Laura Tingle virtually announced on the 7.30 Report that Scott Morrison would be heading to Yarralumla tomorrow to kick off the election campaign. All the signs around Parliament House were pointing in that direction.
It’s almost bound to be 18 May. In any case it will be called by the end of the coming weekend, so I thought I’d do a short post so that we can compare notes here.
Back before the 2010 election Laura Tingle famously said:
There are two possible explanations for how an opposition presenting itself as an alternative government could end up with an $11 billion hole in the cost of its election commitments.
One is that they are liars, the other is that they are clunkheads. Actually there is a third explanation: they are liars and clunkheads.
But whatever the combination, they are not fit to govern. (Emphasis added)
I was reminded of Tingle’s frank comment after Kristina Keneally’s take-down of the ScoMo’s comments on Labor’s electric vehicle policy. However, it would be flattering to call this lot liars and clunkheads. They open their mouths and ridiculous rubbish comes out. That rubbish is picked up and seriously repeated as news by ABC radio.
It is impossible under these circumstances to have any debate on policy. If you listen to Chris Bowen talking to Patricia Karvelas or read his Press Club speech, there are two clear alternatives for voters to contemplate. I guess if you put an advertising man in the PMs chair you can probably expect to get what we are getting.
Kevin Bonham has the consolidated opinion polls at 51.9 to Labor TPP. I think it means we have a contest, to be won or lost.
Finally, if you have a spare 54 minutes, I’d recommend listening to Paul Barclay’s interview with Judith Brett – How Australia got its unique system of voting and elections. She has written a book, From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage.
She says the first elections were not particularly secret. Voting was often done in a pub. Only substantial male property owners could vote, and candidates bribing the actual voters was normal. A voter would then make his vote in public, loudly proclaiming who he was voting for.
At first all names were on the ballot paper and the voter crossed off the ones he did not want to choose. A public servant in SA invented the square next to the name, which then facilitated preferential voting.
Queensland, we are told, first introduced elections on Saturday, still not the case in many parts of the world.
Brett thinks compulsory voting, also rare around the world, is here to stay. She reminds us that John Howard was not in favour of universal health services as in Medicare. She thinks that if we did not have compulsory voting Medicare would never have survived. Under universal suffrage and compulsory voting, the needs of poor, the dispossessed and the old cannot be ignored completely.
She thinks that the USA cannot be called a democracy while they have the states in charge of the voting system.
We gave votes to women second after NZ, but there was a time before WW1 when the “Australian system” was a model for the world.
So we have much to be thankful for, if we could only find some more grownups to stand for parliament.