I’m watching the election count. Waiting for the various speeches to me made, although I’m liable to throw things at the television when that grinning Abbott’s face is on it.
I hoped up till today that there would be a minor miracle – it only needed to be a minor one – and the ALP would get back in. Or, in fact, any other outcome that prevented Abbott becoming prime minister, however unlikely.
With gritted teeth I voted today, I voted for David Feeney, a man I dislike, a man who won the preselection for Batman against not one but two feisty local female candidates. I gritted my teeth, ate my election day sausage, and put a 1 next to his name. Then I did the same with the senate form, putting at 1 against the ALP – eschewing my usual policy of filling in every box below the line. My sausage was getting cold, there were ninety seven boxes, and my seven month old son was getting restless. I thought long and hard these last few weeks about how to vote, despite being a card-carrying member of the ALP. And decided in the end to vote in the way that made a Liberal victory the least likely.
(At the time of writing, the ALP has held this here seat of Batman by a healthy margin.)
I’ve been following politics since, I’m told, I was four years old and quite angry about the dismissal. So I’ve seen many a government, state and federal, come and go. Some governments deserve to lose, some governments have the stink of death about them. Joan Kirner, a lovely lady who I’ve met, lead at dead-man-walking state Labor government which lost to Kennett back in… was it 1992? The state was a shambles, the budget was a mess, you could see clearly why they lost. The same goes for when Howard lost in 2007. The last nail in that government’s coffin was Work Choices. People had clearly had enough of them. Then there was the Nationals in Queensland when they were finally swept from power after the Bjelke-Petersen years.
And so I puzzle at this loss. What terrible thing is it that this federal ALP has done during the last six years? They steered us safely through the global financial crisis, which has ruined the economies of many other nations. They presided over an economy which is the envy of the world. They brought in excellent legislation like the National Disability Insurance Scheme and won us a seat on the UN Security Council. They wound back the awful Work Choices legislation. And started building the National Broadband Network, a world leading piece of infrastructure. Then there was the apology to the stolen generation… Look, here’s a good long list of things they’ve done.
So what happened? This was one government who are terrible at selling their successes – as I’ve said before, legislation must not only be done it must be seen to be done. An excellent example is the Carbon “Tax”. It was never a tax, the legislation actually talks about an emissions trading scheme. It is a carbon price, not a tax. But the federal ALP did such a terrible job of introducing it that the opposition were able to name it and label it as something else entirely. They still got the legislation up, and remarkably it seems to have worked. The whole two terms where like this, a hard working government, later a minority government, undermining themselves.
Then there was the extraordinary piles of bullshit that emanated from the opposition. Lines like “The government has lost control of Australia’s borders” and other such lies. Helped along by a compliant press, largely owned by Murdoch…
So here we are, Australia, you ungrateful nation. You get the government you deserve, a petty narrow administration, whose sole motivation is to tear up the good things Labor has done. A racist and elitist group of white men, a leader who has stated openly that he will use his position to impose his Catholic morality on the nation. A climate change denier who doesn’t believe in science. A government full of the ghosts of the Howard administration.
And if you listen carefully you can hear the Australian Christian Lobby salivating with excitement, ready for the chance to make life hard for the filthy queers. Those few hundred thousand swing voters, largely poorly educated men, who probably think that Abbott is a “top bloke”, have delivered us this pack of incompetents. Who will make life harder for the poorly paid workers who have voted for them. I see an Abbott-led recession in our future, I see a mean and petty nation, a trivial little country at the bottom of the world, not a world leader, not a respected neighbour, not a friendly land of the lucky. We are no longer a progressive nation, we are now a timid nation with a revolting leader. I am not looking forward to the next three years.