When was the last time you had a chat with your local politician? I don’t mean sending them a tweet, but making an appointment to see them. If it’s been a while, read on because the reasons for doing so might just surprise you.
Heading to the polling booth is part of Australian life every few years, and our democratic activity is happily often accompanied by sausage sizzles and cake stalls. As a nation, we have enjoyed a relatively long, peaceful and stable democracy. Even in spite of how good we have had it, Australians generally still realise that living in a participatory democracy is a privilege and that the right to vote should not be treated lightly. This is reinforced when we remember that the right to vote in Federal elections was not extended to women until 1902, and only to indigenous Australians in 1962.
I like to think then that it is a sense of gratefulness, rather than the threat of a fine, that motivates us every Federal election to line up and make sense of the ever-growing Senate paper. Besides, numbering the boxes and lodging our ballot means we can return home and update our social media feeds with a poignant or witty update celebrating the fact that we’ve done our civic duty. Or have we?
What happens until the next election? Do we tune out until the next election campaign, and then mute the tv ads, throw out the mail outs and do some last minute research on who these parties are on the way to vote? It’s understandable in many ways. Life is full and diaries are fuller and we can feel disenfranchised and marginalised from the ‘business of politics’ and the way it is reported.
And yet I’d suggest that in between elections we have an abundance of opportunities to make a difference. It’s as simple as 1,2,3!
What are those three? I’m glad you asked… We’ll reflect on these three steps over the new few blog posts in this series so visit again soon.