Get some fucking PERSPECTIVE Australia.
Consider these things that happen in countries around the world:
- People die for the right to vote
- People walk for two or three days in order to reach a polling booth
- People die while they are voting
- People vote even though they know that the results will be tampered with and the same old dictator will retain power
- People get killed in countries where they have no say over who rules them
- People get tortured to admit who they voted for and then get killed by mercenaries or militia.
Then we have Australia:
- You whinge about compulsory voting so loudly one would think you were being tortured
- You will walk or drive for two or three minutes to reach a polling booth
- You buy sausage sizzle and lattes while you’re voting
- Your election results are scrutineered and recounted and you’re 99.999999999 per cent sure the results are not tampered with
- You get harrassed by people running things called ‘exit polls’ to admit who you voted for
- You have every say over who runs the country, and if you don’t like it, there’s nothing stopping you from running.
So let’s just reflect for a minute… How fucking lucky are we? We get to VOTE. In a proper, non-corrupt DEMOCRACY.
Oh except you wouldn’t think that any of you realised how fucking LUCKY you are by the flurry of complaints that emerged yesterday when the PM announced that the 2013 election would be on Saturday 14 September. Yom Kippur. Many tweets ensued. News websites went mad. Interesting course for the story to take indeed.
But what REALLY got me was when someone tweeted that the PM, who has recently become A Friend Of The Bloggers, should know better than to schedule an election on the same day as one of the (mildly sycophantic, potentially cliquey?) blogger seminars that occur on a regular basis.
(I am not naming as I like the tweeter and she also claimed that her tweet was said in jest. But still, it was out there and demonstrated the tone of many tweets floating around yesterday.)
My initial reaction: WTAFF? Who cares if you’re at a conference in Melbourne or Sydney or wherever it happens to be held? If you can take the time to register for a seminar and book flights and a hotel, you can take the time organise a postal/absentee vote. You’ve got eight months to organise it.
Yes, that’s right. If the date of the election – EIGHT MONTHS FROM NOW – is that much of an issue, then that’s the beauty of living in a democracy isn’t it? You can vote the government out. You can tweet out your frustrations. You can write letters to your local member and letters to the local paper. You can organise a rally for god’s sake, just to let people know how upset you are. And you can do so in the knowledge that no one will shoot you. Shoo you, maybe, but not shoot.
I live in Timor at the moment. What people went through here in order to merely register to vote in the UN sanctioned referrendum for autonomy vs independence, and what they subsequently went through when Indonesia withdrew from the country (google Scorched Earth if you’re not sure) has given me perspective.
I lived in Ukraine for almost three years. In that time, government was only formed for maybe ten months because of corruption, outside intervention in politics, and an inability for form sufficient coalitions. Since I’ve left, the former Prime Minister has been jailed – supposedly for decisions she made when she was in government, but more likely because some very rich and powerful people don’t like her.
Do you all realise how lucky you are? DO YOU REALLY? Who cares if you HAVE to vote? I’ve voted in about seven different cities in my life and walked to the polling booth every time. I’ve never waited longer than five minutes to vote. I can wait longer for a coffee on a Saturday morning than it takes to vote.
It’s so ironic that in Australia we still joke about whinging poms, when honestly and truly I think Australians have a bloody good go at whinging too (myself included, ref. this entire post).
I don’t know what to leave you with, but here’s a thought – turn on SBS news at 6.30pm or, for those with Foxtel/Austar, switch on Al Jazeera anytime and you’ll see the horrible things that happen in the rest of the world and compulsory voting on a holy day when a bloggers conference is scheduled, in a country that will let you boot out the government if it really offends you that much, will be the least of your worries.
PS I am a Catholic and it would not bother me in the slightest to vote on Good Friday. Or Christmas. Because I feel privileged to have the right to vote.
This post was inspired by the first paragraph of this article by John Birmingham. I haven’t gotten around to reading the whole thing yet.