This post is part of a series
Election Principle 5 – You don’t just vote for the leader
I was speaking with a mate this afternoon and we were talking about who he should vote for. He told me that although he was on board with things like the mining tax and other policy areas of the Labor government he was drifting towards the conservatives on character grounds. This stance is not exclusively a Christian one. If you have a look at Facebook groups like “Friends don’t let friends vote for Tony Abbott” you find an equal and opposite set of reasons not to vote for Tony on character grounds.
Both Labor and the Coalition have been hammering each others’ leaders in a series of attack and fear spots. Fortunately we’ve entered the media blackout so we’ll be spared some of this hype now.
If you’re thinking about making your decision in this election based on the character of the leader, here are some things to consider:
– You don’t elect the Prime Minister. Unless you’re in the seats of Lalor or Warringah you don’t get to ‘vote’ for Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott. So not only do you not just vote for the leader, you don’t get to vote for the leader. You elect a Member of Parliament who is aligned with a party or coalition of parties. If enough members of that group are elected to the House of Representatives then that party or coalition of parties forms government.
– A lot of the rhetoric surrounding the this election mirrors that of the US style Presidential election where, as I’m sure you are aware, you do get to directly vote for your leader.
– There is no guarantee (constitutional or otherwise) that a party will keep the same leader after the election (as we have seen). Indeed a party may choose to select a new leader after they win the election and before they form government!
So what can the person who wants to vote on character grounds do?
– Vote on the ‘character’ of the party. That is, have a look not just at the leader, but at the whole party and consider whether they are well placed to take Australia in a direction you are comfortable with (taking into account what I’ve already said about so-called ‘moral’ and ‘economic’ issues). I admit it. This is a sneaky way of me telling you to vote on issues rather than character.
– But it would be remiss of me if I didn’t also say it’s worth electing a government that you believe will have the resolve to enact the policies they are promising to, or at least will give you a good reason why not.
– Finally a word on the Christian – Atheist thing. As has been done elsewhere, can I encourage you to remember that all Governments belong to God, regardless of whether the leader recognises it or not. Vote for a party that will establish justice.
This Election101 – Votiquette
So for today’s Election101 I thought I might try a fun little experiment: During the UK election I stumbled across this post, which detailed some useful dos and don’ts for UK voters.
Trouble is, I can’t find anything remotely the same for Australia. So I’m keen to build one – will you help me? What I’m looking for is an answer to as many of the questions below as possible. Here’s how we’re going to do it.
What we need to do is to email the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) firstname.lastname@example.org with one of these questions. I don’t think they’d take it seriously if I sent them an email with all the questions below, but if we all choose 1 question that we like, email them, then when you receive a response, add it to the comments then together we’ll build an awesome Votiquette list for tomorrow’s post.
Incidentally if you know the actual answer to any of these questions tell us all that too!
Here are our questions:
– Can I bring my pets in with me to vote?
– Can I wear political clothing?
– I’m meant to pick up my friend and take him to the polling station but he has been to the pub last night and still looks drunk this morning, can he vote?
– It’s my first time voting. Can I take a photo?
– Can I cover my face with a hoodie or something else?
– Can I wear a giant rosette?
– Can I talk with my spouse about the candidates while voting?
– Can I play my favourite music to inspire me while voting?
– Can I use my “lucky voting pen” instead of the pen provided for me?
– I’ve made a mistake. Can I vote again?
– I’m a bit nervous. Can a friend come and help me?
– Can I bring my children in to show them what happens?
– Can my children fill in the numbers for me?
– Can I write a message to the politicians?
– Can I sign my ballot paper?
– What if there’s a fire while I’m voting at my polling station?
Go for it guys, get emailing otherwise tomorrows “This Election101” section is going to look lame!
Policy area – Closing the Gap
You may have heard talk about the Close the Gap campaign, or seen the bumper stickers, but do you know just how big the gap is between indigenous and non-indigenous lifespan in Australia? 20 years. 20 years!
Probably my favourite question on the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) election site is their question about indigenous welfare. Christians have had a checkered history with Australia’s indigenous people, at times their greatest advocates and at other times acting with compliance to indefensibly evil public policy and even initiating horrendous evil themselves.
However in recent times Christians around the country have worked extremely hard to serve Australia’s first peoples. One of the finest examples of this is in the area of indigenous language preservation. It is Christian Bible translators rather than our governments who are working at preserving the scores of language groups still spoken around the country.
But there is one very significant area where our governments need to be working harder – in indigenous health outcomes.
The Close the Gap coalition, a group of mainly not-for-profit charities, are calling on our Federal, state and territory governments to take action to achieve Indigenous health equality within 25 years by:
- Increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ access to health services
- Addressing critical social issues such as poor housing, nutrition, employment and education
- Building Indigenous control and participation in the delivery of health and other services
- Getting governments at state and national level to work in partnership with Indigenous communities and Indigenous health organisations and experts to develop and monitor a plan to tackle the Indigenous health crisis
I think these are fabulous goals, and ones that we are going to need to keep the pressure on governments to provide on. Labor hacks might be able to help me here – I know Rudd promised an indigenous health report card, is that the policy of a Gillard government too?
What can you do?
Have a look at the ACL page and preference parties that look like they are going to do something for indigenous health.
Come back tomorrow for the epic conclusion to this Election 2010 series.