Haven’t decided who to vote for in Saturday’s Federal election?
You’re in good company!
Or, maybe you have decided.
Or, maybe you’re planning to vote informally as a protest.
If any of these describe you, read on!
The aims of this post are simple…
- To challenge you to take your vote seriously.
- To help you arrive at the voting booth with a clear, well-informed decision in mind.
This post is NOT going to tell you who to vote for… that’s totally up to you!
Why bother to vote?
I know you’ve heard it many times before, but it is absolutely true:
Your vote is important. Make it count.
Our right to vote in Australia is a great privilege. It is also a great responsibility. Don’t treat this privilege and responsibility lightly
… and don’t throw it away!!
Casting a meaningful vote means putting in an effort.
Yes, to make an informed choice you DO need to spend time studying the policies of the political parties.
If this sounds like hard work, I’ve got some good news… there are many resources available to assist you.
If politics is something you dislike or find boring, you may be in for a big surprise. Education on any important topic in life is a powerful thing… it may well impact you in ways you never expected.
Becoming familiar with current political issues may open up a whole new realm for you.
It can empower you to discuss issues you never felt confident talking about before.
It can inspire you to take action on some of the vital issues impacting our society and the world around us.
How to throw away your vote… and…
Why not to…
The worst thing you can do in this election is put in an informal vote
(called a donkey vote).
Typical reasons why people do this… and why these reasons are flawed…
- “I’m totally unhappy with all parties. I’m going to vote informally to protest.”
The only person you hurt by doing this is YOU! You’ve just thrown away your right (and your responsibility) to make a decision about which party is going to govern Australia, and your own personal future just may be affected by whoever wins.
- “The parties are basically the same so it doesn’t matter who I vote for.”
The parties may have some similarities but they are NOT the same.
Whoever wins the election will have different impacts on the direction Australia is heading.
- “Both parties are full of wankers… You can never believe anything they say.”
Yes, many politicians are experts at telling half-truths and distorting reality to make their policies look great, and the other parties’ policies look like disasters. BUT at the end of the day, whoever wins the election will have significant power to affect Australia’s future, and yours and mine along with it.
Our job, as members of the public, is to hold those who form Government to account. A tough job? Yes, but politicians ARE sensitive to public opinion, and even more so in this age of social media.
- “I can’t be bothered… It’s all so boring… I’m too busy.”
I respectfully suggest it’s time you did start being bothered! Many aspects of your own future, that of your family, your local electorate and community, and Australia’s future depend on it.
- “I know so little about politics… It’s all so confusing… I’ve never had time to understand it.”
Understanding politics is like understanding anything else in life. If you take time to learn about the parties and stay informed of current issues your understanding will grow.
How to Use Your Vote Wisely…
So you’re not going to throw away your vote… that’s great! The challenge now is to use it wisely.
Common thinking that leads to a wasted vote…
- “The leader of the Party A is a better leader, so I’m going to vote for their Party.”
It is essential you look beyond the personalities of the leaders and base your vote on the Parties’ policies. Yes, the leaders do influence the policies adopted by their parties, but they are far from being in total control.
The major parties are based on very different political philosophies. They are also driven by different (powerful) influences and vested interests outside the parties.
- “I’ve always voted for Party A so that’s how I’m going to vote this time.”
If you’ve done your homework and are convinced your values are better represented by one party above the others then maybe this approach is valid. But maybe not too.
The current policies of your preferred party may NOT represent your current values and opinions on the current issues being faced by Australia. A wiser approach is to evaluate the issues and policies specific to each election rather than relying on your personal status quo.
- “My local member is doing a great job so I’m going to vote for them rather than a candidate of a specific party.”
Yes, your local member may be doing a good job of representing issues in your electorate. However, your vote is not only about what is best for your electorate. To my mind, your primary responsibility is to vote for whoever will deliver the best outcome for the whole of Australia, not just your local community.
- “My parents (or my partner, the leader of my religious community, or some other person who I respect) are voting for Party A, so I’m going to vote for Party A too.”
If this person is well-informed about current issues and party policies and their values align closely with yours, it’s good to take note of who they’re voting for. But don’t just fall in behind them… Ask them the reasons why and see if you do agree with their assessment. Remember, even highly respected people have biases… and their perspective is just one of many different perspectives.It’s far wiser to talk to a range of informed, caring people who are voting for different parties. Other perspectives may also be supported by sound reasoning. Understanding them will put you in a far better position to make your own informed choice.
How to be informed…
There’s only a few days left until the election, but here’s some ideas…
- The ABC’s Vote Compass is an informative and helpful place to start… https://votecompass.abc.net.au/.
The website takes you through a multiple choice questionnaire covering key election issues. The questions will help you understand the key issues and help you determine your own values and position on each of them. The outcome is a ‘graph’ showing where you are on the ‘political landscape’ compared to the three major Parties (Coalition, Labor, Greens).
You can also ‘drill down’ to see how your position compares to each of these parties on each key issue.
- Keep an eye on the news for the current issues and the policies/promises being offered by the parties to address them.
- Watch TV programs that probe politicians and issues in depth and bring the wisdom of commentators and experts to bear. The ABC’s Q&A program each Monday night is brilliant for this… it is both informative and entertaining to watch.
- Keep your B.S. meter set on ‘High’. Look out for three word slogans that vastly oversimplify complex issues, and for scare campaigns and half-truths designed to use fear and deception to capture your vote.
- Ignore political advertisements. They are generally unhelpful and often downright misleading (see previous point).
- Read in-depth articles on key issues and policies. These articles can help to place what politicians are saying in a broader perspective. Too often the full facts reveal that ‘great promises’ are political gimmicks attempting to win votes. But beware also… the media is driven by its own vested interests.
- Check out each of the major parties websites for details of their policies on key issues.
- Talk to other people, especially caring, wise people who keep themselves politically informed. You don’t have to agree with or follow other people’s opinions or beliefs, but openly discussing political issues will help ‘sharpen your sword’ when it comes to understanding the issues and discerning the wisdom (or otherwise) of what the political parties are saying.
A Final Thought…
Your vote on Saturday is important… Make it count.
If you don’t feel adequately informed when you get to the voting both, commit yourself to be informed before the next election.
Your vote in EVERY election is important.
Don’t put it off… START INFORMING YOURSELF TODAY.