September 4, 2013

Joely Mitchell

My aunty told me yesterday that she was going to draw a piece of the male anatomy on her ballot paper because she refused to vote for any of the major parties. It made me wonder how many Australians would be ‘donkey voting’ on September 7 and most importantly, why.

As a first time voter, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by Australian politics. There’s so much political debate, but so little talk about what each party will actually do if elected.

Although it is important to make an informed decision, so I spoke to three local candidates to get their party’s perspective on four issues that affect us. Nick McGowan is the Liberal  candidate for JagajagaJenny Macklin is the Labor member for the same area and Kate Neely is a representative from the Greens.

Same sex marriage-

Labor has proposed to introduce legislation legalising gay marriage within the first 100 days of being elected. When they say “legislation”, it means that they will vote on the issue in parliament and majority rules, so don’t think that gay marriage WILL definitely be legalised if Labor is elected. Macklin says that she “supports” this proposal.

McGowan, from the Liberal Party, says that he is “personally in favour of marriage equality”. Although his leader, Tony Abbott, says that he is not “someone who wants to see radical change based on the fashion of the moment” and if elected will focus on other issues, such as jobs and the economy.

The Greens want to legalise same sex marriage and also recognise same sex marriages from overseas. As a minority party, they are attempting to persuade the major parties to agree to a conscious vote on the issue. “We have had some success in getting Labor to agree, the Liberal Party still resists any change”, Neely said.

Asylum Seekers-

Labor has increased its refugee intake to 20,000 people and Macklin says that they “hope to increase this amount even more”. Labor is also saying that “asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”. Kevin Rudd has made an agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea to accept refugees and therefore be processed offshore. Unsuccessful asylum seekers will be either sent back home or resettled in another country.

The Liberal Party will reintroduce temporary protection visas, allowing refugees to live and work in Australia for up to three years. They will then have to reapply for the right to stay. They aim to increase offshore processing and turn back the boats “where it is safe to do so”. McGowan says that “the goal is to stop people taking the risk coming to Australia by boat”.

The Greens aim to close all offshore processing centres, Neely says that they also wish to “increase the speed of processing and the number of asylum seekers who are accepted”. The Greens would like to ensure that children are not kept in detention centres.

University Funding-

Labor caused a lot of controversy in April when they announced their proposed cuts to university funding. In order to help pay for the Gonski school reforms, $2 billion worth of university funding will be scrapped. Although Macklin says that “Labor has set a target for 40% of 25-40 year olds to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2025.”

The Liberal Party is opposed these cuts. McGowan promises that there will be “more policy announcements which will be supportive of young people’s education”.

The Greens also oppose the current university funding cuts and aim to implement a 10% increase in base funding per student.


The Labor Party wants to protect the rights of workers, providing a decent minimum wage and penalty rates. They also want to implement a balanced unfair dismissal system and flexibilities to help balance work and family life. They also want to help keep jobs in Australia, investing in the rollout of the National Broadband Network, which will open up many new job opportunities.

McGowan believes that everyone has tightened their belt recently, but thinks that “businesses will start to gain some trust in the government after the election”. He says that the government doesn’t want to put people out of jobs, but there are “a lot of unintentional job losses as consequences”.

The Greens also support the National Broadband Network and its ability to create new jobs. They also want to ensure that Australia’s research and development sectors are healthy in order to create new jobs to produce food, medicines and technology. The Greens also propose to lower company tax for small businesses.

If you do decide to ‘donkey vote’, that’s fine. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reason, not because Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers are an eye sore or K-Rudd’s Australian slang is excruciatingly embarrassing.

– Joely Mitchell

– Photos Amy Steele

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