Monday, September 09, 2013

The Aftermath of the Australian Election

In Australia on Saturday we had the Federal Election to choose our next Prime Minister. We’ve never seen this country so divided, with voters on each side less fuelled by truly believing in their chosen party, and more driven by extreme passion to keep the other party out.  We’ve never seen the media so unashamedly telling the public who to vote for, with not even an ounce of pretence that they were reporting fairly. This time of ‘revelations’ gets more crazy by the minute. It’s as if the curtain has been pulled back, the people can openly see who is running the show and who is pulling the puppet strings, but instead of being mortified about being discovered this seems to have only spurred the former ‘power elite’ to go into control over-drive and pull the reins ever tighter, and spin the lies even thicker.
We see this kind of behaviour all the time when we are clearing our inner issues. We see the old sabotaging behaviour flare up every time we get ready to make a quantum leap forward. We have all experienced times of going in complete denial about something when we really aren’t ready to change yet. We know this happens, and yet it is still gob-smacking, mind-boggling and heart-breaking to watch it play out on the world and community stage.  It is enough to make one want to give up on ever hoping the world will actually change.  Yet these days there is something within us, and greater than us, urging us forward, to keep going, to hold the vision for a better world and do all you can to make it happen. 
This isn’t about having blind faith that things will change, it is about being determined to consciously choose the kind of world you want to live in. The best place to start is within your own self, then from there to wherever and whatever you feel guided to do. Just being more conscious about what you put into your shopping trolley each week is enough to make a difference. A local chicken shop recently closed down and while there may have been other factors at play, they were one of the only outlets to refuse to stock free range in a community that flocks in ever greater numbers to the weekly organic markets.  
During this election, everyone in Australia held a very strong opinion about who they wanted to lose it (even more so than who they wanted to win it).  This mass of strong political opinion is very unusual for a country whose citizens are more known for their political apathy with people generally more excited to know whether their local voting place will be hosting a sausage sizzle than enthusiastic about the prospect of participating in a (supposedly) democratic process.  If you’re an Aussie please don’t get mad at me for saying that – you know it’s sad but true!
So whatever side of the political fence one is sitting on, it is actually quite invigorating to be in the midst of some sort of political revolution in this country, where people are becoming so stirred up emotionally about so many issues, that they are starting to become vocal and active where before we were more complacent and had a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to most things.
For transparency, I have to say I was initially devastated by the result.  The new Prime Minister-elect is Tony Abbott of the Liberal party. I felt like I’d woken up to a nightmare where it was 1950 and Australia had voted in a PM whose views on women, same sex couples, asylum seekers and the environment were the popular views of that time.  Sunday morning was grey and gloomy in mood and weather, and a lot of people were in utter despair as to what on earth the majority were thinking? (Even though, yes, the outgoing party had become a total circus in many ways). The media had gone on and on for months about how the Labor Party had ruined this country when the truth is that this year the United Nations ranked Australia second in its annual Human Development index - for public health, social wealth, education, and happiness. Okay, this doesn’t mean we have to hold on to the same government forever, but it’s certainly not indicative of a country going down the gurgler.
In his victory speech Tony Abbott proclaimed that the right to govern does not belong to him or his party or any other party, it belongs to the people. I, along with millions of others I’m sure, will hold him to account on these words by being more politically vocal and active where we weren’t previously. This is a man who to date has not allowed a conscience vote on same sex marriage, which essentially means that everyone in his party has to vote with the party line on that issue, rather than vote as they would prefer to.  This doesn’t allow party members to vote in a way that reflects the opinion of the people they are representing – people that Mr Abbott is saying have a right to govern. This kind of governing is more dictatorship than democracy, and I truly hope that he stands by his words and from now does allow his party, and the people of Australia, a greater voice. If not, it will be demanded. We can already see that in the petitions that as of Sunday are already circulating on sites like Change.Org about policies in this country.
So this is why I say I was initially devastated. I’m now feeling this is actually a great opportunity for everyone to awaken their passion when it comes to being more active on issues that are important to you. This article Why an Abbott Election Victory would be Good by Andrew P Street is a great read for anyone left feeling flat by the result, and in need of an injection of motivation.
I know many of you may have voted Liberal, and are tired of the schoolyard antics that went on in the Labor party, as are we all.  I’m not really an advocate for either party, there is good and not so good in both. I just want to see a country, and a world, that is progressive in a positive way, that doesn’t feel the need to repress other people’s voices and actions where those voices and actions are only seeking equality and not doing harm to anyone. If you feel the Labor party did a terrible job with certain things, then please, make your voice known and ensure this party does better.  I would actually like to see a new kind of governing that truly represents the people, and governs based on what the people truly want and need, as opposed to what huge corporations and media magnates want and need. 
I once watched an interview on The View with former moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, author of Fighting for Common Ground. To paraphrase, she was asked why so many things didn’t change when so many people wanted certain change. She answered that change happened where people were vocal. A handful of noisy protestors who swamped a Senator’s office with phone calls and emails, were more likely to be heard than a million people who held the opposite opinion but didn’t say anything. She advised: if you want to create change, then you have to use your voice and make your opinion known. These days we have no excuse. If phoning or emailing directly isn’t your cup of tea, then there are a myriad of online petitions organised by people who will deliver your message for you. There are protest marches happening everywhere. There are shopping choices you can make. It all adds up and it all makes a difference. Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to walk our talk, and as Ghandi said, be the change you wish to see in the world.

© Dana Mrkich 2013


  1. I have to say I was totally bummed about Abbott. I lived in Australia for a few years, been watching from NZ (and want to move back)...but under Abbott? oh boy. I know I shouldn't say this...but I hope he falls off his bike! (perch). And I never want to see him in lycra again! (that sure put me off my breakfast).

    I had been excited when I heard Wikileaks had a new party...but noticed the media barely covered them. :(
    I think the media has a lot to answer for, be interesting to see what unfolds.

    The only thing that put my mind at ease, is I read election results at 11:11AM. It made me think ok, this is as it should be. (I can send you the screen grab if you like).

    And guess what the password is as I write this.
    urise Exp (you rise!). I love these signs we get.

  2. PS: Also wanted to say thanks so much for being here Dana!
    Really appreciate how you talk about these real life issues...(politics etc) really helps to ground and make sense of it all.

    Really need it actually. Much love

  3. Thank you Be11a for all your comments too xo