Yesterday morning, Clara walked with me to vote in the Australian Federal Election. Making my way past the huge Liberal umbrella stand, I accepted the “how to vote” pamphlets from the Greens and Labor volunteers, then hurried inside. It was my first election voting in a suburban polling centre, and my first attempt at voting below the line.
In the past, it seemed so unlikely that John Howard’s former protégé would become Prime Minister, but in the last few months it felt all but inevitable. Yesterday,
Tony Abbott swept into power in the House of Reps with a pretty convincing margin.
For progressive causes, its hard to overstate how deeply troubling this is. The far-right Mr. Abbott has made no secret his lack of respect for women, LGBTs, refugees, science and the environment. In my industry, he’s fine with letting Australia slip further into global IT irrelevance with his woeful infrastructure plans. I won’t mince words, I find him morally despicable.
I’m tempted to say Labor brought this upon themselves with their infighting and that they deserve it. Certainly their childish antics must have seemed like a gift from God to the shameless, mouth-frothing Murdoch press. Still, even if Labor were cohesive and delivered even more good for Australia during their time in government, the Tele and such would have just focused on something else. It’s amazing what people do and don’t understand when their pay check depends on it.
Personally, I’m feeling most nervous about Mr. Abbott’s policies towards Asia. After Paul Keating’s progressive stance towards Asian relations (other than with Dr. Mahatir, that was pretty funny), being an Australian living in Singapore during Mr. Howard’s reign was pretty brutal. Well, not as brutal as when some Australians took Pauline Hanson seriously; at her peak I was telling taxi drivers there I was British.
I hope Labor takes this opportunity to refactor. I reckon Anthony Albanese should be the new opposition leader, but that’s just me. What better way to counterbalance American-style far-right policies than the NSW head of Labor’s Federal Socialist Left? :)