On 7 September 2013 Australia will hold elections. Time for citizens to make a choice – a choice that not only decides about the future of the country, but which reveals something about the values of Australian’s citizens.
„Stop the boats“- three simple words that say more about the person that uses them than we might expect. “The boat is full”was a slogan used by Swiss officials during WWII to keep more refugees from neighbouring countries from coming to Switzerland. I’m convinced Abbott has borrowed his slogan, as so many other things. The program he is promoting is as simple as right-wing politics can get: fear, money, hate. Issues that trigger discussions, issues that cause emotions, issues that make blind. Thanks to this blindness, Abbott can mobilize voters without actually having anything to offer.
Whatever he says is wrong or without substance. It doesn’t matter, though, because his followers don’t care. As long as they have, they don’t care. This attitude could turn out to be fatal. Over the coming years, Australia will face serious challenges. People might get used to have less than they do now. Of course, Abbott promises jobs, but limits himself to make the promise without giving further details. What will he do against climate change? Nothing. In fact, he would even explicitly force climate change by allowing polluters to pollute more and by allowing miners to dig until Australia is one big hole in the ground.
What else can Abbott offer? Nothing. That’s why this morning he eventually announced what experts had long expected: the Liberals preference of The Greens below Labour. Needless to say that this announcement is not about politics rather than about tactics. I have argued before that the advantage of a democracy would actually be that it could favour the best candidates to lead a country. Not so if two parties discriminate against others. Abbott is all about exclusion and discrimination. Not only will he keep refugees away from Australia, but he also tries to have good politicians out of the parliament.
When Abbott describes one of his female candidates as “young, feisty and with sex appeal“ then his attitude is closer to a member of the church, who fights against equal rights for same-sex couples while abusing children, rather than what we might consider appropriate for a 21st century politician. No wonder, ex-PM Julia Gillard has called him a misogynist earlier this year. In his attitudes he is not a hair different from all those right-wing populist politicians that Europe got so sick of. No need to say that all they had brought Europe was a lot of hatred, chaos and more disparity among its people.
There is one more thing about Tony Abbott and his politics. While blunt and superficial it allowed Labour to shift more and more to the right. In an attempt to win back voters, Kevin Rudd has followed Tony Abbott’s course shoulder to shoulder ever since back in his role as PM. The consequence is that a Labour party under Kevin Rudd has nothing to do with the romantic ideals of the labour movement it once was identified with. Rudd doesn’t have much more to offer than Abbott. He doesn’t need to, because he targets at the same voters.
Voting for the Liberals under Tony Abbott means voting for discrimination and exclusion (no same-sex marriages, asylum seekers to countries that are themselves in need), not addressing climate change, more roads instead of better public transport and more environmental degradation. Voting for Labour under Kevin Rudd means the same, only to a slightly lesser degree. Voting for either of them means saying “Yes, we are irresponsible, careless and ignorant, but that’s the way we are and what we feel comfortable with. We don’t change, because we don’t care about the world or our neighbours.” It is an attitude that would fit into the 16th century, but isn’t suitable for the 21st. In contrast the Greens stand for people who care, who believe that change is possible and that are convinced of living in a world where everyone deserves a chance.
“Stop the boats” is as simple as slogan as are the politics behind it. Both stand for living with the same old concepts, even if we know that they cause harm, making use of the fact that human beings are led by fear (of the unknown) and therefore promising them to keep status quo as a safe bet. So, after all, these upcoming elections don’t reveal so much about Tony Abbott or Kevin Rudd but rather about the people that vote for or against them.
 Original in German: „Das Boot ist voll!“