With Scott Morrison demoting his oft-missing Environment Minister and moving back his tax cuts, I think a quick review might be in order.
As you must be all too aware by now, Australia enacted its own version of Game of Thrones finale, allowing real-life Joffrey substitute Scott Morrison, along with co-conspirator (and onetime foe) Peter Dutton to retain power over the nation.
Since, we’ve had Scott Morrison move back his promised tax breaks to next year, and dismiss his long-missing and borderline fictional Environment Minister/Adani signee Melissa Price.
Clearly, life moves fast.
So, what happened?
Well, for one, it’s been shown time and again that, despite Bill Shorten’s intelligence and apparent competence, he was always fundamentally unelectable. Yes, the campaign was essentially based on the idea of “A Fair Go”, an idea which should appeal to all Aussies—and a phrase that’s often been parroted by Morrison as well to mean, essentially, the opposite—but the problem is that Shorten isn’t, and never was, an inspiring leader.
Shorten presented a watered-down version of idealism, which he and the Labor Party hoped would be palatable to the public, and wasn’t. despite the fact that this country already has no water and will continue to have less as climate change ravages our nation. As someone who is young enough to likely live through some part of the climate apocalypse, this feels like it was the last chance election to really do something—anything—before the climate apocalypse becomes us.
Instead of headlining every article with “Labor want you to survive the next 12 years” and “The Libs, One Nation, Clive Palmer all doubt the impending climate apocalypse”, newspaper editors—and I blame them, not the writers themselves—focused on people’s wallets. Even people who aren’t that wealthy voted to protect the wealthy, because there is the implied hope that one day, they will be wealthy.
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It’s not even worth mentioning the idiots who donkey voted, a practice so inane in a time when voting is literally a matter between doing something to stop a cataclysmic future and doing nothing that it boggles the mind. And yet, I must mention them.
What this weekend’s vote also showed was that a not-insignificant number of young people–Millennials being numerically dominant—voted Liberal as well. Whether through name recognition, voting their parents’ way, a lack of caring, or a genuine right-leaning, an indefensible number of people in my age bracket voted against their own futures.
Australia is often a disappointment to many people. As musician and activist Briggs stated, “Blackfullas are used to disappointment in other Australians.” And I can’t help but agree. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, the very first political speech my family watched when we arrived here in 1996 was Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech. Immigrants, LGBTQIA+ people, POC, First Nations people, Jews, Muslims, any minority often feels disappointed and let down by the people and governments of Australia. This election felt—however fleetingly—like maybe, maybe it would be different.
But perhaps that was naive. Perhaps it was naive to think that White Australia would vote in a way that helped their non-white family. Naive to think that people would care about the environment when we’ve done such a good job at presenting those kinds of people as “useless hippies”. To think that anyone would examine why an Adani coal mine was a bad idea and that it would not truly bring in long-term job prospects, unlike the sustainable energy sector.
Perhaps it was naive to think that anything would change.