Australia is headed for a federal election in two and a bit weeks. I’m pretty sure the whole world is now laughing at us after the events in June, where Prime Minister Julia Gillard was ousted by the same people who ousted Kevin Rudd to install her, only to reinstate Kevin Rudd. My head hurts. It’s like a high school game of popularity. We’re not quite at Game of Thrones level infighting and backstabbing, but I’m sure it’s on the horizon.
My biggest issue with this election, apart from the fact that I a) don’t trust Labor to keep their shit together and b) Tony Abbott is a misogynistic twat who constantly makes huge gaffes and has been rather cagey about what his policies are actually going to be (releasing them ‘just before the election’) is that everyone around me seems to just be parroting the opinion of others. Go and take a look at your Facebook feed in the lead-up to this election and critically analyze your friend’s posts. Can you identify which of them are actually mouthing their own legitimately formed opinions and not just repeating the bollocks they’ve read in the news somewhere? Because the fact that the majority of people seem to read things and accept them blindly, without questioning where they came from or if they form some part of an agenda or motive, is fucking terrifying.
The majority of Australian newspapers are privately owned. Rupert Murdoch owns News Corporation which owns news.com.au, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, The Advertiser, The Sunday Times, The Mercury and Northern Territory News as well as a metric shit-tonne of suburban and community newspapers. Rupert Murdoch also personally and publically endorses Tony Abbott:
Conviction politicians hard to find anywhere. Australia’s Tony Abbott rare exception. Opponent Rudd all over the place convincing nobody. (@rupertmurdoch) https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/statuses/369584639221829632
When the Labor leadership spill was occuring back in June, Murdoch’s papers were quick to label Gillard as evil and hailed Rudd as an avenging angel, swooping in to save the party from her mismanagement. Once sworn in as Prime Minister yet again, Murdoch’s papers then turned on Rudd and began to run stories such as “News Corp readers back ‘honest’ Tony Abbott but label Kevin Rudd ‘untrustworthy'” and expounding on how much his phone bill was and that he failed businesses by supporting Gillard’s crackdown on 457 visas to appease unions to name a few (I totally support that actually – I work in construction currently and the amount of Australians that come knocking on my door begging for work because the industry is in disarray and there’s no work for anyone is ridiculous, yet construction trades are on the 457 list of essential areas).
Ask anyone why they didn’t like Julia Gillard. Immediately disregard anyone who says she’s a ginger, had big ears or was a woman (all of which are true, but hardly have any impact on her ability as a PM) and you’re left with maybe 1 or 2 people who can actually articulate their dislike for her as a PM and not a person. The media, and I blame Mr Murdoch for a significant proportion of it, often ran critical stories on her appearance, her not being married to her long-term partner even suggesting that he was gay because he was a male hairdresser and not married to her, and many blatant sexist attacks on her ability based solely on her gender.
Now I am not saying she’s a paragon of virtue by any stretch of the imagination. I was largely indifferent to her as a PM although I cheered her misogyny speech. What I am saying, is that the majority of Australian’s attitudes towards her was largely influenced by the media. And I am not the only one who thinks so.
So come this election, we now have the choice of Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott. I think we can probably agree that neither are as they appear to portray themselves – I doubt Kevin Rudd is as innocent in the removal of Julia Gillard as he appears and I don’t buy Tony Abbott’s family man persona one bit, nobody who says the things he’s said in the past about women can truly manage policies in the best interests of women and his parental leave scheme leaves much to be desired. So it will be a really difficult choice, although since it’s preferential party voting it might make it slightly easier.
My one wish however, is that everyone who votes on election day does so with open eyes and an open mind and votes based on their consciences and on the party policies – not as a visceral reaction to their dislike of the other. That said, should Tony Abbott get elected, moving to Finland will look even more attractive!