Monday, 22 October 2007

The virgin voter

I enrolled to vote last week and I will soon lose my voter virginity.
I have always liked politics and have taken more than a glancing interest. It’s not so much the personalities that interest me, save a few; it is the issues that drive politics, the systems and structures, the influence on my life and the reflection of the times it provides. I read it, listen to it, discuss and debate it. National and international, past and present I follow it with endless curiosity.
I first became eligible to enrol in 1987. Political protest, relocation, travel and satisfaction with incumbent governments have been among the reasons I have never voted. The closest I came was for the referendum to form an Australian Republic, but knowing John Howard had ensured a “no” result I did not bother. I have decided to become an eligible voter now because I don’t want to see a change of government at the upcoming election. Despite knowing my location will most likely render my vote pointless and tinged with disappointed, I have for the first time in a while a reason to put aside my voting reservations and have my say.
The first federal election I remember was 1979 when Malcolm Fraser was re-elected. My parents refused to tell me who they voted for back then, something I understand and greatly appreciate today. The mystery led to both an interest in politics and the understanding of the need to form my own opinion. While I have never voted, in all but one federal election since then I have thought the nation had got it right come election day. The only exception was 1993 when Paul Keating won what many considered the unwinnable election. A million unemployed and 17% interest rates yet Labor won; Keating was a brilliant politician, I was bemused. His party deserved to be tossed. Just as alarming that year was watching the 7.30 Report and hearing Kerry O’Brien open the show with “we won, we won, we won”. I have never been sure it’s my ABC since, but I'll leave that for another day.
This year I do not want to see a change of government and I am too aware it is a real possibility. For me, change for the sake of change just doesn’t cut it. The proposition the country is not doing well, preposterous and as ignorant as believing the mining boom will end soon. The thought of a union dominated government and its direct impact on my work place, no thank you. Leaving Iraq for the sake of popularity or shunning nuclear energy for the same reason, the bluff of an education revolution, or ratifying Kyoto. Lame. Add to that a fear of any government, Labor or Coalition, being in power both federally and in every state and the decision appears seemingly obvious. I don’t mind Kevin Rudd but I don’t like his parties differential policies or his comrades; I’d sooner have Peter Costello as my next Prime Minister because the country is not broken and he is eminently more qualified.
While I’ll continue to listen with interest to what both major parties have to say for the next five weeks, today it does seem inevitable that I’ll lose my voter virginity to the incumbents.