I’ve just realised what the difference is between politics the way I used to know it, and Australian politics – it’s quite simple, really.
But first, let’s go back a few years and use a history lesson to explain what I mean.
In South Africa, during the evil apartheid years when whites ruled with western efficiency and an iron fist, there was a semi-democratic system. All white people were allowed to vote. There were a lot of options to vote for: some parties were conservative, some were ultra-conservative, and then there were the hyper-ultra-rightwing conservatives. Then there also were a few left-wing do-gooders and the communists, who were banned from participating in politics.
The National Party won every election until white rule ended in 1994.
Then came the new system – the communists were unbanned, the lefties were considered cool, and the conservatives were considered to be from an ancient genetic pool of retards.
The National Party realised it had a bad name now, and they changed their name to the “New National Party”. This, of course, made no difference in the minds of people as to who they were and what they stood for, and they never gained a real foothold in the new political scene. I don’t think they even exist anymore.
To get back to the point: When the election came on, everyone knew exactly what each party stood for. In order to determine your choice, you looked at a party’s policies and made a decision who to vote for, based on their leaders, policies and viewpoints on social and financial matters. (And, of course, based on your ethnic background.)
In modern-day Australia, however, the political party decides what it stands for based on last week’s opinion polls. It’s nearly impossible to distinguish the difference between the two main parties, as they both try to adapt to what is accepted as “popular opinion” of the day. The one who gets this wrong loses the election. As simple as that.
The previous Prime Minister was bounced from his job due to the Labor party sliding in the opinion polls. Imagine that. Kevin Rudd wasn’t caught with his pants down or his hand in the till, or molesting children or watching porn on the PM’s laptop. He was just not popular enough anymore. So they got rid of him and appointed a redheaded woman in his place in order to win over the female vote. (Ironically, Rudd was recorded as the most popular PM in Australian history just a year before this happened.)
This is really confusing to dumb immigrants, like me. I always thought political parties stood for something they believe in, and then try to market themselves based on those beliefs. They convince people that what they stand for is what people need, and people base their votes on that?
The only party that clearly stands for something in Australia is the Greens, but they’re a bunch of nutters who hug trees and would rather spend money saving whales than helping people. They honestly believe that climate change is our biggest problem.
I mean, it’s one thing to stand for something, but that something still has to make sense, doesn’t it?
One would wonder what would happen if the opinion polls were being rigged by powerful people who have their own agendas? If you ask me, it’s much easier to rig an opinion poll than to rig an election.