Politics is a subject that can be divisive, argumentative, enraging and disillusioned. It can also be enlightening, powerful, exciting and inclusive. I guess it depends on who is doing the talking, whether either side is listening and what the end result is.
Having grown up in a politically minded household, I was taught from a very young age to read, converse and study all things political. This helped to broaden my mind and allowed me to contribute to society by placing a well informed and reasoned vote into the ballot box at each and every election.
I have worked in retail Management in the past and quite a few of my staff were juniors. Some became eligible to vote while working for me. The different methods they had for choosing who to place their trust in for their future were interesting and occasionally truly terrifying. I had one staff member who voted for Pauline Hanson because she 'liked her smile in the photo'. I had one who voted for Charlie Rappolt because 'his surname was cool'. Another voted for Mark Latham because 'He looks like he'd punch out anyone who tried to mess with Australia'.....and the list goes on.
All votes they placed in the Ballot Box were valid and each counted toward the end results. They had no interest in politics and resented the waste of time spent on a Saturday every few years voting.
As time goes by I am noticing more and more young people are politically aware and become active in their community by choice. Usually it is born out of a desire to change the world, whichever side of the political spectrum they find themselves on. Frequently I find myself having complex conversations with strangers at functions, dinner parties and in unusual places where politics have never been before.
Yesterday I had a half hour conversation with someone in the Newsagent which started over the decision to move printing of The Cairns Post to Townsville on Saturdays. We were having a frank dissemination of the pro's and cons of the move (more cons than pros as it was deemed ugly, magazine like, took too long to get there resulting in many phone calls from disgruntled residents waiting at 10 am for their paper delivery....and the list goes on.) but it soon became a Climate Change, unemployment, future of the region conversation.
Where residents were once happy to place their heads in the sand and throw a vote away, they now want their vote to count. If you speak to every person from the region and ask them what they would like changed you will get a varied response. Some want the Precinct mothballed, some want it started today. Some want Climate Change recognised as a myth, others want it dealt with but not with a tax and then there are those who think the Government hasn't gone far enough. On every subject that is out there in the public domain, the 50/50 opinion is prevalent.
If an election was held today (Federally) the Coalition would win. After a small period of time people would begin to realise that Abbott and his party members don't represent them either. The Greens don't. The ALP certainly doesn't and the Independents are now seen as the most fickle of the lot.
Right now, our Federal Parliament is also complicated. We have a minority Government in coalition with the Greens and a few Independents. When the election first occurred I stated that the result was exactly indicative of public opinion. As far as I'm concerned, it still is. While many complain about Gillard and her ties to the Green Party, not many are stating that Abbott is a viable alternative.
If Abbott does indeed win the next election and a double dissolution comes about as the Senate will remain fairly Green, the vote will no doubt head back to where it is now.
Lets say that the last election had resulted in a minority Government with Abbott leading the lot. Do you imagine that he would be a better negotiator than Gillard? Do you think that the country would have passed a single bill? He has admitted that he will force a vote if the Coalition win and they are blocked from removing the Carbon Tax. On other issues he has also stated that he would not budge from his current stance. He has a sitting member in Malcolm Turnbull who is refusing to answer questions on his personal opinion of the Carbon Bill and I am sure there are others who also know that the Abbott plan for our climate is unworkable. Scientists and economists agree. According to him, that makes them idiots and speaks to the standard of our scientists and economists. Apparently, he can't be wrong....ever.
I can't pretend not to be bias in this issue. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be witness to the Carbon Tax implementation and wish it had been done sooner. I also refuse to lay any claim on Julia Gillard's doorstep for this bill. If she had won the election with a clear majority, this bill would not exist. It's only with forced collaboration that it came about.
Australia wanted a collaborative Government. They wanted each party to have a say in our future. They wanted the vote to exactly indicate what is happening in society. Equally conservative and liberal, a bit green and a bit independent. That's how the public voted and that's what they got. The next election is a little way off but you can already feel the electioneering beginning and I can guarantee you this, whatever the outcome of the next election, it won't be what the people actually want. They already have that, it's just that they hadn't realised what it would mean. It's complicated.