I have a sad admission to make. I didn’t vote in the last Australian federal election.
Reason? I’m in America, and didn’t get the ballot until after the election (yeah, an excuse rather than a reason. Let me try again…). Labor sucked and so did Liberal. (That’s more like it.) I didn’t know enough about the policies to make an informed choice because I’m in America and the only Australian politics I get are contained within the wildly superficial mainstream media, and tweets of my largely left-wing (sometimes ill informed and definitely idealistic) friend base on Twitter.
I reckon it’s probably a good thing I didn’t vote as far as democracy being based on an informed public is concerned.
But the Australian government disagreed.
In Australia you have to vote. If you don’t vote, yet get fined. I think it’s $75. It’s a good revenue raiser for Australia (ka-ching!). Most people hate politics and the thought of leaving your house to go and vote on what is typically one of the last weekends in March (ie one of the last warm weekends of the season) to shove a choice between two bad options in a box is just too hard. So people just don’t bother or they turn up and write obnoxious swearing all over the ballot before putting it in the box. (Because that’s so much more fulfilling than just putting the blank ballot in the box.) The trouble with “democracy” is that most people JUST. DON’T. CARE. More than once while in Australia I nearly forgot to vote – even when all the schools were open with posters and waving and crap, and media coverage was better, and people were talking about politics. My dad reminded me at 5.50pm and I had to drive like a bat out of a dark cave up to my primary school to be the last person in Sydney to put the ballot in. And not get fined.
Anyway, it’s not surprising that I didn’t vote in the last election. And I didn’t get the original fine (I’m guessing it was $75. But I’m not totally sure because I didn’t get it) in the mail because it was sent to my Australian address, which we’d sold earlier last year and the mail didn’t get to me. So of course I didn’t pay the fine.
And I forgot all about it. Because there was nothing to remember as far as I was concerned.
The Sydney Morning Herald online continued to report about how half arsed the government was, and I couldn’t stand reporters asking “so what about the carbon tax” and politicians replying with some trained monkey media response arranged around how they thought Abbott’s ears were too big to believe. Or something. And getting away with it. (You might want to do something about that, Australian media).
I did, honestly, forget all about it. *Until* (that’s a big UNTIL) I went back to Australia for a visit and got a new piece of mail telling me my drivers license had been suspended due to my non-payment of fines.
Yeah? I didn’t pay a fine?
I investigated. Pretty weird that I got a fine related to my drivers licence when I hadn’t even *driven* a car in Australia for the ENTIRE year.
And it turns out, it all happened because I didn’t vote. Yep, that’s right. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to drive either. Because the Government agency that handles traffic offences also handles fines for those who don’t vote. Incredibly, they match up the voters with their drivers’ licenses – and shaft them.
Australia, the land of rational thinking.
Oh well, I’ll definitely be voting in the next one, mainly because Alan Jones says that if women are in any way involved in politics they screw it up. Red flag to a bull.
But who to vote for? I’d like someone I can bear to hear speak (sorry Julia), who I’m not embarrassed to have as our leader (that means not you Kevin), and who I’d like to have a chat with at a BBQ (so Tony’s out too).
If only Anna Bligh would go into federal politics, I’ll be set.