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Are Communities Starting to Engage?

Voting in Election

The Federal Election on 21 May saw a groundswell of people repudiating the Coalition Government’s policies and disregard for community values. The policy platform on which the Coalition campaigned spoke very little of Climate Change and yet this was the most important issue according to the polls. It is interesting that the ABC Vote Compass says that the issue of Climate Change was a view held by only 8% of coalition voters, so whilst they may have been on the money with their own base, they were well off with the balance of voters.

Another issue of concern with voters was Government integrity. The coalition failed to introduce a working anti corruption commission during its term despite its promise to do so. Their concept of an ICAC that would not hold public hearings was not acceptable to other parties, nor I imagine to the general public. It would be no different to holding all court cases in camera. People are fed up with the entitlement and privilege often displayed by certain politicians of all persuasions and at all levels of government. It is also fair to suggest that the standards set in public office should be the level which are expected in our communities at large.

The message should be clear to both major parties which is that you ignore communities at your peril. The remarkable drop in first preferences to both major parties should let them know that better representation is required. People are fed up with divisive politics and poor standards of respect in parliament itself. Even though some behaviour demonstrated at a high level may not necessarily be of a nature that indicates corruption, it can certainly be questionable from an ethical standpoint. The treatment of women in the workplace is no doubt one of these issues that reflected very poorly on the coalition during the election. The almost complete disappearance of Alan Tudge, overshadowed by allegations of abuse in a sexual relationship, was reflected in an 11.62% swing against him on first preferences. The high profiles accorded to Grace Tame, a tireless fighter on sexual abuse and gender inequality as well as the issues around Brittany Higgins no doubt also played a role.

The result of all this was an overwhelming statement where many more women were elected to parliament and ordinary voters turned to the Teal Candidates and the Greens who offered more socially responsible policies.

Despite the scaremongering around the potential of a hung parliament, many communities will finally get a voice at a Federal level instead of someone towing the party line. Let us sincerely hope that we are seeing a return to grassroots, community based politics where people engage for the sake of their communities, their future and that of their descendants.

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