely. Climate Change Policy should never have been put on the backburner, it should be fought for until there is a clear result and it should then be implemented immediately. Gay marriage is almost a stupid argument. Why is it necessary to deny an entire group of people the rights we all have because part of the population thinks their lifestyle is abhorrent? If you don't like the idea of homosexuality, stay heterosexual. Is it my right to choose for them? No. As they now have the same legal rights as other defacto couples in Australia, the only thing a Marriage Certificate will give them is the public validation by family,friends and Government in the form of a ceremony and a piece of paper. For God's sakes, give it to them. It costs nothing, it changes nothing for the rest of us, but it gives equality to a portion of the Australian population who deserve it.
Locally, I should have been told more about the Green Zones. Don't tell me you will close parts of the reef for conservation reasons, tell me which bits I can still access. Don't tell me it's better for the environment, tell me where exactly I can still throw in a line and catch some fresh dinner for the family. I don't want to fish until the ocean runs out, I don't even like fishing, but those who love to throw in a line, should have been told precisely what they COULD still do, NOT what they couldn't.
Australians vote emotionally, they get enthusiastic, angry, frustrated and excited. Show them that the Financial Crisis was avoided by the stimulus package, not by experts, by comparing the numbers. How many businesses closed in the US or UK during the past 2 years? How many houses did the banks take in those countries? How many of those people joined the dole queue? Now tell me how many Australians suffered the same fates? Relate it to ME. Make it MY issue. Make me glad I have my house, my job and my health. Make me thrilled that my Super only lost 30 percent and I didn't lose the lot. If the 'experts' are right, I should be ecstatic with the outcome, all due to the stimulus spending. Why didn't you tell me that?
When did the Labor Party become a party that would not take risks, would not explain things clearly and was frightened of itself? When did they decide that it was better to do nothing and look like they were united as a party, than to argue the point and do what they were elected to do, make changes in Australia for the better? When did it come down to a choice between stability and stability and nothing to do with the grand visions and fantastic ideals for our future?
The Labor Party needs to get back to doing what it does best. Create passion and enthusiasm in our nation. Make Australians proud and excited again. Give Australians an alternative to the Liberals and make it a clear choice, not a muddy, vague one. The policies were there, the storytelling wasn't.
Labor has suffered a huge loss at this election. Even if they manage to govern with a minority Government, they have to contend with a hostile Senate and a balance of power that is far left and far right, all at the same time. Challenging to say the least. I wish Julia all the luck in the world with that one.
Regardless of the outcome, whether Julia gets the numbers, or Tony does, the Labor Party has to make some huge changes. Not to people, there has been more than enough of that, but to it's ideals and it's foundation principles. If there is such a thing as Labor 'school', then all elected members need a refresher course. Labor used to stand for workers rights (including the right of access that Unions no longer enjoy), social structures in health, education and the unemployed. They used to stand up for people's right to have options. We should have access to both Private and Public schools and hospitals, the right to marry the one we love, the right to choose whether we would like to be a stay at home mum, a working mum or not a mum at all. Access to University should be open to all as well as the option to gain trade or TAFE qualifications. It's all about having the options and the choices available to be whoever and whatever we like. It's about being excited for the future because of all the opportunities out there and it's about knowing that my children will continue to have the opportunities afforded me, when they grow up in Australia.