There is more than one new kid moving to Capital Hill. However, Ricky Muir, the newly elected federal senator representing Australia’s Motoring Enthusiast Party, has caused waves of concern in the quagmire of media and politics.
Politicians are pushing for electoral reform as they reveal contempt at the fact that someone receiving only 0.50 percent of the primary vote could win a senate seat. All I can think is how glad I am that it is possible for people who stray from the Liberal and Labor parties to have representation in our Houses of Parliament.
Ricky Muir is a father of five. He lives in the country and recently lost his job when the local saw-mill closed down. To me, he sounds like he has an abundance of life experiences and knows the reality of problems facing a father and a working class citizen. Muir has been elected on a clear platform that addresses issues such as safer roads, uniform road laws and better driver education. In 2012, more than 1,300 Australians died on our roads. This is profoundly more than the number of people who die trying to come to Australia via boat, or even more than the amount of Australians who die overseas each year. According to the Australian Automobile Association, car crashes cost the Australian economy around 27 billion dollars each year. So why is everyone scorning Ricky Muir?
On the news, reporters have been addressing Muir with a condescending air as they question his economic and foreign policy. A video of Muir flicking kangaroo poo at his brother has gone viral on T.V. and social media sites. Images of him spitting in the grass are replayed. Reporters ask whether he even owns a suit. Muir doesn’t own a suit.
To me, flicking roo poo and pulling down your friend’s pants is not an abominable offence. In fact, I think it shows that he has embodied the sense of ‘mateship’ and ‘larrikinism’ that Australian politicians always try to evoke among the populace. I mean, its not like he put a boar carcass in someone’s bed. I am sure Tony Abbott got up to all and worse at his time at St Johns College in Sydney. During Question Time you always see politicians raging at each other. What comes to mind is Senator Mary Jo Fisher doing the hokey pokey. Many have likened Question Time to a zoo. Primates like to throw shit at each other, as do politicians. To be honest, I think that Muir will refrain from his shit-throwing behaviour in Parliament. He wants to prove that your average Australian can represent your average Australian. Most Australians own or part-own a car, so why is it not considered legitimate to run for parliament on a ticket based on motoring?
These pushes for grassroots change are scorned upon, not only by news reporters and Liberal and Labor politicians, but also by young university students who believe that the voice of a twenty-something-year-old Green going for a seat in the House of Representatives has better credentials than a middle-aged father of five.
Furthermore, the newly elected senator Wayne Drupolich, who represents the Sporting Party, has also come under much criticism for not representing the “big issues”. Drupolich stands for healthy living and encouraging Australians to live well. To encourage sporting is to discourage obesity and activities such as heavy drinking and smoking. These three factors cause the biggest burden on our health system. Although Drupolich admits that he does not have a defined position on issues such as the Syrian Intervention, he stated that he would develop his view as issues came forth by analysing the appropriate evidence.
Politicians’ ideas and platforms need to be malleable to suit the ever-changing issues that arise in politics. New technologies that evolve each day and changing global pressures mean that politicians should be able to shift their views according to newly found evidence. The fact that Tony Abbott is determined to stick to his National Broadband Network plan, even though the facts show that it is inefficient, reveals that inflexibility is a burden, rather than a signifier of respectability. Thus, having minor parties in the senate, who do not have concrete opinions about every single issue prevalent in politics, can be beneficial rather than detrimental to the populace.
Australian politics is slowly growing and our politicians are gradually starting to reflect our diverse communities. It will never be a mirror image, however it is important that we have leaders that reflect our demographics. There is need to reform our system of voting. However, it should be done so as to ensure that we have a more diverse parliament rather than a monotonic one. We need to support these minor-party representatives, however absurd their ideas may seem to us. We need to support them because they give us hope that we have the power to elect someone who doesn’t speak for the interests of Rupert Murdoch and rather speaks for the interest of your average Australian who owns a car, enjoys sport and wants to ensure their family live in a happy, healthy and safe environment.