Australian Elections and the Insufficiency of Voting

Electoral politics can be a dirty business, especially in Australia.

The major parties, Labor (ALP) and the Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP) play an intense, 5-week game of ‘catch-all’ policy making, and try to discredit each other.

This happens between candidates for the House of Representatives, the Senate (at this point Greens & Independents are contenders too), and at a national level between candidates for the Prime Ministership. It all plays out very publicly, streamed around the clock via television networks, media outlets and increasingly through social media and online communities.

Two overly crafted personalities are created and forced down our throats until we are so sick of them, we can’t WAIT to see that voting booth, if only to know all the excessive marketing will be over soon. Then it is over.

We have a new government and either you did or didn’t get what you ‘voted for’. Right?

For me, more often than not I DON’T get what I voted for, though the hung parliament of 2010 is the closest we have come so far. Never so far in Canning, the lower-house electorate I live in.

The truth is the majority of voters never get what they ‘voted for’. Continue reading Australian Elections and the Insufficiency of Voting

Interaction is awesome.

I got a response out of my last post. Some may think it was a little bit tow-the-line media regurgitation because I was talking about the good ol’ timetable. In some ways I guess those someone’s are right. Part of my reason behind writing the post was because it IS the topic of discussion and I do have opinions on it.

It’s got to be done right, but my friend is also right in asking who am I to say when is right?

I guess I am not in the position to say “when” is right but I can sure tell what is right and what is wrong.

Right would be an eventual end to the military occupation of a sovereign nation whose people have an absolute right to self-determination (elections without outside interference).

Wrong would be a withdrawal that leaves the civilians of said sovereign nation without the ability to achieve said self-determination (ie, under a dictatorship or in conditions that do not allow fair elections to be held).

Right would be leaving said civilians with access to the basic technologies and living conditions expected by any developed nation; electricity, water, sewerage, healthcare and education.

Wrong would be destroying a nations infrastructure and leaving them crippled after invading on the promise of a better future and then not deliver on that promise.

Right would be ensuring the country has a governmental system which can sustain itself; which can provide basic law, order and municipality services for its people and.

Wrong is not caring enough to find out what needs to be done to achieve those ends.

Right is approaching the local populations and asking what YOU can do for THEM to make THEIR lives better and in turn encouraging them to cooperate with both yourself and each other.

So if we are going to set a timetable it needs to include all those things which are RIGHT and none of those which are WRONG; but it also needs a SENSIBLE timeline to ensure all those involved that not only is there an end-goal, but there IS enough time to achieve it.

Mayhap I was too fast to say that the label of “occupation” must end by 2010; but then again maybe I’m not. In ideal circumstance it’s probably not too much to ask. But nothing is ever ideal and what’s going on in Iraq today is no exception.

A (withdrawal) timetable is necessary.

A timetable for withdrawal from Iraq is a necessity. Any kind of political advancement depends on it. Iraqi citizen bloggers will tell you the same. In fact it is they who convinced me of this.

But what kind of withdrawal timetable can the US set to begin a feasible large-scale withdrawal from Iraq?

The Coalition leadership is unwilling to leave Iraq until political stability has been achieved and headway is being made towards reconciliation (if at all) and this isn’t going to just “happen”. Only a change of government could break the political deadlock Iraq is currently experiencing and it’s clear the current government won’t be uprooted on the US clock. Not under current US doctrine for reshaping the Middle East anyway.

So it seems we are to wait for a new set of Iraqi elections. But the next set of elections are not due for many years to come. The last elections were held in December 2005 but the first session was not held until March 16. 2006 and according to the Iraqi constitution “The electoral term of the Council of Representatives shall be four calendar years, starting with its first session and ending with the conclusion of the fourth year.”

The next elections must be held “forty-five days before the conclusion of the preceding electoral term”. Thus the next elections are due January 29, 2010.

The US must start to significantly draw down combat forces long before this point if the next round of elections are to be considered any more legitimate than the last. Not all Iraqi communities will accept elections until the shroud of “occupation” is eliminated.

This means that by 2010 the coalition needs to reduce combat forces in Iraq down to a level which no longer constitutes an occupying force. Combat forces should begin seriously returning home by Christmas 2008 and be replaced by investment in real reconstruction programs.

Which means employing Iraqi contractors to build the new electrical grid and coming good with the promises of new generators and power plants to supply it. It means facilitating the return of displaced persons to their homes, especially those with skills in construction, health, education and other essential services.

This timetable MUST be set during the US election campaign. Only a strong timetable can begin to give direction to what is otherwise an open-ended, bloody occupation. Such a plan can act to reassure Iraqi and American civilians that there will be an end to this horrific occupation and that Iraq is not going to be the launching platform for future oil-wars in Iran and the Middle East. Perhaps it would even act to prevent unnecessarily escalation of tensions in the region.

However to believe any of this can actually happen is probably being overly optimistic; I’m not setting the doctrine for coalition forces and I’m sure as hell whoever is probably isn’t going to even listen to what I’ve got to say. Still, someone’s got to say it.