bird with socks

So, How Was It For You?

30 October 2013

Farrago asks four students from the major parties how they felt about the federal election. The results may surprise you.

 

Kara Hadgraft, UMSU President and Labor member. Kara campaigned for Cath Bowtell in the seat of Melbourne.

I remember the Coalition leadership spill back in late 2009, listening with incredulity to the result—the party room had elected gaffeprone Tony Abbott. Given his ultra-conservatism and documented views on women and their bodily autonomy, it seemed unlikely that he would last until the 2010 election, let alone be elected Prime Minister four years later.

As a young person, I have a number of concerns about the future of this country under an Abbott government. Secure work is one issue with the likelihood of a return to individual contracts, removing the unions’ right to enter workplaces and increasing casualisation is a threat to young people and to all working adults generally. Along with the likely roll-back of a lot of legislative progress made against discrimination based on gender, sex, sexuality, religion, ability and race.

I am also concerned about the future of higher education.

The Liberals under Howard preferred a ‘user pays’ approach, which favours the wealthy and wealthier institutions. Domestic Undergraduate Full Fee places (DUFFs) (which were subsequently abolished in 2008), allowed parents to buy their children’s way into University should they not receive a high enough ATAR. The Howard government also saw two HECS increases; in 1996 the three tier system was introduced, and at the same time, HECS was increased by 60%. In 2005 the Liberal government allowed increases to fees of up to 25%.

So what is on the cards for an Abbott government? Complete fee deregulation looks likely, which would see institutions like Melbourne University being able to charge what they like, excluding significant numbers of students from top institutions. The Students Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) which funds your student union including clubs and societies, bands & BBQs, theatre, advocacy and legal, the Rowden White Library and Farrago; childcare on campus; MU Sport; and a raft of student services, is likely to be abolished.

Education is the great social equaliser in society and if we restrict its access financially, we are only going to see a larger divide develop between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. The contribution of universities and those with university qualifications to our society and economy cannot be underestimated—universities are a public good and need to be publicly funded.

A consoling thought was given on Saturday night to a group of us young’uns by Cath Bowtell, the Labor candidate for the seat of Melbourne. As we drowned our sorrows in pints of Carlton we were reminded that just six years ago, the day after the 2007 election, the highest Liberal in the land was Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne. We can see that fortunes change very quickly and that complete ascendancy of one party across the top two tiers of government is untenable.

 

Matthew Lesh, UMSU student council and Liberal member. Matthew campaigned for Kevin Ekendahl in the seat of Melbourne Ports.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared on election night that Australia is open for business and announced the end of dysfunctional government. This election gave all Australians a definitive choice on what they wanted for our future, and we chose a Liberal-National Coalition Government.

Tony Abbott’s campaign was smooth, disciplined, and consistent throughout. The branding and design was nationally consistent. The messaging was effectively targeted at the community’s disquiet with Labor, and Kevin Rudd, in contrast to the Coalition’s positive plan.

The 62 policies, and over 800 pages of detail, were fully costed and well thought out. The policies showed distinctive vision for Australia’s future. This ranged from lowering the company tax, and ending the carbon tax, to developing northern Australia, and providing FEE-HELP loan support to apprentices.

In contrast, what started as ‘A New Way’ from Kevin Rudd, and a call to end negative campaigning, soon turned into a scare campaign about alleged “cuts, cuts, cuts”. This scare campaign simply didn’t stand up to scrutiny. In an unprecedented step, Treasury, Finance, and the Parliamentary Budget Office confirmed the alleged black hole in costings simply did not exist. The policy detail confirmed that there are no cuts to education or healthcare.

All the lies during the campaign had the opposite of the intended impact: they reminded Australians that they simply cannot trust Labor. The return of Rudd to the leadership also had the opposite of the intended impact: it reminded Australians about the splits, chaos, and disunity of stabbing two Prime Ministers in the back within a six year period.

Labor’s campaign had a new ineffective line every day, making it impossible to understand their message. Policies were consistently announced as press releases with zero detail or costing. The Rudd plane was not communicating with Labor’s campaign headquarters in Melbourne, leading to policy announcements on the run and disorganisation. There was simply nothing smooth about Labor’s campaign, but there were countless screw-ups.

Rumours of the Liberal Party’s death in 2007, as was forecast in commentary at the time, were greatly exaggerated. The Liberal Party now holds government at a federal level, across the four most populous states, and the Northern Territory, and looks likely to win government in Tasmania and South Australia next year.

Paul Keating famously said in the dying days of the 1996 campaign that “when you change the government, you change the country”. On September 7, Australians voted for a change in the way our society functions and the role of government. They voted for stability, smaller government, lower taxes, lower debt, and less waste.

 

Stephen Polesel, President of the Melbourne University Greens Club and Greens member. Stephen campaigned for Adam Bandt in the seat of Melbourne.

In a convincing win, Tony Abbott and the Coalition have taken office as the government of Australia. Some pundits predicted a bigger landslide against the Labor Party and I was personally surprised to see a number of key marginal seats retained. Liberal candidate for Greenway Jaymes Diaz was fortunately not elected to Parliament, following a devastating television interview in which he failed to remember the coalition’s “six-point plan to stop the boats”, or the details of any other policy for the matter.

We expected an Abbott Government, but things could have been worse. The Australian Greens have defied the odds and returned Adam Bandt as the member for Melbourne in the House of Representatives. This will be the third Parliament in which the Greens have elected members in the upper and lower Houses (Michael Organ was elected as the member for Cunningham in the House of Representatives in the 2002 by-election).

Despite Tony Abbott’s ‘captain’s call’ to preference the Greens last in every seat in Australia, Adam Bandt was re-elected with a huge 7% surge in his primary vote to 43%, compared to Labor candidate Cath Bowtell’s 27%. Even with the majority of Liberal preferences flowing to Bowtell, the Greens retained the seat in a display of phenomenal grass-roots activism. A staggering 584 active volunteers were in involved in the campaign. In the final weekend before the election, these volunteers knocked on over 10,000 doors and in the final 24 hours of the election (including polling day), volunteers reached 2,800 voters. Campaign strategists estimate that close to 71,000 voters in the electorate of Melbourne were contacted, many of them on numerous occasions.

In light of a broader swing to the right in Australia, it is comforting to know that inner-city voters are unhappy about the old parties’ inhumane asylum seeker policies, lack of political will for marriage equality and the dismal lack of leadership in tackling climate change. Victoria also elected its second Greens Senator, Janet Rice, and Scott Ludlum and Sarah Hanson-Young are hoping to retain their senate seats in Western Australia and South Australia respectively. Peter WhishWilson has been elected Greens Senator for Tasmania. The next few years will be a crucial time for the Greens to consolidate the party’s good results in Victoria and elsewhere, while working towards increasing the vote in NSW and Queensland. The election of Adam Bandt proves that Melburnians will make their own decisions at the polls, even if the old parties are intent upon eliminating the Greens from Parliament. What makes Adam’s campaign special is the tireless commitment of university students and young people who are committed to making politics better.

In 2013 Australia ushers in a conservative government that “will stop the boats”; cut $4.5 billion in foreign aid; abolish the carbon tax and keep over $2 billion of university funding cuts. In 2013 Melbourne has defied the nationwide swing towards the Coalition, and of this we can be proud. It is important that the Greens now look to the future, building upon this great result for the Victorian State Election in 2014.

 

Bird With Socks, a bird with socks.

Election day is pretty squawkward for me at the best of times. They don’t make polling booths small enough for footwear loving birdlife, and there are never any insectivorous sausage options. But this time around really had me in a flap because I had no idea who to vote for.

Mr. Abbott is unashamedly disrespectful of avian rights; no one who smuggles budgies so publicly would ever have my vote. Unfortunately I don’t like Mr. Rudd much better. People tell me all the time I am a distinctly zippy walker so “Gotta zip” was my thing. He took my catch phrase and made it stockingly daggy.

So with the two big ones out of the running I had to turn to the minor parties. You’d think with 97 candidates on the senate ballot there would have been at least one candidate who supported low price striped indoor socks and nesting equality. The Greens are generally up there for me; they all love my feathery ways and want to save me from extinction. Aparrotly Julian Assange is kind of in a cage, so I can empathise with him; I too was caged by Ecuadorians before the Farrago editors set me free.

Despite these two getting my voting love, that budgie smuggling bandit still managed to get elected. I was pretty socked by the results to be honest; under an Abbott government I think the future looks pretty beak. I guess now I can only hope the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts are pro bird with socks even though I don’t have a motor.


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