Farcical Elections

I hope that elections in other countries are not as farcical as they are here in Australia

I understand that if you have the misfortune not to live in Australia, politicians do lie, but they obey the 11th commandment – thou shalt not be found out.

In the lead up to today’s Federal Election, both major parties have been convicted of promoting untrue horror stories about the plans of the other party.

They Will Honestly Put My Interests First?

Promotional phone calls became such a problem in Australia that a law was brought in – if you put your name on the “Do not call” list, it is illegal for anybody other than your friends to make unsolicited phone calls to you.

I have my name on that list, but in the last week, all the parties have been phoning me, breaking the law and ignoring my expressed wishes.

In other words, politicians of all parties have no interest in what I want, are law-breaking liars and scoundrels.

Apart from that – is there any reason why I should not vote for any of them?

Australian Character

Australia started out as a Convict Colony, so they tend to have the following characteristics.

  • They have a sneaky appreciation for scoundrels – that won’t affect the vote because they’re all scoundrels.
  • Their first reaction to something being compulsory or forbidden is to try to find a way to get around it.

Compulsory “Voting”

Approach to polling station in schoolThis picture shows a car leaving the polling station, by a road lined with posters advertising each lying scoundrel.

Queue for compulsory 'vote'In other countries, people only vote if they have strong feelings about which candidate has earned their trust. We would probably have a less than 50% turnout if that were the case in Australia, so they have tried to make voting compulsory.

What that means is that you must turn up at a polling station (often a school or church), be ticked off the list, and receive two ballot papers. The papers have different purposes, but I’m not interested in finding out what. You then take your papers into the polling booth.

After that, nothing is compulsory, because it is a secret ballot.

Some commemorative bricksYou can see voters in the queue here, and the darker brown bricks are commemorative of special students at this school.

Unfortunately, being walked on doesn’t make the engraving on the bricks stand out any more clearly, but if you are interested enough to get down close, you can make out most of the inscriptions, especially the newer ones.

I didn’t dare to take photographs of the people handing out the ballot papers because they would have objected, and possibly tried to take away my camera.

Because of its convict origins, Australia doesn’t have privacy laws, and the law would be on my side, but it would have wasted a lot of my time. If they called in the police, a policeman would have to fill in lots of forms to confiscate my camera for 24 hours; then the police would have to return it without damaging the photographs that I had taken.

However anything I do in a polling booth is private to maintain secrecy, so I took photos in the polling booth.

city of Perth, W. Australia You can see a little green ballot paper and an enormous white one twice the width of the polling booth.

The green one demonstrates the first way to beat the system. It is called the “donkey vote” because naive citizens believe that it is accidental, not that objectors are beating the system. In fact, at each election the Labor government complains that the voting forms are too complicated for its voters to get it right. That implies that only stupid people vote for Labor.

You are supposed to put a 1 opposite your favorite candidate, a 7 opposite the candidate that you want to keep out, and your order of preference in between.

city of Perth, W. Australia
Donkey voters number them straight down the page, with 1 at the top and 7 at the bottom. So there is a sort of lottery held before the forms are printed to decide the order of candidates. If there is little to choose between candidates and voting is close, the donkey vote is likely to carry the day, so the election depends on the random choice of order of the candidates.

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. If candidates are all as bad as each other, why not choose the candidates at random and do away with the expense of the election?

The second way to avoid voting is to “spoil” your ballot paper. You can see at the back of the booth a notice about what to do if you make a mistake. Naive people think that spoiled votes are all mistakes – except votes like mine. I make it clear that I have spoiled my vote intentionally by scribbling on the papers.  It is a secret ballot, so nobody knows what I’ve done until they start to count the votes.

Oh, until the last election the labor party, with no business experience, always got the country into debt and the other party spent years getting them out of debt again. This time the Liberals have copied the USA system and got themselves into debt that they have no intention of repaying.

Australia was mostly able to ignore the financial crash of 2008 because they hadn’t adopted the funny money system yet. Now when the USA crashes because the funny money bubble bursts, Australia will be dragged down as well. It reminds me of the ancient Chinese curse “May you live in exciting times.” That is where the world is heading.

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