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There has been quite a bit of discussion about negative politics in Australia over the past few years. The funny thing is that politics is usually negative and depending on your political leaning anything could be negative. I do accept that under the current leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, the political discussion has taken a darker even more negative turn. Then we are told to believe that the Australian Liberal Party leader is a positive figure for Australia!
With the federal election well under way, the 24 hour news cycle now feels obsolete. While there is still a role to play for traditional media this Australian election has shown that it does not quite know what that role is just yet. Newspapers and television news seem to be lost between making the Australian Federal Election into a Big Brother contest and trying to do some serious journalism.
There are certainly some journalists out there who are taking the issues seriously but many know the reality that they are not serving the news up to citizens but to consumers. The fourth estate has now been reduced to a few plots of digital real estate and tiny sections of newspapers and television shows. Rupert Murdoch has shown us that the majority of Australia’s print media in particular is just a megaphone to extol the values of its various owners.
Disenfranchisement is a word I don’t often use because it means to lose your voice and your right to play a part in society. However, the word is perfect for describing a large chunk of the Australian public that no longer believe either of the two major political forces – Labor and Liberal – or have any real connection to the niche offerings of the Greens, Bob Katter’s Australia Party or the fun house that is Clive Palmer’s United Party.
What does that leave Australian voters with during the Australian election? The Socialist Alliance? Well, if you enjoy long holidays on collective farms and spending the rest of your year just protesting anything and everything then maybe that’s for you. The only other places to throw your vote is towards the highly specific parties such as The Sex Party (yes, this is a real party in Australia) the HEMP Party (help end marijuana prohibition) or if you enjoy outdoor pursuits why not the Fishers and Shooters Party.