Justin Simpson’s ‘Letter from Australia’
There are lots of elections upcoming in Oz – it’s a national sport alongside cricket here for a nation with three tiers of government to ensure everyone gets lotsa chances to pick their favourite bigot or statesperson: usually a man, although there are a few female bigots and just a coupla stateswomen á la Caroline Lucas but, as in Blighty, extremes of behaviour are usually a male thing: see Farage, Johnson & Rees-Mogg!
Here, there’s British-born but extremely xenophobic, ex-PM Tony (“climate change is crap”) Abbott, who is misogynistic, hates ‘illegal’ immigrants but loves coal; and Bananalander Pauline Hanson of the One Nation Party who would like Straya to be completely waspish. In their heads, the 1950s was the best of times.
Then again, like the member for Brighton Pavilion and ex co-leader of the Greens, there is Julie Bishop, who recently resigned from the male-dominated Tories (confusingly called the Liberals in Australia) after many years’ faithful service and occasional states-womanly acts as Foreign Minister but, tellingly, remembered more for her crimson shoes than any political achievements.
There is a fortnight of pre-polling for those who are too excited to wait for election day on 23 March and just before ‘The Day’ there is a late rush from those who suddenly remember that voting in Straya is compulsory – so they enquire if they have voted even if their ballot paper is invalid for whatever reason; they don’t really care who wins as long as they don’t get hit with a $55 fine for not voting. On such strong foundations is a sturdy democracy built down under!
And, as in Britain, it’s just as difficult as under first-past-the-post for any nouveau riche to muscle in on the old dinosaurs of Labour or Conservative/Liberal and you can be sure those two ain’t gonna let anyone else get a bite of their cherry!
So we go round and round from A to B then back to A followed by – yup, you got it – B!
Refreshing? Different? Zzz . . .
Meanwhile, the summers get hotter, droughts longer, floods more frequent; per capita carbon emissions rise inexorably; almost everyone drives and flies; women continue to get side-lined for promotion and equal pay; foreigners and Aboriginals are similarly discriminated against, and Westminster/Canberra/Sydney continues to be completely unrepresentative of its population as we jolly along to inevitable Armageddon under our ‘democracy’.
Still, at least in Sydney the sun is currently shining in an azure sky!