Official: Election 2010 was the show about nothing
All around Australia, voters are emerging from their post-election hangovers to nibble at a McMuffin and wonder about what just happened.
Australian politics is usually so nice, clear and conventional. Remember those Howard days when nothing seemed to change? Now we are left with something called a hung parliament that sounds like it belongs in a wardrobe or a porno.
Still, no wonder the election result is confused. It has been an entirely confusing campaign – where all the normal laws of nature (inexplicably) didn’t apply.
Over the past five weeks, both Labor and the Coalition worked double time, contorting this way and that, so they wouldn’t look any different from each other. A bit like that scene in The Life of Brian when the crowd roars in unison, “we’re all individuals!”
Despite the fact they have very different ideologies, structures and frontbenches - and we know that in practice, a Labor government would be very different from a Coalition one - there was barely a policy or presentational difference between them.
Would you like the suit with the blue backdrop talking about working families or the suit with the blue backdrop talking about families working?
The leaders did nothing to help the confusion. Tony “Mr Mad Monk Rabbit” Abbott - who used to stir things up with quips about women and ironing boards - ran a near gaffe-free campaign. The guy was more on message than an answering machine. And with his paid parental leave policy and bevy of beautiful daughters at his side, he almost seemed more pro-chick than Gillard.
Indeed, eye rolling about feminazis aside, it is truly astounding that Australia’s first female Prime Minister, running against a man who talks about virginity as a gift, could not stir up a girl power vote. But the People’s Ranga, who is well-renowned for her wit and candour, was Ruddly robotic and disappointingly unconvincing on the trail.
Even after “real Julia” came out to play, it was as if in getting rid of Kevin she had been cursed with his weakest attributes.
Not that Kev had wandered too far from the scene. Despite the need to get to know two new leaders, the campaign seemed more interested in previous candidates, rather than those currently applying for the prime ministerial gig.
Rudd, the man who wasn’t technically there, was everywhere – from the UN, to the operating table and the Labor launch. This was made all the curiouser by the fact that until very recently, he was seen as a national embarrassment – a complete dudbot. Yet all of a sudden, he was St Kevin of Queensland. A political martyr and the great white hope of the ALP.
Meanwhile, back at the funny farm, Mark Latham put on a reporter’s hat and waded out into the choppy waters of the trail for a bit of biff and reflux, taking up a nice chunk of valuable airtime as he went.
As for the Greens, they may have romped home with the balance of power, their highest ever primary vote and a seat at the big kids table in the lower house – but environmental issues were mere background noise in the campaign. Both parties copped a bit of flak because they weren’t doing anything about climate change and there the debate stayed.
It was an oddly similar situation with national security policy. There was continued hyped disquiet over boat people who don’t represent a genuine threat to our safety (just the prospect of holding Western Sydney seats). But there was utter silence from the major parties over the fact that we’re currently involved in Australia’s longest running war. A very unpeaceful invasion where real Australians are being killed.
To top it all off, the epically dull campaign ended (or is ending) in a nail biter. Despite all the scrutiny of the two main horses, the government will be determined by five men no one was talking about before 8.30 on Saturday night.
The added irony being that for weeks, talkback has been full of people just begging for it all to end. But even though we’ve now voted, partied and recovered, it’s not over yet.
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