(Inter)National Nitpickery

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Curious about world news, events or the occasional Australian political blunder? Every edition, we’ll be deconstructing politics and topical events from the outside world, poking the shitty bits with a nice long stick and commenting on its tangy smell. Perhaps we’ll find a nugget of golden wisdom lurking within?

Regardless of what side of politics you lean towards, there’s no doubt that this recent election has been quite the show. With the Coalition shooting themselves in the foot with a double dissolution, Labour’s “Mediscare”, and not to mention the cacophony of independents and minor parties in the Senate, it’s certainly been quite the shitstorm. At the time of writing, it appears as if the LNP will form a very weak majority government, so the outlook is either grim or entertaining depending on your preference. If anything, this election and its pitiful fart of a result have at least provided spicy fuel for Stalkerspace and the Facebook meme pages.

The real question now is, what can we as uni students minding our own business glean from this election? And what might its result mean for the next three years. It’s worth taking note of the unexpected popularity of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the overall huge increase in votes for minor parties and independents across Australia. Many were taken by surprise when it was revealed Pauline Hanson would be re-elected into the Senate, and rightfully so. After almost 2 decades of controversy and racist comments, including being found guilty of electoral fraud in 2003 for fraudulently registering her party, it’s absurd that we still have her clawing her way back into Australian politics. With policies calling for a total ban on Muslim immigration and a Royal Commission into Islam and climate science, Hanson’s One Nation has been causing shock and disbelief amongst the reasonable-minded population.

Australia prides itself on multicultural acceptance, and the ANU is a brilliant example of this with around 30% of students coming from overseas – indeed many with an Islamic background. It certainly worries me, as it should you, that there was a significant enough portion of the Queensland population that someone with these outright racist agendas has now been elected into the Senate. Without getting lost in disbelief and blinding rage at the 9% of QLD and 4% of NSW voters who enabled this, we need to take a step back and take a good hard look at how this happened.

It’s easy to rush to the conclusion that this is a result of classic, blatant Australian racism at work, but I have a feeling the reason is much subtler than that. Hanson’s rhetoric and policies appeals to both unskilled and uneducated minorities; those who have felt as if they’ve been handed the short end of the stick by both major political parties. By using policies inspired by both nationalism and economic socialism (much like how Trump has done in the US), she gathers the immediate support of the people disenfranchised by our capitalist economic system. It’s a complicated problem, and one which can only be remedied with education and understanding, rather than scoffs of disapproval.

People losing touch with our major political parties is certainly not new though, as I’m sure you’re well aware. With the election and prior political ramblings being noted as “7 months of absolute waffle” from both sides, and with the majority of voters having utterly lost interest in it all up until election day, the rise of One Nation, Xenophon Team and various independents shouldn’t come as a surprise. This election saw an unprecedented number of voters putting independents and minor parties as first preference (20% in house of reps and almost ¼ of total votes for the Senate). With the end result being a nigh unworkable Upper House, it’s long past time both sides of the field start listening to the people a bit more closely, and hopefully end the bullshit hollow slogans and buzzword campaigns.

As for us students, there’s never been a more important time to have our voices heard, before extremist agendas and disconnected political parties make these next 3 years even more painful than the last.