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Why I voted Blank

By Richard Tonkin
Created 21/08/2010 - 18:42

If the majority of the Australian population told this current form of democracy to get stuffed by lodging a blank ballot form, what would happen next? Would our voting system be destroyed? Would anarchy break out, some kind of battle for control of the country?

I'd seen Mark Latham on 60 Minutes last Sunday, telling us that Abbott and Gillard had given us blank pieces of paper for policies, and that it was our legal right to respond in kind at the ballot box. I gave the idea a fair bit of thought during the week, bounced it around on my Facebook page. The politically eclectic mob I chat with were mostly dead against the idea. Some said that as people had died to provide the right to vote it was more or less my duty to "make my vote count" Others seemed disappointed at my stance. All in all I received enough of a negative reaction to make me reconsider.

As much as my political leanings have mostly been towards Labor (though of the opinion that if you want a job done properly, ask a right-wing Liberal to do it) I wouldn't be able to look myself in the eye in the mirror each day if I voted for a party run not just by this back-stabbing Brutus-ette, but by the unelected factional leaders who handed her the blade. Like him (and what he has or hasn't done) or not, Rudd was our democratically mandated Prime Minister, and the right place to decide his future would have been at this election. The party we put into political power denied us that opportunity. To me this is unjust and undemocratic.

And the Greens? It seems they're making a play for power by riding on Labor's coat-tails of this democratic dilemma. In other words, they're happy to support Gillard's actions.

I couldn't vote for Tony Abbott. How anyone who brought in WorkChoices could be allowed to conclude a campaign without releasing an industrial relations policy is beyond my comprehension. It seems that his sleep deprived media entourage were getting grumpy about it too, tossing him relevant questions on the last day of campaigning. Abbott, of course, said nothing, only gave a refusal to rule out changes to I.R. laws should he succeed. And as for his UK carbon-copied (and failed) Sleepless Marathon...

I think my main irritation is that neither of our proposed PMs has been able to answer a question candidly and truthfully. I've felt that they've been prepared to say anything that will give them votes, and without a shred of detail to support their catch-phrases.

Even so, I was still unsure of myself when I headed to the polling booth. Arriving at midday I had plenty of time in the queue to talk to others, many who felt they had no-one to vote for as a representative they wanted.

By the time I reached the front of the queue and received my ballot papers, I was finally convinced of what was the right thing to do. Steeling myself, I walked straight to the slots and lodged my vote.

If Tony gets in, I'll have to live with the guilt of knowing that my vote didn't help stop him. However, this election campaign has left me with a sense that my beliefs are totally irrelevant to the people who would run my life, and having participated in this disgusting charade of democracy would have been a much greater burden.

So far this arvo I've talked to a dozen other people who've done the same as me. I wonder, when the votes are counted, how many of us will have protested in this manner.


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