Disconnection and Apathy

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Australians don’t care much for politicians or governments, which seems strange when you look at the incredibly regulated and government controlled society we inhabit.  The level of apathy in the average voter is well documented, has been the status quo for decades and no significant change is apparent today.[1]  There have been many recommendations to put more into the education system on the topic, to create more civic minded and active citizens; but actions are hard to find.[2]  There is a new generation of young adults who are far more ecologically minded and focused on the unsustainable world they are living in.  However, they are being more than balanced by the huge baby boomer population,[3] who have failed to provide for the future generations; instead leaving a massive financial debt for their retirement years and even larger environmental debt with climate change.[4]

This apathy and disconnection with politics has meant the majority of Australians do not understand the political system and their only engagement with it is at election times.  This means there is no great pressure on politicians to do anything more than appear in public and on the media stating the party slogans repeatedly.  Until the people of Australia demand more from their representatives, they will be stuck with the government they deserve.

 The fundamental conflict in world views between generations, global and environmental instead of local and selfish, causes even further distancing of most of the population from baby boomer politicians who cannot maintain any relevance or attraction for the new audience.

One third of Australians did not vote for either major party.[5]  If each major party only received a third of the votes, how did anybody form a government?  Since 2010, minority governments are the new standard.  Labor, the Greens and two independent members formed their first coalition in 2010 and then the conservative coalition of four parties won in 2013.  So the truth is, Australia is really a six party system with small parties and independents making up the gap.  It is clear that many Australians no longer follow either old party exclusively; a trend that has been growing steadily since 1990.[6]  In fact, the division of votes away from the two old parties has not been so extreme since the 1940 election, which was also the last hung parliament before the 2010 Gillard led government.

The reality is Australians are showing constant discontent with the old party actions, leadership and direction and keep voting away from them.  The problem is that neither old party have showed much interest in re-engaging with the electorate; rather treating voters as ignorant fools who can be easily manipulated with campaigns based on slogans, lies and hypocrisy.

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