As a Queenslander, my first response to that question would probably be a defensive retort – as a Greens voter it most certainly was not my fault these corporate con artists won again. But I am almost an anomaly here, the bluest state of our country, in one of the safest LNP seats in SEQ. While I can understand the vitriol being thrown at QLD, and don’t doubt there are some who can directly be blamed, this goes beyond what the individual voter can be accountable for.
There are a few things that I believe need clearing up first.
- Firstly, to all who have called for Queensland to be deprived of the right to vote, get bent. I know some are joking, but some fools seem serious. Just because democracy didn’t go the way we wanted does not make it any less valid.
- Secondly, no, our system is not broken. As flawed as the two-party system may be, the preferential voting system works incredibly well within that framework, making sure every vote counts in some way. Our elections may be lopsided in indirect ways, but not directly (as it is, say, in the US).
- Lastly, calling QLD the “Texas of Australia” is disingenuous – as trash as our government is, our country is in no way comparable to their whirlwind of endless disaster (at least, not yet).
Blaming a whole state for something that is the choice of an individual is a rather odd way to go about it. Instead, it is prudent to look into the reasons why people voted the way they did and the different factors that influenced those reasons.
In some cases, people voted merely in their own interests, generally those with money tied up in investment properties or the like. Disappointing, to be sure, that some voted for so shallow a reason rather than with morality as their focus, but not unexpected. Others vote in what they perceive as their own interest, especially in FNQ. Coal, farmers, jobs – all buzzwords when used in the context of Coalition propaganda. It will take time for the effects of consistent Coalition control to sink in, but once they do we can only hope the loyalists will see the damage they’ve caused.
The two other major factors are a lack of understanding and the media. With quite a large majority of our media owned by very few companies (namely, the Murdoch press and Nine), countless voters would have been influenced by biased news articles and coverage. While it would be on the people reading these papers to have some level of critical thinking and reasoning, the whole purpose of propaganda is to maintain relatively low levels of such creative thought.
Scare campaigns such as Labor’s “death tax” (which was proven false multiple times) and positive promotion of Coalition plans – which, with any amount of scrutiny, are completely negligible or simply empty promises – drove many to vote for the Liberals or the Nationals. It is a scary cycle where the government deregulates how media ownership works in the country and then, using the influence gained by a monopolised propaganda mouthpiece, get re-elected over and over.
In a similarly dark cycle, a disconcerting amount of the population simply do not have enough of an understanding of how to vote at all. This either leads them to not voting, casting an informal ballot, or relying on family and friends to guide them. This goes back to the need for critical thinking, where each person should know to some degree what each party stands for. That is not to say people can’t get people to help decide their vote, but the choice should be autonomous and align with what the individual wants.
I was almost chidingly criticised by a relative for helping a friend of mine pick out which parties best matched their interests, being told it was a vote for (meaning in line with) another relative of mine. I simply said nothing in response at the time, but I felt like saying that I, and my friend, are more than capable of forming our own opinions and making our own decisions. Simply because people’s views align does not mean they have actual influence over a person’s vote – the same accusation could be made in reverse, to which I’m sure some would object.
But not even on the topic of who to vote for, I heard too many stories of people not knowing how to vote at all. Almost 700,000 informal ballots were cast (at last count I saw), and sadly I do not doubt an equal number or higher do not know how preference voting works. I know one lady who voted One Nation and then, simply because she like the candidate’s name, put the Greens second. Talk about not having a clue, jumping from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Learning how to vote should be something taught in school, before students graduate grade 12. How the House of Representatives and the Senate work, how the voting system works, the two-party system, minor parties, etc. etc. etc. All stuff that I ended up learning either on my own or from others over a few years, and nothing from our educational institutions. No, schools should not (as I’m sure many would allude to) be telling people who to vote for, but we can already see the dangers of having a public that cannot even figure out how to vote.
That, of course, does work for some – take a guess who that is.
So yes, while Queensland can be lambasted for being the blue stronghold that helped consolidate another Coalition term, there are a number of things nationally that must be addressed. Media, education, and ethics over personal gain are the three major points we need to drill into people over the next few years, along with climate change.
Many of the posts I have seen from the Greens, environmental groups, etc. have all been disappointed in the result, but steadfast in their opposition. A surge of hope and a sense of renewed energy (that was a coincidence, not planned, but welcome) to fight against the injustice of an Abbott – I mean Turnbull – wait, Morrison government.
The last thing we can afford to do is become despondent.
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