Disgruntled voters turn on Labor, Libs


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The biggest issue stemming from the election result is not who won or lost.

It’s the growing disconnection between Australians and the major political parties.

Millions of Australians have simply given up on politics-as-usual.

That is reflected in the five per cent informal vote, the one-in-five voters who simply didn’t turn up to vote and the 23.5 per cent support for minor parties and independents.

A study by the Australian National University in 2014 found only 56 per cent of people felt their vote made a difference, down from 79 per cent in 1996.

Asked whether it mattered which party was in power, only 43 per cent said “yes” which was down from 68 per cent in 2007.

In Saturday’s election, about 600,000 people cast an informal ballot.

Many drew pictures or wrote slogans on their ballot papers.

NSW state Labor MP Penny Sharpe gave an assessment of what she saw while scrutineering in Gilmore on Wednesday morning: “Two penis pics, a vote for (The Simpsons’) Mayor Quimby, two drug dealers dobbed in & several f*** offs”.

Informal voting tends to be highest in seats with high levels of voters aged 18-24.

Some academics say young people are now more interested in making their views known via Twitter, online petitions or attending rallies than engaging in elections.

Interestingly, in Britain support for the “remain” campaign among young people was around 70 per cent – but it wasn’t reflected in the final vote in favour of a Brexit.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned during the campaign that voters should consider their individual ballot as if it alone determines the election.

He also urged voters to check the policies of the candidates they support, rather than simply consider the name of a party’s leader.

Turnbull specifically named Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon, Glenn Lazarus and Pauline Hanson.

However, this turned out to be a red rag to a herd of bulls and all but Lazarus will now play a key role in the success of the next government.

While the warnings were worthy – especially given Hanson’s outrageously xenophobic and narrow-minded policies – Turnbull failed to address the issue of voter disconnection.

Coalition MP for Herbert Ewen Jones is a supporter of Turnbull.

But he has a theory about where the campaign went wrong.

While the prime minister endlessly spruiked the merits of innovation, technology and free trade deals providing the jobs of tomorrow he didn’t talk enough about the joblessness of today.

“With 13 per cent unemployment, someone is going to be blamed,” Jones told AAP.

“While I put forward a positive campaign talking about 2018 to 2030, other people were talking about July.”

Minor parties and Labor were offering comfort and false promises, he says.

“Pauline Hanson was saying: `Come here, it’s nice and warm in this cave.'” says Jones.

“Bill Shorten was saying: `You can have it all for free.'”

Labor strategists point to issues like income inequality, sluggish wage growth, corporations dodging their fair share of taxes and concerns about access to education and health care as troubling voters.

This is partly why Labor’s so-called “Mediscare” campaign and the grassroots push to secure Gonski needs-based school funding resonated in the community.

Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh was upbeat about the 3.7 per cent swing against the government, especially given his party’s damaging leadership squabbling prior to the 2013 election drubbing.

History was also going against Labor – not since 1931 has a first-term federal government been defeated.

“It’s like landing Juno on Jupiter, what (Shorten) has managed to pull off,” Leigh says.

Both major parties would do well to work on another NASA-scale issue – building bridges with a disgruntled electorate.

Online Source

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Austrlaia

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