I’m not sure if the political tremors have reached Europe yet but it’s currently election season in Australia and I can’t same I’m envious of the choice facing the electorate here: For the incumbent Labor party is the Welsh-born, curiously reptilian Julia Gillard whose horrific nasal drone completely obliterates the actual subject matter of anything she says. The main challenger, the leader of the Liberal Coalition, is the London-born, equally charmless Tony Abbott – a man who oozes arse from every pore; the very epitome of a slippery, untrustworthy politician who recently admitted in an interview that he doesn’t always tell the ‘gospel truth’.
Frankly it’s an uninspiring decision – how do you choose between a lizard and a liar? Faced with such a dilemma in the UK, there would be a clear winner – apathy. For better or worse that isn’t an option in Australia where compulsory voting is enforced and that raises an obvious problem with this system – who do you vote for when there’s no one deserving of your vote? Can the winner really claim a popular mandate if the electorate is actually forced to vote?
On the plus side, compulsory voting is a great way of engaging people in the political process and making them think, even if it is only once every three years, about how they are going to be governed. The majority of Australians that you speak to will have some sort of opinion on current political issues compared to the indifference that a lot of people in the UK feel towards the system.
Who would I vote for? I don’t hear you ask, but I’m going to answer anyway: Personally I would probably go for Gillard if you held a gun against my head (or a $150 fine for not voting) mainly because Abbott is too ludicrous to take seriously as a gameshow host, let alone a Prime Minister. That said, the relentless barrage of negative TV adverts against him (literally one in every advert break at the moment) is actually making me feel a modicum of sympathy and I can’t deny that the prospect of him as a prime minster isn’t without some comic possibilities: In statesman terms Tony Abbott makes George W Bush look like Winston Churchill.
I will give Gillard credit for one comment though: During a debate in the Australian parliament she likened Abbott to a “snivelling grub” and when the speaker ordered her to apologise for and withdraw the mark she added “If I have offended grubs I withdraw unconditionally”.
You just can’t imagine David Cameron pulling out a line of that quality.