April 08, 2016

Horse 2097 - Rollo, MP for Jollity West

During one of the afternoons at work where the radio was on and there was talk about politics, the inevitable question arose about whether either of us would have ever gone into (or in my case go into) politics. My boss said that he just didn't like the idea of sitting through endless meetings just to achieve anything and I kind of jokingly said that I'd never get elected because the sort of political outcomes that I would want to achieve would have been considered to be boring in the 1960s but so far massively to the left today that I'd never rise through the party ranks; which would be necessary to be elected.
I mentioned that I once accidentally got some votes in an election once, and that that would be the most likely route if I was ever going to enter serious politics (which itself isn't likely).

When I was in Year 11, there was the obligatory election for School Captain, as is every school's wont to run a literal popularity contest for some hitherto unknown reason. Twenty years later I have no idea who our School Captain was but I do remember that because I'd run a campaign of "Don't Vote For Anyone", somehow I'd managed to win some votes despite not actually contesting the election and not even appearing on the ballot paper. I even made some campaign posters on the photocopier in the library, using pictures that I'd found in a book about Lech Wałęsa's Solidarność movement in Poland.
Looking slightly ahead in time, I'm pretty sure that had I been involved in student politics in university, I would have been in some anarchical society. I don't mean that I like left or right wing anarchical politics, rather that the whole thing strikes me as being dead naff and a colossal waste of time. I probably might have joined something like a Pirate Party and contested elections as a joke candidate; which in my opinion sums up the entirety of student politics to a T, or rather an Rrrr!
Unless people really are dyed in the wool supporters of a political party (this usually applies to the sort of people who'd join the Young Liberals) then the only reason that I imagine that people would want to be involved in student politics is that they think that it will look good on their CV; when in actual fact no employer really cares which political team you barrack for in the grand shouting match.

In a roundabout way, this brings me to the subject of the 2016 Australian Federal Election. I'm sorry to announce that unless you out there in Internet Land can raise the $1000 deposit needed for me to run as a candidate, then it ain't gonna happen.
In 2013 I had the mad idea of looking into how much it would cost to stand as a candidate and run for Parliament. The writs were written and the registrations closed by the time that I got round to it but this time around, I've had plenty of warning and have still come to the conclusion that it just isn't worth the effort.
Provided you are over the age of 18 and hold Australian citizenship, then if you want to become a candidate then you need to jump over two hurdles which although aren't massive, are at least arduous enough to discourage many people from running for Parliament and making the ballot paper massive (I'm talking about the House of Representatives ticket here). Firstly as an unendorsed candidate who isn't affiliated with a political party, you need to collect at least 100 signatures from the general public. Then you need to pay the $1000 deposit. This is usually enough to stop most wing nuts and weirdos from getting a spot on the ballot paper.
Of course once you have been registered as a candidate, you are then entitled to get a spot on the billing on the hustings in the debate which usually takes place in the various town halls about a fortnight before the election.
In order to qualify to be reimbursed for your expenses of the campaign, you need to achieve 4% of the first preference vote. I worked out that it you were particularly lucky wing nut who ran in an electorate with not very many candidates, then you probably might be able to pick up a few protest votes but it more than likely wouldn't be enough to claim that 4% and win your money back. Running for Parliament just doesn't seem like a very profitable proposition to me.
In the Division of Chifley which I live in, the chances of anyone other than a Labor candidate getting elected are slim to asthmatic at best. For me to consider a challenge is futile and stupid.

The begging question is why would I run for Parliament in the first place. I think that most of the people who enter politics are the same dyed in the wool supporters who joined the perpetual shouting match in university and have spent so long in yelling "Hooray" and "Boo" that they're more concerned with the game of politics than the actual job of governance. Why would I want to enter that? The truth is that I don't (maybe).

As a spectator who is watching the shouting match from the sidelines, the actual chance that I have of entering the arena is close enough to may as well be zero. Even if you do join a political party, in order to even be considered to be placed on the ballot paper, you either have to dislodge the incumbent member of win the internal squabble to get that endorsement from the party. Locally that means pulling the levers and operating the necessary mechanics to not only dislodge our local member Ed Husic but also dissuade anyone else from running as well. After all of that, the task then involves convincing the electorate to vote for you and then if you want to make a career out of it, going through the whole process again in three years' time. Once you do manage to secure the job, you then have to listen to what the electorate wants, answer correspondence, nut out and vote on legislation and then plunge into the perpetual shouting match just to get anything done. That all just seems like an expensive way to apply for a job which you're not guaranteed to hold and can be fired because of the actions of other people. For someone who already likes the idea of running as a joke candidate, that seems like an unfunny joke with a terrible punchline.

That's not to say that democracy itself is a joke. The system we've inherited from our forebears is incredibly stable and whilst I think that there are some decisions which have been incredibly cruel, some which I think have been culpable and bordering on treasonous, on the whole the fact that we largely don't notice our governments is if nothing else an indication that they work.

So you're not likely to see me thundering from the backbenches as MP for Jollity West unless I somehow get a massive cashiplasty in the wallet department. In the meantime I'll just have to continue to be a spectator and yell "Hooray" and "Boo" at the radio like everyone else and maybe even "Arrr!".

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