I don’t know why I am suddenly quite so fascinated by Australian politics. But I seem to have decided that I must now find out everything I can about all the parties I dug up yesterday, and report back. We’ll see how long this enthusiasm lasts. In passing, I note that my friends appear to be quite a politically active mob. On quite a lot of different sides, too. Definitely a good thing. I am currently trying to arrange to do how to vote cards at the same booth where another friend is handing out cards for Labor. My evil side can’t help wondering if I can convince my democrat, liberal, socialist alternative and Scary Christian friends to hand out cards at the same booth… keep each other company, you know. Because surely it is a good thing when people on all different sides of politics can find common ground? This is, of course, a hobby horse of mine.
I also wonder why politics is meant to be such a Thing Not To Discuss. My parents didn’t even discuss it with each other, and my mother got quite upset once when I asked her how she had voted. It just Wasn’t Done. Partly, I think, because my father was a swinging voter with working class sympathies and my mother was much more conservative. But it seems to have been a wider social rule. Maybe I’m just lucky in having friends who are happy to discuss politics non-heatedly. Or maybe it’s just that everyone who knows me has by now realised that I ask out of rampant curiosity, not to pick a fight.
Anyway, if you don’t ask the people you respect who they are voting for and why, then how are you supposed to find out what the different parties have to offer people of intelligence and integrity? Or why a particular person feels represented by a particular party?
Back to the policy documents. I’m going to start with the ALP, because I went there yesterday.
First, I should say that their site was pretty good in terms of making policy findable. Not quite as accessible as the Greens, but on the other hand, you didn’t have to download anything. This is actually quite an important thing – it worries me when people won’t put their policies out there and make them obvious.
In terms of content, I was pleasantly surprised by their statements on foreign policy. Actually, these rather impressed me; it sounded as though they knew what they were talking about, which is always good, and I felt inclined to agree with them, which is also good. A lot of discussion about the need to re-form our ties with the local Asian countries, which we have been doing a good job of offending recently. This harks back to labor policy when I was in school and really not interested in the outside world, so I can’t judge how good they are at this really. Still, it seemed to make sense in theory. I also liked their comments about our alliance with the US – they cited the Canadian example as one to follow; act as allies, not as uncritical followers of US policy. And they want out of Iraq. So far so good. More than anything else on their site, this policy sounded as though it was written by someone intelligent, with a good knowledge of the issues, and an agenda beyond sniping at the current government – although that was there too, of course.
Environmentally, they aren’t bad. I secretly prefer them to the Greens here, because I think the Greens are a little on the extreme side. But they will definitely ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is important.
I’m finding the whole private/state schools thing hilarious, because both schools I went to are on the hit-list. But on the whole, I tend to agree with the idea – and, actually, I approve of the fact that they are coming out and saying, this is where the cuts are coming from, rather than trying to hide it.
Medicare looks alright, as does their tax stuff. I don’t know either area well enough to judge, but the principles look fairly good to me.
My biggest overall issue with them is hard to put my finger on. The individual sections were all reasonable, but there seemed to be gaps. I couldn’t find much about the refugee situation. Maybe it isn’t written yet… but I did notice that generally the areas where I knew I did not like ALP policy as previously stated were not mentioned at all. This strikes me as rather evasive – showing the good stuff, and pretending the bad wasn’t there. If I am charitable, I will hope this is because they are revising their policies and there will be more information later (I’ll check). But I’m not sure. There was a much more political feel to this website – and not in a good way. Too much time being wasted on sniping at the current government for my taste – but as long as they actually produce coherent policies, this isn’t such a problem.
I am, of course, assuming that they will do as they are now claiming. I have no reason to assume otherwise.
I feel I can safely give them my preferences – not that it matters in Wills!
Next stop – the liberal party. I doubt I will be able to be as even handed, but I’ll give it my best shot.