Is this the end of Aussie apathy?

revolution picBack in the ’70s, when I was going to uni., we used to bemoan the fact that our parents, and most ‘adult’ Australians, just didn’t care about big, political issues. So long as the economy was ticking along nicely, they were happy to keep the incumbent government in power. For example, Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister from 1949 – 1966. That’s 17 years, without a break!

We, however, were more politically aware. We cared. We would hold our governments accountable.

We, of course, were the Baby Boomers, and we did do more than our parents before us, but there were still unspoken codes of conduct for voters and politicians alike:

– A State or Federal government had to be really on the nose [Aussie for really bad] for it to be voted out after just one term [3-4 years],

– Parties did not knife their leaders in the back, at least not once they were in power. That kind of politicking was meant to happen behind closed doors, while the party was jockeying to get out of Opposition.

In short, there was an element of the gentleman’s club about Australian politics. I think we can safely say that old school etiquette is well and truly gone. Or as our much unloved PM, Tony Abbott, once said, ‘dead, buried and cremated’.

In the last four years we’ve seen a never-ending merry-go-round of parties and leaders, all wanting their 15 minutes of fame. But we’ve also seen the electorate throwing its weight around like never before. The voice of the people is loud and raucous, and it’s being heard in high places.

[Sorry about the cliches but you must admit they fit really well just there. ;)]

A lot of the motivation behind the electoral swings is self-interest – middle and lower class [sic] voters are sick of politicians who promise one thing and deliver pain instead. In the past we’d shake our head with a cynical ‘Hah, politicians, what can you expect?’. These days our cynicism has turned to anger, and even if we can’t force the politicians to behave, we know we can pay back some of the pain they give us, and so we do.

So far, this awakening amongst the electorate has not been particularly good for politics because, instead of motivating politicians to ‘do better’, it’s just motivating them to jump faster every time a poll confirms or predicts a slump in popularity.

That is not the way to run a country. But, not knowing, and not caring what the electorate wants is not the way either.

The thing that excites me is that we, the voters, are finally starting to train our politicians. Catering only to the big end of town is not acceptable. Catering only to the unions is not acceptable. Making surpluses on the backs of the weak and needy is not acceptable. Being effing selfish is not acceptable. Being arrogant is not acceptable. Being a professional politician is not acceptable.

We are still a long way from training our polies to be ethical servants of the people, but I think we have made a beginning, and that is worth cheering about.

So if this truly is the end of Aussie apathy then I’m all for it. I’d rather see some chaos amongst the political parties than go back to the polite, but paternalistic standards of the past. Voters unite!



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

12 responses to “Is this the end of Aussie apathy?

  • Stephanie Allen Crist

    If you figure out how to make politicians behave in the best interests of the electorate, be sure to share your discoveries with the rest of the world! ๐Ÿ™‚ We could all use some genuinely caring, honest, and conscientious politicians.


  • EllaDee

    I’m not sure I see it the same way… Media out of self interest and the quest for News and revenue is pushing politics. Big Tony’s made his ‘captain’s choice” and the Media’s day, as the resultant squabbling has been irresistible. Most of us are hooked up online, as well as TV and radio so maybe we’re more informed but I don’t believe many people are confident they can create real change and real results and actual government rather than politics.


    • acflory

      I don’t think anyone consciously things that. I suspect it’s more like what happens when a mob forms – and that may be down to social media in a big way. I still think people are angrier than they were. Certainly less complacent.


  • Candy Korman

    Thanks for the introduction to Aussie politics. I like the idea of “training” politicians. If you figure out how โ€”please send us the instructions. I’ve tried, at various junctures, to explain U.S. politics to friends from Europe and Latin America and it comes out like a bad joke or a funny soap opera. NONE of it makes sense.

    That being said, “on the nose” means “you’ve hit it right” in the U.S. ummmm… again, we are separated by our shared language.


    • acflory

      lmao – I am soooo glad I put in the translation otherwise that whole post would have come out completely wrong!

      You have to admit these cultural/language divides do make life interesting. ๐Ÿ˜€


  • Carrie Rubin

    Just goes to show how powerful our voting can be. Now, if only we could effect some of the change in the US…


  • davidprosser

    If it’s working, ship some anti-apathy pills over here please. I’n scared to death this time round that people are so wearied of the jokers in power they’ll elect even a boyband. Trouble is, some of the real nasties are now parading as nice and playing populist policies while not mentioning the secret Nazi doctrine in the background.
    The best ones are actually in power already and they’re not up to much.
    .xxx Massive Hugs xxx


    • acflory

      Not sure if this is even possible in the UK, but when we hate all the major parties, we vote for independents. If enough of them get into the lower house, or more likely the upper house, /they/ can apply the brakes to policies the rest of us won’t like.
      Unfortunately, electing in the bad guys is the the downside to democracy at work.
      The Germans elected in Hitler as Chancellor? Let’s hope the UK and France are a bit wiser.


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