Tomorrow’s election is the first I can remember in a long time with a clear point of difference between the major parties. Certainly it was a courageous call on the part of Labor to take on the Federal Group’s pub pokies monopoly.
It was also courageous on the part of the Liberals to so clearly throw in their fortunes with the top end of town to support something that does so much harm down the bottom end of town. In any other circumstance such blatant support of a rich mate’s monopoly would not have passed the pub test. But since the pubs are anything but neutral ground in this dispute it will have to be tested around the kitchen table tomorrow morning before you go to vote.
“Sorry kids, there’s no Weetbix this morning. Dad put his pay packet through the pokies while he was exercising his democratic right of freedom of choice. The silly old bugger.”
“Wait on kids, Mum doesn’t understand the principle at stake here. You’ll thank me one day. If we let them take away a flutter on the pokies the next thing is you’ll grow up to find they’ve taken away your right to have a drink and a smoke.”
After Brexit and Trump I don’t make big calls on election results. I just can’t pick them any more such is the volatility of the political landscape. Labor’s Rebecca White is definitely the underdog while Will Hodgman and the Liberals should expect a narrow victory. But what if between them they only have the numbers to form a coalition government? I’ve speculated on this before. If they stick to their words, in a hung parliament that is now their only honest course of action. They’ve both clearly ruled out the Greens.
Tomorrow, don’t be bullied into voting for only one party. It is your democratic right (even more than having a flutter) to vote across the paper for candidates of your choice. The best people aren’t all in the one party. Again it’s your choice rather than the choice of the party factions.
It is fundamental in our Westminster system of government that the peoples’ choice is supreme. Political leaders are, if I may coin a phrase, ‘at the Bec and call of the Will of the people’ and are expected to submit to your wishes.
The Prime Minister or the Premier is by tradition the leader who can cobble together the numbers to pass money bills on the floor of the lower house. When our Constitution was drawn up political parties were not even mentioned in that document. Whatever the parties tell you, it is your right to vote for whomever you wish and the politicians’ job is to form a workable government. If the present leaders can’t do that then inevitably someone else will. It is unacceptable to send the electorate back to the polls, like naughty children, until they get it right.
Dictatorships like China and North Korea demand 100 percent majority governments. In the free world 90 percent of governments are negotiated from a minority position. Which do you prefer? In New Zealand the new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cobbled together a government although ten seats short of the long-ruling National Party. The Nationals had arrogantly promised to govern only in their own right so Ardern nimbly slipped into the Treasury benches by forming an alliance with New Zealand First and the Greens.
The poor old Nats are still wondering how that happened.
In Tasmania it is perfectly reasonable to describe Bec White, as ‘attractive’ but don’t use that word in New Zealand. On ‘60 Minutes’ this week I used that word to describe the 37 year-old pregnant Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. I’m not sure what is the most common meaning of ‘attractive’ in the land where sheep are nervous but it ‘attracted’ fury among the splenetic trolls of Kiwi social media.
My grandfather was a Kiwi (I narrowly avoided a very nasty case of dual citizenship). I remember he once described the label of a bottle of whisky we gave him as ‘attractive’ but I think unlike me, he got away with it.
Despite the negative commentary on unsociable media my film crew and I actually had a great time with the PM and her TV star husband Clarke Gayford. They actually liked the story. The PM gave me a tour of the beautiful old Parliament House in Wellington. Clarke has his own fishing show and so we went fishing in the Bay of Islands, caught a few snapper and had a wonderful day. Now I am waiting to hear what the Kiwi animal rights lobby has to say about that.
There is so much mean-spiritedness abroad these days sometimes you just have to cop it.
But tomorrow is your day in politics and you can win. Please don’t see voting as a dreary chore. Tear up the how to vote cards and make your own choices. This is a small community so forget the parties and vote across the board for people you feel you can trust and for the candidates you find attractive.
I mean in the politically correct sense of the word, of course.