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The Ritual Suicide

Watching Australian politics of late is like watching ritual suicide: it's slow, detailed, and ends painfully.

Not so long ago, the Labor Government's ridiculous plan to process asylum seekers offshore, while taking in four thousand already processed applications from Malaysia, was ruled to be illegal by the courts. Despite public dislike of the plan, the Government decided, hey, what the fuck, we'll just change the law. As with any time that a Government has tried to change a law to suit their purposes, it hasn't gone so well in the polls, but ignoring anything slightly popular in relation to this topic is nothing new. However, the rest of us have been forced to watch the farce of the Labor Government trying to get a bill passed through the House of Representatives, only to be defeated later on. Or so we're told, anyhow. I wouldn't even blink in surprise if the Coalition turned around and supported it, given that such a change in law will allow their own bad plan of offshore processing to become legal.

The above example is just one, sadly, in the many painful things that anyone paying attention to local politics are being forced to watch. Labor, slowly eating itself alive through corruption and the conflict between the left and right sides of their party, is in danger of going the way of the Democrats--and sudden pushes by the left side of the party to recruit new people, for example, show that they realise it as well. But then, for the left of Labor, it's either build their support base, erode from the right that has seen the party become more and more like the Coalition, and leave a lot of its working class roots behind, or die. Or, you know, listen to another story claiming the Return of Kevin Rudd. I don't even know if that's worse than watching Tony Abbott walk around like his already Prime Minister, or just as bad. Not that I have anything against Rudd (or the current Prime Minister, Julia Gilliard), but Rudd would have to be slowly inching that ritual sword to his wrists if he thought he should try and mount a comeback--and everyone who talks about it from inside the party must be preparing their political Kool Aid, really.

In the States, I have been watching the Occupy Movement. It's been interesting to watch, and to try and imagine such a thing happening here--though what comes across whenever I think of it is a huge amount of apathy, of one that defeats even the desire to be disgusted by it. It's such a rotten political system, corrupted at the very base where people get involved in it, that one can't really escape the notion that it would all be a lot better if we just picked up the nation and moved it one block over, and had a whole new government, one based on, I dunno, the I Ching or something equally unrealistic.

I have, for a long time, been against the way things are done politically in this country. Preferences, mandatory voting, treatment of immigrations, the issue of a Republic, only vaguely resembling a democracy in any way shape or form... but this is the first time where, really, every time I hear about politics happening in Australia, I think, 'It's time to open a bar in a place where no one will ever go, and write books while taking up serious drinking.'

Comments

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strangedave
Oct. 11th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Really? You actually think preferential voting is a bad idea? Or mandatory voting?

I'm honestly more than a little bit surprised. I really am surprised to find someone familiar with preferential voting who thinks that first past the post ballots are a better idea.

There is definitely something wrong with Australian politics at the moment (personally, I think a lot of the problem lies with the press, though also political culture in the two main parties), but I don't think preferential voting has much to do with it.
benpeek
Oct. 11th, 2011 10:59 pm (UTC)
yeah, man, i've always thought the idea of preferential voting and mandatory voting went against the idea of a democracy. to each their own, though, i guess.

i don't think you're wrong about the media, either, mind you.

strangedave
Oct. 12th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
Mandatory voting, well, I guess there are arguments both ways. But I far prefer the Australian experience (in which parties compete for swinging moderates) to the US (in which parties try to motivate voters by extremist characterisations of the issues).

One the preferential vote issue, though, there is pretty much no way I can see in which a simple highest vote count system is a better idea (other than being easier to count) in a single candidate election. It pretty much completely locks out third parties from meaningful, useful, participation in the process, and thus poorly represents the views of anyone who doesn't support one of the two major parties in their area.
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