It’s been haywire around this neck of the woods and, rather reasonably, I put it down to the fact that Australian politics has turned into a dog’s breakfast. A week and a half ago, on Saturday August 21, we had a federal election, resulting in what’s essentially a hung parliament, which is a rare event for us. The only hope of resolution is coming from a small group of rural-based independents who are currently trying to work out whether they’ll support the slightly more progressive Australian Labor Party, the incumbents, or the conservative Liberal/National Coalition, who – based on previous form – may well take us back to a dim dark past.
How did we get to this point? In a nutshell (or should that be ‘nutcase’?), the election involved an inept campaign from the Australian Labor Party and a morally bankrupt campaign from the Coalition. Labor, who’d ditched their leader just before calling the election and chose to put forward Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, seemed to be making things up every minute, trying to be modern and ‘real’ but really just coming across as amateurs. The Coalition, however, ran a traditional fear campaign, putting forward the old chestnut that Australia is in the process of being swamped by Asians – gasp, all those funny eyes and weird languages and the stinky food – and we’re going to lose our way of life. Morally bankrupt indeed.
So what did Australia do? We sent one message that neither party was really up to the task, and another message that we’d like the Greens to have control of the Senate from July next year – both of these are good things. But it should be pointed out that fewer Australians voted in this election than in previous elections, despite it being compulsory, and of those who did vote 600,000 either stuffed up their ballot paper or wrote ‘We can do better than this’ or ‘Don’t treat us like fools’ or ‘F*** off and die’, or something similar, perhaps.
At least the politicians have got the message that we’re not happy.
So while we wait to hear who the independents will support, what to do? I’ve chosen to tune out. And it’s the first time in my life that I’ve chosen to do this. Normally I read all the papers, watch all the current-affairs shows, get obsessed and worked up about every twist and turn. But not this time. On one hand, this political caper is very important, but on the other it’s not what matters at all. What matters is reading a great story. What matters is hearing great music. What matters is a loving look from your partner, or a smile from the dog (how good to be the dog!), or the taste of a particularly delicious home-cooked meal. Or just the sound of the wind in the trees, though it’s frighteningly windy today – not sure if someone’s trying to tell us something.
What’s important is the small things, the things that will continue on no matter who’s ‘in power’. And in the spirit of the small things, and to inject this pallid election tale with something that really does matter – the arts and creativity and meaningless whimsies which are actually so meaningful it hurts – I give you Slinkachu, who has rather delightfully imbedded himself into this post.