Monday, 3 September 2007

Who Gets My Vote

I like to think of myself as a swinging voter. Each time an election is called, I will take the time to do my research on the various parties and determine which of them will most closely represent my views on the issues important to me. It takes a bit of time to do, but is part of the responsibility of a citizen of a democracy.

There are plenty of people who vote according to family tradition and I used to be one of those. Mind you, I also took this approach when deciding which football team to support. With regard to football teams, this seems to work well. The team will rise and fall through the seasons - occasionally winning the championship. But football is just a game. Politics is something more serious than football.

Although I'm sure that there aren't any newspaper editors or federal policy makers reading this, I'm going to list the top priorities for me as we approach the next Australian federal election.

In the last Queensland election, I had a choice of three parties in my electorate. Only one of them even had a policy about poverty. I was enraged about this for a day or so. And then I voted for the only party that had taken the trouble to even think about the issue and put it into writing. We are a prosperous society and if we don't use our prosperity to help those in need then we ought to be ashamed. Any party that wants to control community funds (hooray for taxes) should be using that money to benefit those in the community who need help.

Although I'm pursuing postgraduate studies, I don't think that this is appropriate for everyone. A society could not function if all members of it were doctors, lawyers or experts in English literature. There is a place for that kind of education, but I hardly think that we would have enough people to do the mundane work that goes into an industrialised society. Someone needs to operate the garbage truck. Someone is required to be a waiter in a restaurant. Someone needs to do data entry in an accounts firm. That said, we should tailor education for vocation. A carpenter has no need for a university place, but they do need a place in a technical college along with a business that is prepared to take them on during an apprenticeship. This requires good policy in education and in business relations.

It is not enough that a nation should have a plan for forceful defence as a response to violence by others. I am looking for a party that will work for peace. I want my government to be a maker of peace. "Blessed are the peace makers," said Jesus. "Power to the peaceful," said Michael Franti. Any political party that is not committed to establishing peace through peaceful means in the world is not going to get my vote.

We are a nation of wealth and intelligence. We should be using this position to eliminate poverty, improve our community through relevant education and actively creating peace by peaceful means.
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