“Don’t Waste Your Vote on a Major Party”: The New Rallying Cry This Federal Election

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Voting minor parties

Not so long ago, when the country paused to take the nationwide visit to the ballot box to vote on who might govern the country for the next term of parliament, an admission that one was voting for a minor party candidate or an independent was often met with the refrain: “why waste your vote”?

Indeed, the idea that either Labor or the Liberals – in coalition with the Nationals – will be governing following a federal election was established in 1949, when the Liberal Menzies government knocked the Chiefly government off its perch, ending almost a decade of Labor rule.

Overseen by the Morrison government, the last term of parliament has been marked by a series of crises, in a manner never before seen by those born after this major party duopoly was established in the 1940s and has since morphed into an immutable fact.

A drought, a megafire crisis, a pandemic and unrelenting floods have all come in quick succession of late, and this has been accompanied by a collapse in public trust of government, with an understanding that both majors are offering no real semblance of difference in societal outcomes.

So, when this federal election began to appear on the horizon, there was a widespread feeling of despondency over this regular choice.

However, that was before the full light of dawn revealed a new way forward whereby progressive minor parties and independents could very well be making significant differences in policy outcomes during the next term.

When blue fades to teal

After a near decade in government, the Liberal Nationals coalition is under threat. This is for a litany of reasons, but primarily its due to its unfaltering prioritisation of the fossil fuels industry beyond any other position.

This is to the point that internationally the Morrison government has led our nation to be seen as one of the top three climate criminals on the planet. And our chief buffoon’s performance at the COP26 was an affront to the millions around the globe already perishing due to fossil fuel extraction.

But what has really driven home the fact that those governing represent the mining industry to a much greater degree than the people, is that the Coalition, as a cohesive body, continues to refuse to act on climate despite the devastation local extreme weather events have wrought.

Independent federal MP Zali Steggall took the blue-ribbon seat of Warringah from former Liberal leader Tony Abbott at the last federal election.

The current member achieved this running on a platform that prioritised climate action, after the ex-prime minister had held the seat for a quarter of a century.

This election now sees a group of independent candidates, who’ve become known as the teal independents, running in some of the nation’s wealthiest electorates, which are regularly guaranteed to the Liberals.

And the teal candidates are posing a genuine threat to these key seats, as they’re prioritising climate action.

A splash of red

The nation is now expecting that Labor leader Anthony Albanese will be the 31st prime minister of this country, as he’s perked up during the election campaign, despite a few statistical slip ups. And a  great deal of the community is expecting his government to be in the minority.

After its shock loss at the May 2019 election, Labor seemed to collapse into a catatonic state of not knowing how to act during much of the current term. The opposition either failed to oppose positions put by the Morrison government or refused to outline its own policy positions on others.

Over the last term, the Australian constituency has also become savvy to the fact that Labor has become a much more conservative entity, with a position on climate that’s lacking and, in terms of building the surveillance state, it considers that an ongoing bipartisan project.

But as the vote draws closer, Albanese has presented an alternative to another term of the Coalition, and his party has committed to more progressive issues, such as minimum wage increases, an anticorruption commission, an end to temporary protection visas, and a hastier move to renewables.

So, a likely scenario is that Labor won’t win enough seats to rule outright and it will rely on the support of a progressive crossbench made up of minor members, like the Australian Greens, as well as forward-looking independents to support their policies but also amend them for the better.

No bluish hue in green

The Australian Greens are next Saturday looking to secure a record number of seats in the parliament for a minor, as the party’s policy platform encompasses what most citizens are looking for in terms of climate action and social justice.

On launching its platform last Thursday, the Greens outlined that, in balance of power, it will be pushing Labor to abolish the ABF and establish a non-militarised customs agency. And the party would also aim for an end to offshore detention and turning back the boats.

In response, the Liberals went on the attack, claiming these policies would pose a risk to our borders, when in reality the grassroots multicultural, multi-faith and diverse population of Australia, no longer wants innocent and desperate people to be tortured on its behalf.

The Greens are also prioritising replacing coal and gas with 100 percent renewables, which is a policy that includes transitioning fossil fuel workforces into those of the renewables industry. And another key priority is forging First Nations justice with a focus on establishing a treaty.

Support is currently rising for the Australian Greens as they’re listening to the constituency and reflecting its wants and needs.

And the minor party is not being bankrolled by the fossil fuel, military or animal agricultural industries and nor is it drafting laws on their behalf, whilst making false promises.

Diversity will forge change

Of course, there are a plethora of independents with progressive, forward-thinking policies. Andrew Wilkie and Steggall are already in the house. While there are Social Justice Independents Gerry Georgatos and Megan Krakouer running for the Senate in WA.

So, it’s very likely that at the polling booth this weekend, you may hear a person respond to another who explains that they’re just about to vote for either Labor or the Liberals, “Why on Earth would you waste your once-in-a-three-year vote on one of the majors?”

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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