Thursday, August 19, 2010

Musings on the federal election from a time poor parent

I have been having momentary pangs of guilt about how little proper thought I have given the federal election parties/policies/candidates. I am very charitably blaming Little E, whose latest sleep saga has taken up much of my recent energy and attention. On the significance of voting, see my clever cousin’s blog:
David and I are silent postal voters due to the risk of some unhappy client/accused person getting our details off the electoral roll and coming a-calling.  We got our ballots in the mail about two weeks ago, and until today, mine sat unopened on the bench. However, this morning I woke up to a beautifully clean kitchen and living room (thank you lovely husband!) And I finally buried the two bags of vegie scraps that have been sitting on the bench for about as long as my unopened vote paper. So, I decided to use the remaining half hour or so of Little E’s morning nap to finally open the envelope and do a bit of googling and other research.*
We live in the safe Liberal seat of Curtin, which Julie Bishop has held since 1998. She currently holds it with a margin of 13.3 percent. Despite being named after the former Labor Prime Minister, the ALP has never won the seat. In fact, the only time that the Liberal Party lost it was in 1996, to Allan Rocher. This was quite an exciting story, and an interesting one in terms of party vs individual politics, in that Rocher held the seat as a member of the Liberal Party since 1981. In 1996 the party dumped him, instead pre-selecting Ken Court (brother of Richard Court, WA’s Premier of the day.) Rocher stood as an independent, and, seemingly in retaliation against favouritism and party politics, the voters of Curtin re-elected the person who had represented them for the past 15 years. They then turfed him in 1998 in favour of Julie Bishop, she of blonde hair and little brains, about whom the least said the better.
Anyway, my round-about point is that Curtin is such a safe seat that I feel that my House of Representatives vote matters very little. I do care more about my Senate vote. I have always considered the Senate’s true role to be as a house of review. Despite the founders’ intention for it to be a “State’s house” I have never felt that this is an important role for it to be play.  [Aside: I wonder how many Western Australians share this view? I was surprised and somewhat amused to discover, when we moved to Perth in 1994, that Western Australians refer to the rest of the country as “the Eastern states.” When I bring this up, born-and-bred Western Australians are surprised to find that this is a uniquely WA expression (although I think it’s not surprising that the rest of the country doesn’t lump itself together as “the Eastern states!”)]
Anyhow, given the set up of the House of Representatives as the house of government, no proper debate or consideration of legislation is going to happen there. If there is any hope of this occurring, it has to be in the Senate, particularly in the Senate’s committee system. For proper debate to occur, it’s integral that the government does not also control the Senate.
So I tend to consider my Senate vote as a vote for diversity. That being said, I’m not so in favour of diversity that I would be happy to be represented by all the kinds of it on offer. Take, for example, WA Senate candidate Paddy Embry. According to font-of-all-knowledge Wikipedia:
Patrick "Paddy" Embry (born 19 October 1942) is a former Australian politician. Born in Oundle in the United Kingdom, he arrived in Australia in December 1956 and became a farmer. In 2001, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council for South West Region, representing One Nation. On 15 May 2003, he resigned from One Nation to sit as an independent. He co-founded the New Country Party with fellow ex-One Nation independent Frank Hough on 30 November 2004. Embry was defeated in 2005 and left politics.”
According to an advertisement that he ran in yesterday’s West Australian, Paddy Embry says:
"Do you support Muslim immigration? When you invite a Muslim to live in Australia you're actually inviting two people, the Muslim and Allah. One who will live here, the other who won't let the Muslim integrate."**
David’s apt observation when I emailed him in outrage was: “I love that he is an immigrant. That seems to happen all too often; the people who should know best are the worst of all.”

Given I am going to go to the trouble of numbering all 55 boxes below the line, it’s nice to know where I’ll be placing him! That being said, there is a very interesting piece on the election/politics blog The Tally Room about the futility of campaigns to get voters to put particular individuals last on their Senate ballots (sparked by the campaign to get Victorian voters to vote below the line and put Stephen Conroy last.)

*For some reason Little E then stayed asleep for an unheard of further 90 minutes, enabling research plus half of this post! She then woke up starving and I exercised my one handed typing skills to finish it.
** This isn’t a verbatim recitation of the ad as I don’t have the paper to hand, but it’s pretty close.


_vTg_ said...

Fascinating post- so much to comment on!

First- "The Eastern States" doesn't surprise me after living on the other side of Bass Strait from "The Mainland"! Do people in Darwin talk about "Down South"? I once heard a Sydneysider talk about "The Mexicans", ie the Victorians, south of the border...

Interesting about the significance of voting last- I also reserve my last spot for the most repugnant out of personal satisfaction if nothing else! Also, if everyone did that then Family First and the CDP wouldn't fluke it into a seat- a last vote will never ever support them!

As for Julie Bishop... she is scary, not so much for her looks as her apparent huge power within the party, remaining deputy while the leaders fell...

A sudden thought: does being a parent change how you vote?

Now, on the vegie scraps- do you compost directly into the ground? I have been thinking about and experimenting with this...

ANB said...

I particularly dislike Julie Bishop because she was a lawyer before she was a politician and so, at least as far as most of her law and order policy goes, fits into the "she should know better" category.
Being a parent hasn't yet changed how I vote, although not spending all day in a job involving reading and writing has given me more inclination and enthusiasm, although not more time, to think about it!
Vegie scraps - I have been digging straight into the ground but have only just started doing so recently after I read something in the paper that said you could. The stuff I dug in a fortnight ago has disappeared already. We are contemplating a worm farm and I will be interested to see how it compares.

_vTg_ said...

Interesting on JB!

As for the worms- if digging in the ground is working then I wouldn't bother with a worm farm, at least until Eli might be interested in it. We have one and it's temperamental- if you feed them too fast it gets smelly, they don't like citrus and onions, they slow down in winter, they die in hot weather and cost $30 to replace, and despite my best efforts redbacks, slugs, fruit flies and ants take up residence..........
I'm trying to work out what to do- they way our garden is we don't have a good space for a compost bin that is out of sight and smell (hence the worm farm) and our compostable material is mostly kitchen scraps (again hence the worm farm) so digging it into the ground is appealing.

Katherine said...

I am in N Queensland at present and down South is their version. I enjoyed your election thoughts and as a constituent of Denison, a "safe" seat which needed a 15% swing I can say never give up.
We had quite a few front runners for bottom of the senate vote too but none quite as enjoyable as yours

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