This Saturday, Australia votes between neoliberalism and survival. I’m not sure this has ever happened in Australia before. Perhaps the closest we came was in 1899 when the rich white men decided to federate, yet that was a choice of keeping Australia’s wealth within their grasp rather than a point of survival.
The National, Liberal and Labo(u)r parties, and their spawn such as Palmer and Hanson, represent a continuing dive into a cesspool of growing wealth for the rich, vilification of the poor, and worsening climate disasters. These groups of people have powerful and international vested interests in using tax revenue to subsidise private companies, expanding the wealth divide, extending authoritarianism, and demonising regulation and social welfare. The majority of them also have strong Christian affiliations.
One the other hand, we have a strong socialist party in the Greens and a plethora of independent representatives who wish to create a free market, meaning no more tax breaks or subsidies to billionaires and private companies, who are determined to reduce CO2 emissions, and ensure all citizens enjoy a standard of living above the poverty line. We can easily afford it. They are also deeply invested in creating anticorruption in government commissions to ensure the malfeasance of the Liberal-National coalition never occurs again.
The Labo(u)r party used to be our socialist party and ensured our taxes went back into public services, but whenever the Lib-Nats dismantled some part of our social safety net, Labo(u)r never put it back. Now that all three receive corporate funding and have proven they put international company profits before citizen welfare, Lib-Lab operates as one tool.
So, Australians, who over the past 20 years have opted for irresponsible governments which repeatedly broke promises, who have chosen large 4x4s and SUVs, who have allowed American influences into universities, entertainment, government and even their accents when speaking, have a choice between the rocket of the wealthy which every year recedes further into the heavens, and the bitter reality that climate disaster is worsening and Lib-Lab is disinterested in both stopping more of the same and of helping citizens in trouble.
What is the fulcrum here?
The banal anxiety of disinterested Australians is confronted with this choice: getting more money to get ahead now, or, invest money now to ensure our kids have somewhere to live. The fulcrum seems to be perspective: I expect that many believe they have enough wealth now to ensure their loved ones will be in good stead over the coming decades and these are the people who will vote Lib-Lab. I believe those who are ignorant of the world around them, deliberately or otherwise, will do same.
Over the past few years, there is a growing section of Australian society determined to face the causes of climate disaster: one of these is our own government. The rich, white, wealthy males, racist, homophobic and misogynistic, who went to private Christian schools and look forward to well-paid jobs in mining companies after they get bored of politics, are the core threat to habitation in many towns and cities.
I imagine a great many people are weighing up the choice between Lib-Lab and the Greens in terms of profit and loss, and many will choose Lib-Lab as those parties offer on-going profit enhancement. Labo(u)r offers a certain degree of guilt-amelioration and this may sway the vote away from Lib-Nat, but there will be no promise kept by this failure of a party. They will continue the farce of carbon credits while CO2 emissions continue increasing. Unless of course we have a hung parliament.
One thing Australia got right was preferential voting: by voting for the party we want most first, and the second most wanted party second and so on, we ensure that each of us has our first preference counted. In underdeveloped nations like the US and the UK, only the party with the most votes wins: there is no voice given to diversity in those countries. What is likely to happen as a result of this election is that enough people will vote Greens and independents with their first preference. This means that no party will have a majority. This means all parties must negotiate prior to taking action, as opposed to one party passing bills devoid of conscience.
A hung parliament is not like a man hung from a tree, it is like a hung ardent lover who gets the job done: he injects our political narrative with democracy. The last time we had a hung parliament, the Greens forced Labo(u)r to enact policy which brought CO2 emissions down. I imagine this is likely to happen again, amid an incessant scare campaign spewing from every Murdoch media channel and newspaper across the country for the next few years. Perhaps this is the fulcrum where Australia pivots away from ignorance and indifference and accepts the brutal challenges of climate disaster head on.