thomas m wilson

A New Government in Australia

November 26th, 2007

On Saturday Australia voted for a new federal government. For the first time in eleven years we have a government that is not worthy of contempt. Those educated, left-wing Australians in their late twenties or early thirties have had a mean shopkeeper, a man whose stunted ideology of materialism they detest, leading their nation for all of their adult lives. Now he is gone. We no longer have to cringe when we hear or see that cretin on tv or the radio. We no longer have to think about moving to New Zealand.

Millions of Australian men and women voted for the Liberals on Saturday. We live in a democracy, and they lost.

I was working at a polling booth in Fremantle. While we counted votes after the doors had closed and the sun was sinking the news came through that the Australian Labor Party had won and that a sad chapter in Australia’s history had come to an end. People started to cry out ‘Howard’s out!’, and ‘Labor’s won!’ and their were smiles everywhere among those assembled. Then I went down into Fremantle with some friends and people were shouting ‘Howard’s history’ in the streets, and yahooing to strangers (including me).

I’ll remember those moments for a while to come. John Howard is history. I repeat, John Howard is history.

The Greens have five senators which means they now have party status and will get increased funding (which means more research staff). So there was good news on that front as well. Interestingly while counting votes I found that the overwhelming majority of votes which had been made below the line on the senate ballot paper were made for the Greens. A suggested conclusion? Those who think reflect deeply about politics vote for the Greens.

I noticed a well known Australian academic voting on Saturday. He is an august looking man with grey hair, and his much older looking mother was there voting as well. He helped her into a seat where she could fill out the ballot papers in comfort. She was very frail and she asked her son politely how to make sure she was giving her vote to the Greens. These were not fringe-dwelling hippies with flowers in their hair. These were intelligent, educated, compassionate and respectable citizens.

There are real differences in personality among different individuals, reflected, for example in the differences we find in the ability of different people to recognize novel stimuli (political conservatives are not so good at this). Amongst the stream of wealthy, blank faced, and often impatient Liberal voters – the Liberals won the vote in this polling both – this respectable older man and his frail old mother stood out for me. For a moment I realized that even if the Greens never form a government at least we can know that they represent the opinions of those complex, well-rounded and compassionate individuals who have truly thought about what makes a good nation. Such people may always be a minority, but they exist.

Time to sound biblical… Whatever happens on this earth, and whatever happens to this earth, the righteous shall stand tall.