Politics, Aussie style

rudd and abbott

This Saturday it is General Election time in Australia and a chance for the electorate to decide who they want to lead the sunburnt nation over the next three years.

It is also the first election since I gained Australian citizenship in the 1990s where I will not be voting, having removed my name from the electoral roll around the same time that I packed my remaining possessions in a crate and headed to the airport one last time.

My interest in Aussie Election Day 2013 has therefore become a little more detached than it may have been in the past, relying on media coverage and feedback from friends living down under to help shape my opinions.

So what have I gleaned? Well, the general consensus seems to be that when it comes to prospective PMs it is a choice between two flawed individuals, lacking in both credibility and voter appeal.

In the red corner, we have Labour’s Kevin Rudd (or KRudd as he likes to be known), the political Lazarus who was voted in at the 2007 election, then sacked by his own party because he was so unpopular, replaced by Australia’s first female PM Julia Gillard.

Gillard survived the next election. Just. Then presided over a hung parliament for a couple of disastrous years before her party once again decided that they knew best who the Australian people need as PM and proceeded to stab her in the back and bring back KRudd.

What a circus.

Rudd must have his supporters – well, we’ll soon find out about that – but to me he always came across as being narcissistic and inauthentic, never more so than when affecting a love of footy and using ‘fair dinkum’ Aussie slang.

Opinion polls have been disastrous for Labour and you would think that the opposition Liberal/National Party Coalition party would only have to keep their noses clean and they would be a certainty for government. And yet…

In the blue corner, we have leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott.

Abbott is a polarising character. A former Rhodes scholar, amateur boxer and man of the cloth, he is (or has positioned himself) as a man of action – community firefighter, surf lifesaver, triathlete and so on.

He is also a loose cannon. In the past, his gaffes were legendary and it was assumed that he could never rise too far in the party – he was too much of a hazard. But somehow he did keep rising and now stands very close to the highest office of all.

He seems to have run a reasonably disciplined campaign and his party seem broadly behind him, a situation in stark contrast to the fractured and dysfunctional Labour government.

However, the old Abbott does rear its head every now and then and one wonders if the electorate can truly trust this man to lead the nation.

Interestingly, every Australian newspaper bar one has recommended its readers vote for Abbott, even the somewhat left leaning Sydney Morning Herald, which gives you some idea of the uphill struggle that Rudd faces when the ballot boxes open.

There is however one arena where Abbott is clearly the underdog, and that is in the world of social media.

Over the last few weeks, my Facebook timeline has had a steady flow of election-related posts with very few, if any, in favour of the Opposition or their leader.

If a social media analyst looked at my data, they might deduce that the opinion polls are wrong and Rudd is the hot favourite to win. Alternatively, they might deduce that all my friends are left wing activists. I’d suggest neither scenario would be particularly accurate.

I think the real truth is that social media is an un-representative bubble where those with left wing views feel empowered to make them widely known and those with more right wing views are unwilling to voice them for fear of being outed as a neo-fascist.

I will follow the election outcome with great interest – I am still a card carrying Aussie citizen after all – but I genuinely hope that the electorate delivers a clear result and that whoever is returned is able to get on with the important job of governing the country.

May the best man win.

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One thought on “Politics, Aussie style

  1. Nice summary Sean, if anything the community have come to like Abbott, but probably more from disliking Rudd as you say. 150 seats in the Parliament, my tip, 5 hours before the polling booth closes is Abbot 101, Rudd 48, Greens 1.

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