R U OK? Not Even A Little Bit

There are dozens of guides floating around social media today, giving advice on how best to ask R U OK? What to do if someone says “no”. How to follow up on the question in the future.
The problem is, that achieves very little for someone with depression. Someone actively contemplating suicide isn’t about to turn everything around because you reminded them that they can call Lifeline or visit a GP.
Workplaces still have no idea how to deal with employees living with depression. Universities offer little more than empty platitudes to those feeling crushed by their study load. Even the unemployed have little recourse when it comes to seeking assistance, because of the overwhelming cost of treatment.
Sure, we can all pop another pill to help deal with our shit, but what does that really achieve? The work is still there. The assessments are past-overdue. The stigma of living with mental health issues still exists as others continue to joke about depression or whip out the kid gloves whenever you walk into the room.
There are problems that don’t go away, and any time you ask for help, you’re faced with a system that expects you to pick yourself back up.

#RUOKDay is a hollow excuse to congratulate ourselves for doing nothing to combat depression and suicide.
The purported aim is to “start a conversation”, because apparently that all someone suffering under the relentless burden of mental illness needs. A good chat.
The only positive result of this gimmick is that broader Australian society will feel better for claiming to have achieved something by making it trend on social media all day. The victims, meanwhile, are left to languish for the other 364 days of the year, because of the system that pretends we don’t exist.

The official advice for R U OK? Day is to talk to someone with depression about their issues and tell them where to get help. But this changes nothing. It doesn’t address what they might need.
When you ask someone “R U OK?” in a text message, are you prepared to offer them a couch to crash on for the next six months as they try to put their life back together?
Will you pay for their visits to a psychologist? Medicare barely covers it and bulk-billing for mental health is ineffective.
Do you have the capacity to change a system that puts the onus on the victim? Where anyone asking for help is first expected to help themselves?

For all the corporate enthusiasm for R U OK Day, for all the politicians attending events, very little changes. Mental health services continue to be defunded. Accessing proper treatment is always a challenge. For anyone who really needs help, finding it is almost impossible.
The first recourse for mental health treatment is for a GP to prescribe antidepressants and occasionally write a referral. After that, you’re on your own.
That was my experience when I first asked for help a few years ago. I was admonished for being depressed by my GP, given a prescription and shown the door. No follow ups, no real questions, just a “We all have issues, this will help”. Except it didn’t. The antidepressants worsened my mood, I became irrational and irritable. While a pharmacological approach can work for some people, it won’t work for others, because *big shock* we are all different. Our chemical makeup varies from person to person. There is no one, big catch-all approach to mental health treatment. It is still a case of throwing ideas at a patient and hoping one will stick.
I wound up in a psych ward after a suicide attempt, I was there for a week and a half before I saw a doctor, and within hours of talking to the doctor, I had been discharged, because I managed to convince them I was fine. Which I wasn’t. I just didn’t want to spend another minute in there, being ignored as my problems in the real world piled up.
My time in the psych ward taught me a few things

  • The public health system doesn’t know how to treat depression. I spent a week locked in a room taking antidepressants, I could have done this at home.
  • Workplaces are incapable of dealing with someone with mental health issues, because they’re stuck demanding medical certificates for any time spent absent.
  • People in the broader community don’t know how to approach depression and suicide. I had people I considered friends making bets about when I would kill myself. I found out that one of the people who triggered the attempt that put me in the psych ward was being told my every move by one of the nurses in the ward, as they knew each other.
  • The NSW Police only care about suicide and depression when they have to clean it up. When it came to the related court date, which I won’t discuss here, I overheard two officers gleefully discussing my attempt and treatment, as it strengthened their case against me.

After I got past this, I tried finding a psychiatrist who could help and wound up shelling out $400 per session to learn very little about myself that I didn’t already know. I know why I’m depressed. I know my triggers. I don’t have a way of effectively dealing with them because there is no system in place that allows any of us to take a couple of weeks out of life to heal. Our neo-liberal capitalist society doesn’t have time or space for prolonged weakness. You have a matter of days to sort yourself out, or you are left behind.
This is the boat I am in right now. For the last month I have been trying to pull myself out this psychological quicksand, only to find myself sinking further in. I’ve stopped going out. I’ve stopped going to uni, which, of course, means I’ve failed this semester, further compounding the issue. I need a medical certificate and to apply for academic consideration before I can even consider continuing with my study and that in itself is a whole world of stress I can’t deal with right now.
I’ve found myself hiding from the world, hoping that someone will notice I’ve vanished and offer to pick me back up, to help me fix the problems I’m facing.

So when someone asks me today, R U OK? My response will be “Yeah, I’m fine” because I don’t want the platitudes, I don’t want the standard response or the standard treatment because I have tried that and it failed me. I want to be better, but I know that I will struggle until the system we have built for treatment becomes adaptive, and I know that I am not alone.
Am I okay? No.
Are you okay? No.
Does it make any difference to ask? Who knows.
All I know is, for those of us living with depression, society needs to change for the better before we can.

My God, What Have We Done?

July 3rd, 2019

Happy Freedom Day! Praise be to Supreme Minister Morrison! Long may he govern!

It’s incredible how much can be achieved in three years. Goodness, it was incredible how much could be achieved in just one day. On that holiest of Sundays, the borders were closed, the state religion established, the welfare rats were forced into the jobs they claimed they couldn’t find, and the terrorists at the ABC were executed for treason.

No one expected Scott Morrison to seize the leadership the day after the 2016 election, though Propaganda Minister Bolt has always maintained that his ascension that day was inevitable.
No one expected Supreme Minister Morrison to find himself with an approval rating of ninety-six percent just two days later. The day the polling was released, our beloved voice of the people, The Daily Telegraph, dedicated an entire issue to the humble boy from the Shire.
No one expected the Australian economic boom that came from the management of Treasurer Cormann. In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph today, he credited the Supreme Minister for the success of the nation,
“Only Herr Morrison had the foresight to keep the Australian people out of the Labor recession. The budget black hole our Supreme Minister inherited from the sinister ALP had stopped growth, destroyed jobs and we all know what happened after they declared war on businesses. They wanted to use tax as bullets. War Minister Bernardi knew the only way to combat this was using bullets as bullets. And where are the Labor pigs now? They all ran off to their caves like little girly men.”

Over the last three years, our great nation has grown beyond all expectations. It wasn’t all easy, there was some resistance at first, but after the extradition deal signed with President Dutton of Nauru, the defiant opposition were no longer a problem for our glorious leader. Since that day, we have only grown stronger.
For the safety of all Australians, the Minister for Information, George Brandis, has ensured that all data is constantly monitored. The expansion of ASIO has given us all the opportunity to report any suspicions, no matter how small the matter may seem. Continuous patrols of all neighbourhoods by the Federal Police has reduced crime to nearly zero.
Mining Minister Joyce fulfilled the promise of jobs and growth when the war criminals and socialist protesters were forced into the employ of Her Magnificence, the Empress Gina I of the Commonwealth of Western Australia.
As Minister for Morality, George Christensen helped the Supreme Minister to outlaw homosexuality and the immoral education of children. Now, any children identified to have queer leanings are taken to conversion camps in rural Queensland, spending days, weeks and years there until they can accept that any challenge to the heteronormative state is bigotry and hatred and must be stamped out.
The High Bishop of Christ, Minister Abbott, has led the hearts and minds of the nation to a new enlightenment. We can only find satisfaction and glory in working hard and supporting our government. “Whose side are you on?” has become our rallying cry.
Hero of the people and Minister for Workers, Eric Abetz created a newer, stronger employment force, with unions and non-government organisations outlawed.
Close friend of the government, Royal Commissioner Lambie made the historic discovery that sharia law does indeed involve terrorism. Along with Queensland Premier Pauline Hanson, she helped expel all the criminal Muslims who refused to convert to the state religion.
The highlight for all Australians though, was when Grand Admiral Pyne annexed New Zealand with his powerful fleet of newly-built submarines.

Our new Governor General, Dame Julie Bishop, appointed Supreme Minister Morrison Liberal Leader for Life on the second anniversary of his rise to power. President Trump and British PM Farage were both in attendance for this wondrous event, both commenting on Australia’s resilience in the “War On Darkies”.
This, of course, was when Freedom Day was declared.

Today, as we celebrate our second Freedom Day, the former leader and traitor to the cause, Malcolm Turnbull, is due to be publicly shamed for suggesting that perhaps the government he lost had gone too far to the right. As the national newspaper, The Australian, correctly asserted, if anything, the Supreme Minister has been too generous in his treatment of the left. Only half of those identified as “leftards” were lynched, the rest were allowed the honour of rebuilding the Tasmanian logging industry.
There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian.

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Our Supreme Minister, the Most Honourable Scott Morrison

Small Party Syndrome

The 2013 election exposed voters to a concept that was, for many, previously unheard-of: electing small party candidates to the Senate. While independent Senators such as Brian Harradine and Nick Xenophon found success in representing their states, it has always been harder for smaller parties to build a following at a federal level. The death of the Australian Democrats is a testament to the thin ice small federal parties are constantly standing on and yet, having learnt nothing from Clive Palmer’s vanity project, all of the independent Senators from the last Parliament have formed their own small parties and are running multiple candidates in this election.

Despite the government blaming an unruly Senate for its failure to pass any real legislation, the decision to go to a double dissolution means that the Senators the government was trying to get rid of will not only be returned, but in greater numbers. The crossbench is bound to expand, not only in the Senate but also in the House of Representatives, and the small parties filling it will likely be elected because of their stunts, gaffes and hardcore racism.

To help make your preferencing easier, here is a quick guide to the small parties and their demented ideologies.

The Mavericks – Nick Xenophon/Derryn Hinch/Bob Katter

Nick Xenophon, Derryn Hinch, and Bob Katter have all made their names through various political stunts. Populists hoping to capitalise on the protest vote, these three men and their associated political parties are hoping that voters don’t look too closely at their policies.
The Nick Xenophon Team stands for all of the things Xenophon stood for as an independent Senator. Somewhat centrist, though mostly left-wing, NXT is anti-gambling and pro-South Australia, working hard to bring business to the state, no matter how negative the impact on the Australian economy. Nick Xenophon ostensibly believes in climate change, taking a why-risk-it approach. He also firmly believes in the thoroughly debunked Wind Turbine Syndrome, helping the Abbott government to slash funding to alternative power sources.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party is running on an anti-crime, anti-paedophile platform. Hinch has spent time in prison for repeatedly being in contempt of court, though not for his sexual relationship with a fifteen-year-old. The vast majority of changes Hinch wants can only be made at a state level, which is why he’s running in a federal election, to change the laws of the states, which can only be done in state parliaments, not federal parliament.
Katter’s Australia Party is presenting itself as a genuine rural alternative to the Nationals. The party’s policies reflect the values of farmers and outback Australians, especially the deeply homophobic, inbreeding, backwood-Deliverance types that inhabit parts of Northern Queensland. Katter himself made headlines in this election for an ad, in conjunction with satirical news site The Betoota Advocate that depicted the Mad Katter shooting dead his political rivals for trying to sell-off Australia; the ad was released within days of the Orlando mass shooting.
Fun fact: Maverick independents can make decent politicians as they tend to work harder for their communities, but when they form parties based on their vague ideologies, it gets weird.

The PUPs – Lambie/Brick/Wang

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In 2013, the three Palmer United Senators proved that literally anybody can become a politician. Since then, Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus have split from Clive, with Zhenya “Dio” Wang the only remaining PUP Senator. Their policies range from the bizarre to the bigoted, with the poorly defined in-between.
The Jacqui Lambie Network represents Jacqui Lambie’s attempt to become the new Pauline Hanson. After the resurgence of the redheaded racist, Lambie sought to distinguish herself from Hanson, transitioning her platform to one of Islamophobia and xenophobia, an opposition to same-sex marriage, a disregard for the scientific evidence for man-made climate change, and is pushing to reintroduce the death penalty. The key point of difference here being that Hanson is from Queensland, while Lambie is Tasmanian.
Glenn Lazarus and his Team almost certainly stand for threatening to digitally rape the Prime Minister. A former NRL player, Glenn Lazarus is noteworthy for his three year political career, as opposed to the three-minute career of fellow NRL star Mal Meninga.
Palmer United Party are a party that almost don’t exist. Palmer is no longer the leader, Wang is the only remaining parliamentarian, and only a handful of candidates are running in this election, as opposed to a full field in the 2013 election.
Fun fact: Jacqui Lambie’s incoherent rambling can be amusing to witness first-hand, but that doesn’t mean she should be in the Senate. At most, she should have her own reality show.

The Tweens –  Pirate Party/Sex Party/HEMP

These three parties trade largely on the immature douche-canoe and ignorant teenage votes. Their aim is to attract votes based on the notion that their names sound vaguely rebellious.
“Lolz, I voted for the *Sex* party.”
“Yarr, I’m a pirate.”
“Dude, I’m voting for the weed party.”
These three quotes represent the voter base of the Sex, Pirate and Marijuana Parties.
The Pirate Party stands for online rights. They have broadened their policy base over the years to include some left-wing ideologies, but their primary cause is to deregulate the internet and make it easier to torrent Game of Thrones and shitty copies of the latest Star Wars filmed on someone’s iPhone with hard-coded Korean subtitles.
The Sex Party stands for sex workers and hating the Greens. Opposed to drug detection “sniffer” dogs, Sex Party officials have threatened to report the Greens anti-drug dog affiliate Sniff Off to the police for informing people of their rights regarding the dogs. Allegedly left-wing libertarians whose natural ally should be the Greens, the Sex party have cut preference deals with the Liberal and Labor parties in efforts to shut out the Greens.
Help End Marijuana Prohibition a.k.a. HEMP a.k.a. The Marijuana Party are a single issue party, advocating the legalisation of marijuana. According to HEMP, marijuana is a super-plant capable of replacing all recognised medical treatments and all known building materials. It’s also handy for getting buzzed and eating Cheetos.
Fun fact: If you google any of these parties you will invariably find instructions for hosting children’s parties and/or drug-fuelled orgies.

The Hitler Youth – One Nation/Australia First/Liberty Alliance/Rise Up/Sustainable Australia

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The various groups of racists, bigots and Nazis that gained prominence since the last election have formed a series of racist, bigoted micro-parties to match their racist, bigoted micro-penises. The fact that they couldn’t come together to form one group says everything about their inability to work with others toward a common goal. These groups have one thing in common, the single brain cell they share.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is a collective of garbage people rallying around the formerly racist, now Islamophobic stain on Australia’s recent political history. They stand for incest, necrophilia, coprophila, bestiality, and genocide. If you enjoy these things, then One Nation is the party for you.
Fun fact: The more overt the patriotism of party website, the more likely it is to be a Nazi organisation.

The Leyonhjelms –  Liberal Democrats/Outdoor Recreation/Smokers Rights

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David Leyonhjelm was elected to the Senate in 2013 after voters mistook the Liberal Democrats for the Liberal Party. He was helped by a series of shell parties with catchy names and non-specific aims that he created to funnel preferences to the Liberal Democrats. Parties with names such as Stop The Greens (Outdoor Recreation), Smokers Rights and The Republican Party of Australia capitalised on the ignorance of voters and helped expose the nation to the most obnoxious political fuckwit in Australian history, on par with Donald Trump in the United States.
The Liberal Democrats are right-wing libertarians working to advance the causes of their biggest supporters: weapons manufacturers, the tobacco industry, fossil fuel producers, and the offensively stupid.
Fun fact: Leyonhjelm has defended the controversial Wicked Camper vans, claiming that those offended by the vans were “authoritarians disguised as hippies or feminists”. Yet Leyonhjelm took incredible offence at a Chaser stunt involving Leyonhjelm and Wicked Camper slogans, not finding them funny at all. He went on to throw a tantrum on Twitter, making Senator Leyonhjelm a “particularly wowserish kind of person” indeed.

The Hippies – Animal Justice/Australian Cyclists

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Two single-issue parties advocating for the apparently under-represented animal and cycling communities. Unfortunately neither party has a policy for animals riding bicycles.
The Animal Justice Party only has animal related policies, pushing for the abolition of animals as property, including banning the sale of pets. The party would also like to protect the rights of feral and introduced species alongside native species, because that’s exactly how nature works.
The Australian Cyclists Party advocates for state-based cycling reforms, at a federal level. It’s entirely possible that they don’t understand how the Federation works. The cyclists oppose mandatory helmet laws. Their theory is: If there’s nothing between their ears, why bother protecting it?
Fun fact: The Cyclists Party oppose the automotive industry and to display their hostility, made bumper stickers that say, “I cycle and I vote”.

The Criminally Insane – Citizens Electoral Council/Health Australia

Few people have heard of the Citizens Electoral Council or Health Australia, as their cult-like policies turn most casual voters away. Political bastions of conspiracy theories, these two parties would be the fun kind of crazy if not for their dangerously offensive ideals.
The Citizens Electoral Council are racist, homophobic, antisemites obsessed with the notion that the British Royal Family are responsible for the global drug trade. The CEC absolutely opposes the notion of anthropogenic climate change, believing it to be a global conspiracy to impose “Hitler-Nazi race science” on Africa. The party believes that the Liberal Party was founded by pro-Hitler fascists, that most of the legislation passed by the Howard government was fascist, and that the Port Arthur Massacre was a false-flag operation instigated by the British Royal Fascists.
Health Australia would have voters believe that they are not dangerous anti-vaxxers peddling the outrageous lies that:
– vaccinations cause autism
– fluoride is a mind controlling chemical
– magic water can cure everything from the common cold to HIV
– the government is run by Big Pharma
Of course, the facts are that Health Australia does believe all of the above and are trying to manufacture a new image that would make them more electable. The group is far more dangerous for Australia than Pauline Hanson and her goose-stepping brethren, and that’s saying something.
Fun fact: The CEC stand for the reintroduction of the Glass-Steagall banking legislation, a measure introduced in the United States in 1933 to limit the trade of commercial banks and securities firms. It was repealed in 1999 by President Bill Clinton, and many believe this was a major factor in the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Glass-Steagall has never been Australian legislation and so it is not exactly clear how the CEC could bring it back, if elected.

The Theocrats – Family First/CDP/Madigan/Australian Christians

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Hardcore Christians hell-bent on destroying women’s health services and eliminating the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people, the policies of these groups are fairly interchangeable. From gay conversion therapy to banning abortions for all women – including the victims of incest and rape, almost everything these parties stand for is reprehensible. On their list of pet-hates are:
– the right to die with dignity
– safe injecting rooms for drug addicts
– ethics lessons in schools
– science
– Muslims
– internet freedom
– taking action to prevent climate change
The main aim of all of these parties is to enforce the role and rule of Christianity in Australia on a scale close to the role and rule of Wahhabi Islam in the Islamic State.
Fun fact: John Madigan of John Madigan’s Manufacturing and Farming Party appears in the video below.

The Bogans – Motoring Enthusiasts/Shooters

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Ricky Muir was never supposed to be a Senator. Because of the micro-preferencing that occurred in the 2013 election, Muir found himself elected to the Senate with just 0.51% of the primary vote. At first, Muir was treated as a joke, unable to define his role in the Senate or describe how the Australian Parliament works. As time went on, however, Muir’s role on the crossbench became vital in preventing the passage of the Abbott/Turnbull government’s harsher measures. The Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party stands for roads, cars and car users. And that’s about it.
The Shooters Party has changed its name over the years, adding different causes to their name in order to garner more votes. They oppose the Greens. Its present incarnation, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party stands for shooters, fishers and farmers. And that’s about it.
Fun fact: The Shooters party believe that the firearms legislation passed in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre has done absolutely nothing to increase public safety, despite all evidence to the contrary. Apparently zero mass shootings and gun-related suicides and homicides falling by 65% and 59% respectively equates to a total failure of policy. Go figure.

The Bourgeoisie – Socialist Equality/Socialist Alliance

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Populated by the worst elements of Sydney and Monash University student unionism, the Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Equality Party stand for the right to scream in the face of anyone who attempts to engage them in a civil discussion. They also enjoy rioting and abusing police.
Fun fact: The membership of both of these parties is largely made up of students from upper-middle class families many of whom panicked after reading one too many Ayn Rand novels and now believe that a new world order can only come from creating chaos.

The Portfolios – Secular/Science/Marriage Equality/Drug Reform/Euthanasia/Renewable Energy/Arts/Veterans/Seniors

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These single issue micro parties exist because no one ever told them about the concept of lobbying politicians directly and approaching the respective Minister for their area of concern. What they stand for is in their name.
Fun fact: While the Secular Party of Australia want to get religion out of politics and education, they are also of the Dawkins-Harris School of Islamophobia, claiming that there is a direct link between halal certification in Australia and genital mutilation in Indonesia.

The Apps – Online Direct Democracy/Flux

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Two parties that literally stand for nothing, both Online Direct Democracy and Flux offer citizens the ability to vote on legislation before the Parliament. Electing a candidate from ODD or Flux means electing a proxy Senator who will vote for or against a bill based on the will of the people. If a certain threshold isn’t reached, the Senator will abstain. At present, neither party plans to introduce legislation.
Fun fact: Flux allow voters to trade their votes like Pokémon on matters they don’t care about because democracy.

The Conclusion
After this election, the Senate crossbench will likely expand to record levels, and as such it’s important that those filling it have the best interests of all Australians as their primary cause for being there.

The Postscript
To the Senators who win a seat in this election:
Good luck and don’t fuck it up.

Don’t Be A Jackass

Ask someone what donkey voting is, and they might say it’s when you spoil your ballot by adding an additional candidate; or maybe it’s when you draw a cock and balls across the senate paper; wait, isn’t it when you write your name on the paper? None of these are correct.
A donkey vote is when you number the boxes sequentially from top to bottom on the green House of Representatives form, and/or the white Senate paper starting with a 1 above the line in the box furthest to the left (column A) and numbering the next six boxes to the right (columns B – F).
It is a valid, formal vote and will be counted. It’s also how David Leyonhjelm was elected to the Senate in 2013. This is the danger of donkey voting – it can encourage the fuckwittery of deluded wingnuts.
In this election, in every state and territory, the coveted first column on the Senate ballot is held by either a lobby group or a party with offensive and/or dangerous views.

ACT – Liberal Democrats The party of the aforementioned Leyonhjelm, they stand for gun manufacturers, big tobacco, offensive ignorance, and are deeply offended by the prospect of clean energy. The only reason to vote for the LDP is if you enjoy the idea of living in a post-apocalyptic future, where literally everyone is dead including you.
As party leader, David Leyonhjelm has claimed that if the victims of the Sydney Siege had access to guns it would have been prevented (despite all evidence to the contrary); and earlier this year he stated that because smokers die earlier, they cost the health system far less and so should be taxed less. As you could guess, logic isn’t his strong suit.

NSW – Health Australia Anti-vaccination, anti-science, anti-health. The name is deliberately deceptive, like the Nazi Party renaming itself Friends of the Jewish Community. Health Australia represents the views of a dangerous minority, obsessed with the idea that magic water can fix anything and vaccinations cause literally every possible health issue. They can generally be held responsible for the rise in incidences of measles, whooping cough and any number of preventable, potentially fatal childhood diseases.

NT – Rise Up Australia Far right-wing neo-nazis, they are opposed to Islam and multiculturalism, homosexuality and heterosexual cohabitation, climate science and evolution. The party founder and leader, Danny Nalliah claimed the Black Saturday bushfires were a result of God punishing Victoria for abortions. Nalliah also believes he has personally resurrected at least three people and communicated directly with God on a number of occasions. If elected, RUAP intends to overhaul Australia’s media laws to restrict “immoral” content.
In simpler terms, they support a Judeo-Christian version of the Wahabbism they desperately fear.

QLD – Australian Cyclists The little lobby group that could, the cyclists stand for… cyclists. And cycling-related issues. That’s about it. I don’t know what else to tell you. If you believe cycling is a federal issue, then yeah, vote for them I guess. I mean, education and health are important too, but bikes are cool I guess. Anyway…

SA – Mature Australia The political version of those over-50s insurance ads, Mature Australia is another lobby group aiming to make an impact in Canberra. Unlike the cyclists, aged care is historically under-funded and older Australians are poorly represented by their elected officials. I’m not saying they should be elected, but they do have some cause for running for office. That said, most of their policies are covered on daytime talkback radio.

TAS – Family First Vile, hateful bigots, the first placed Senate candidate, Peter Madden, responded to the worst mass shooting in US history by tweeting:
Though Orlando is abhorrent, it doesn’t change the real & present dangers of the gay marriage agenda to Aus children.
In Tasmania, the state that suffered the worst mass shooting in Australian history and only decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, it is absolutely unacceptable for anyone, let alone a Senate candidate, to draw a parallel between a horrific hate crime and marriage equality.

VIC – Derryn Hinch Senator Hinch is a terrifying thought for anyone who grew up watching Hinch. Running on an anti-paedophile platform, it’s difficult to fault Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, unless you mention the sexual relationship Hinch had with a 15-year-old in his early thirties.
Derryn Hinch is looking to toughen state crime laws and wants state-based bail reform, which is why he is running for the Federal Senate, to change the laws of the states, which can only be done in state parliaments, not federal parliament.

WA – Christian Democrats Many negative things have been said about the Fred Nile group, and here are a few more:
– The party is anti-pornography, but NSW State Parliament records showed that the computers in Fred Nile’s office were used to access porn sites around 200,000 times.
– In the wake of the Sydney Siege, Fred Nile proudly stated that the gunman was the “only man” inside the Lindt cafe, because, one assumes, Nile wanted more innocent people to be shot.
– Fred Nile has continually proposed “Zoe’s Law”, to impose personhood to unborn foetuses in an attempt to outlaw abortions. Brodie Donegan, the mother of Zoe, the unborn baby killed after Brodie was hit by a drug-affected driver, opposes Nile’s machinations and has worked to introduce her own version of the law with other NSW politicians. Nile continues to impose his beliefs on Brodie’s child, claiming to speak for them when he is in no way associated with Ms Donegan.
The CDP have always been the enemy of intelligence and reason, bastions of ignorance and regressive politics. They stand in the way of safe injecting rooms and same-sex parents, they demand the re-criminalisation of abortions, and claim that Australia is becoming an Islamic nation, all the while trying to legislate scripture classes in all schools.
They’re the Westboro Baptist Church of Australian politics.

So the question is, why do people donkey vote? The most common excuses are protest, apathy, and ignorance. But this isn’t good enough.
If you object to compulsory voting, stay home and cop the fine. Fill in your ballot randomly if you must.  Or, better yet, work out why you don’t like being forced to vote. Is it the fact that you have to leave the house? Because postal votes exist. Is it that you don’t like being told what to do? You’d like it even less if your freedoms were stripped by some far-right fascist party. Get your head out of your ass and educate yourself. Learn why your vote matters.
If you don’t like the candidates, consider running for office. That’s the beauty of our system, if you don’t like it, you can join in and change it. Or, look around the plethora of candidates and parties that exist, see if you can find one that’s close to what you believe in, odds are there’s a party that fits you.
If you don’t care who gets your vote, you’re an idiot. The first people to complain after an election are those who didn’t care about their vote in the polling booth. Look no further than the buyer’s remorse coming from the Brexit referendum to see what happens when people don’t care enough about their vote.
If you don’t understand how the voting system works in Australia, Google it. Ask someone who does understand it. Christ, ask me if you have to. You’re reading this, so contact me on Twitter if you want to know more.
Donkey votes are a terrible waste, because when a donkey vote is successful, no one is happy with the result.

Preferences Schmeferences

How do I know who gets my preferences?  Who are the Liberal party are preferencing? What about Labor? Did the Greens really do a preference deal? Is Nick Xenophon still a thing? Does anybody really care about this crap?
Here are the facts:

PREFERENCE DEALS NO LONGER MATTER

Preferential voting (also known as alternative voting or instant-runoff voting) is the voting system used in Australia. Often politicians will mention preferences as though they’re a bad thing, something used by smaller parties to cheat the system. The reality is, preferential voting helps your vote go further than it would if you simply numbered one box. You can number the parties or candidates in the order you would prefer they be elected. If your chosen party or candidate doesn’t get enough votes, perhaps your second choice will, and so on.

Following the Senate voting reforms earlier this year, preferences are no longer the headache they used to be. Never again will a Senator be elected with just 0.51% of the vote because micro-preferencing is ostensibly a thing of the past.
Now, the only deals that exist are on paper, laid out in the how-to-vote cards handed out at polling booths.
Unless you’re literally Christopher Pyne, ready to fall in behind whoever the party leader is, you will likely have some disagreement with the one or more policies of any given party. As such, the how-to-vote cards are more nuisance than necessity on election day, with the preference “deals” counting for little as the majority of voters don’t actually follow how-to-vote cards.

Though, if you paid any measure of attention to the news media over the last 7 weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking that preference deals are more important than ever. According to most news sources, the evil Greens made a deplorable preference deal with the virtuous Liberal Party. Or with the occasionally shifty ALP. Or with the criminally insane Christian Democratic Party. The media knew these stories to be either outright falsehoods or thoroughly misleading even as they went to print, but then, factless reporting is a staple for election coverage. The more misinformation and confusion spread, the harder it is for voters to make informed choices.
The truth of the matter is that it was the Liberal Party cutting how-to-vote deals with the CDP and ALP, not the Greens. The Liberal Party deals went so far that Senator David Leyonhjelm of the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party felt the need to write about their conflicts of interest for HuffPo; doubtless Leyonhjelm felt entitled to the Liberal preferences, but his point is valid, the Liberal Party are cutting conservative Christian deals rather than conservative economic ones.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or barely paying attention to this post, you would have heard that Senate voting process has changed. As a voter, you now have far more control over where your preferences go. If you’re voting above the line, rather than numbering one box and letting the parties decide where your vote flows, you are now able to number as little as one box and as many as all boxes above the line, allocating the preferences where you choose. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) encourages voters to number at least six boxes above the line, because your vote will exhaust after the final box you number. If you only number one box, your vote won’t have as much impact as the person who numbers at least six boxes, essentially wasting your vote.
If you choose to vote below the line, you no longer have to number all of the boxes, the AEC only requires you to number twelve boxes. Your vote will still be valid if you number at least six boxes, though, again, the more boxes you number, the further your vote can go. That said, if the thrill of messing with the polling officials working through the night appeals to you as much as it appeals to me, then it’s your patriotic duty to number every box below the line.

Voting in the House of Representatives is unchanged, you must number all the boxes on the green Lower House form, though you are still allocating your preferences to whomever you decide, in the order you choose. Preference deals will not impact your vote if you don’t rely on the how-to-vote cards.
That said, the how-to-vote cards are excellent “cheat sheet” explainers when it comes to the values of your local candidate. If they’re encouraging you to give second preference to neo-Nazis or various other hate groups *cough* One Nation *cough cough*, it’s probably best to number that candidate lower in your preferences.

If you feel the urge to add a box to your voting form, just so you can ‘Vote 1 Megatron’ or whatever else the kids are doing these days, DON’T.
The vote you waste could make all the difference.
Clive Palmer was elected to the House of Representatives in the 2013 election by a margin of just 53 votes. Scores of remorseful Brexit voters have come forward since electing to Leave the EU, saying that they never believed their vote would count, as they expected the Remain campaign to be successful.
Taking your right to vote seriously, voting for what you want for the future is paramount to maintaining the integrity of the nation. If you don’t believe this to be true, have a look at the #Bregret tweets. The regret felt by the Brexit voters and the economic meltdown that came from their actions is testament to the power of a voting public.

Your vote is one of the most important tools you have in a democratic state. Understanding how your vote works is matter of utmost importance. Knowing that you and you alone control your preference flow will help you to make an informed choice at the polling station.

For more information on Senate preferences, contact the AEC directly or visit their website here.

Lessons from the Brexit: Say “no” to meh

Voting in Australia is compulsory. At elections, referendums, and plebiscites, all Australian citizens over the age of 18 are expected to cast a vote. This shouldn’t be news for anyone living in this country, but given how many voters fail to form opinions on political matters, there is a need to remind the populace of this every few years.
Your vote matters and you need to know what you’re voting for.

Widely shared Brexit comment from the Financial Times' website

Widely shared Brexit comment from the Financial Times’ website

The UK referendum on EU membership has seen a tremendous global backlash as the victory of the Leave movement impacted the British and international economic markets. The British stock exchange has had its greatest-ever single day fall, with the pound falling to levels not seen since 1985. Prime Minister David Cameron has stepped down, there is a new push for Scottish independence, and global markets have suffered sharp losses. The Brexit vote was a victory for misinformation and ignorance as the bigotry of those on the far right was put ahead of the interests of the United Kingdom. Yet, within hours of the result being finalised, those behind the push to Leave the EU had conceded that everything they had promised to come from the Brexit was a lie. UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage admitted that the pledge of $350M per week for the National Health Service (NHS) was “a mistake”. Former London Mayor, face of the Leave campaign, and possibly the next British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, accepted that leaving the European Union wouldn’t mean “pulling up the drawbridge“, and that immigration would likely continue unabated.
Many commentators looking at the Brexit wreckage are now speculating that, as UK referendums are non-binding, the Parliament could refuse to bend to the will of the public and take the Brexit issue to an early general election.
One Leave voter told the BBC that he was “quite shocked” as he didn’t think his vote would have counted, echoing the shock of many who voted Leave without considering the ramifications of their actions.
It seems as though denial was the order of the day as Britons turned out en masse to issue a protest vote that none expected to succeed. Only, succeed it did. And with the success of the Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum comes a powerful question:
Is this what happens when the general public doesn’t care about a major political issue and its consequences?

This week Australia goes to the polls, choosing our next government and our political fate for the next three years. If, as pundits believe, the Coalition form government for a second term, there will be a national plebiscite on the issue of same-sex marriage. Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that, even if the plebiscite does pass, it will be non-binding with Coalition MPs then being allowed a conscience vote on the matter.
If the ALP form government, Bill Shorten has said that he will move for a free vote on the matter within 100 days.
The difference here is important. If Australians elect Bill Shorten and the ALP, there will be no plebiscite, there will be a vote on the floor of Parliament as MPs do the job they were elected to do.
If, however, we choose to keep the dysfunctional Coalition government, we will be returning to the polls in the next year for a taxpayer-funded $160M opinion poll, that the Prime Minister has already committed to ignoring. Whether or not you personally support marriage equality, needless waste such as this must be prevented.
Many are now calling on the Coalition to scrap the plebiscite altogether, with all legitimate polling showing that Australians overwhelmingly support marriage equality, despite much of the Coalition being against it. The plebiscite may simply be one more way for the Coalition to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century, but it is being exposed as a weapon of hate, a wasteful exercise in economic mismanagement, and we now know it will be disregarded by the government that called for it in the first place.

It must be said, even with a free vote, there is no guarantee that same-sex marriage will pass the Parliament. The Coalition are far more likely to close ranks and vote against marriage equality out of spite if they lose to the ALP at the election, again prolonging the issue.
The best result for Australians supporting marriage equality would be scrapping the plebiscite AND a free vote for Coalition MPs. Though, it would take an enormous grass-roots movement to secure this result from the Liberal party, especially with über-conservative Scott Morrison waiting in the wings.

If, like 11% of Vote Compass respondents, you’re neutral on the issue, you’re also part of the problem. In a plebiscite or referendum there is never an additional option titled “Meh”. You need to form an opinion. In this instance, either you support gay marriage, or you don’t, it’s that simple.
It doesn’t stop there, political apathy, as seen in the Brexit, is seeing many Australians lining-up to issue protest votes based on their dislike of the big-two parties, Labor and Liberal. Pauline Hanson is in with a chance at being elected to the Senate, an anti-vaccination group has a chance of picking up the protest “donkey vote” because of their position on the NSW Senate ballot forms. These are not acceptable results. The economic meltdown that came from the Brexit is not an acceptable result. People need to start paying attention to the substance of politics instead of claiming to not care about politics at all. The last thing you want is to wake up the morning after an election, as many did after making Tony Abbott Prime Minister, wondering where it all went wrong.
Your vote has real world consequences, you need to make sure it counts.

Political Journalism: You’re Doing It Wrong

Yellow journalism represents a corruption of journalistic integrity, sacrificing legitimate news for manufactured sensationalism. Rarely is it more evident than in the newsrooms of the Murdoch media empire, yet in this election a surprisingly large number of Australian media outlets have fallen prey to the clickbait tendencies of the yellow press.
Last week, The Sydney Morning Herald broke a story about Greens preferences in the NSW seat of Sydney, safely held by Labor deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, by a margin of 12%. Fairfax ran with the headline:

Greens preference Fred Nile candidate in Sydney over gay, Indigenous Liberal

The lede left no doubt as to the angle of the story,

Untitled

Along with a series of tweets, Fairfax pushed their case hard and within hours Fred Nile was trending Australia-wide. According to the story, the Greens were “effectively declaring the Christian Democratic Party would be a better choice for the seat”.
The condemnation came thick and fast. It was proof, some claimed, that the Greens were just another political party, that they were extremists, that the Greens will make alliances with anyone and do whatever it takes to gain power.

Amongst the manufactured outrage, what was barely mentioned was the fact that the preferences outlined on the how-to-vote card put the Christian Democrats 9th, and the Liberals 10th. Labor was to receive fourth preference.
Because Sydney is a very safe Labor seat, because the Greens refused to consider a preference deal with the Liberal party, and because of how the preferential voting system works, the Greens had essentially drawn a line underneath Tanya Plibersek. The message should have been clear: all parties and candidates placed after the ALP on the how-to-vote card did not represent any of the Greens values. End of story.
Yet this wasn’t how it was interpreted by those reporting on the non-event.

A large portion of the article was devoted to explaining the hateful bigotry of the CDP with little room given to explaining why the Greens decision to preference Fred Nile second-from-last was so much worse than the choice made by the Liberal Party to give second preference to Fred Nile.

Buried at the end of the article is the briefest of mentions that Geoffrey Winters, the aforementioned gay, Indigenous Liberal candidate for Sydney, has preferenced the sometimes racist, openly homophobic CDP second on their how-to-vote cards. This would seem to be a far more apparent conflict of personalities and policies than the Greens choice to put the CDP and Liberal party last, yet Fairfax ran with a misleading smear against the Greens in an effort to sway public opinion against the growing influence of the left-wing party.
Last month, Fairfax ran a Geoffrey Winters puff piece, in which he claimed that because he was a proud, gay, Indigenous man, he was the model of the modern Liberal candidate. Apparently the party of Cory Bernardi (once claimed that marriage equality would lead to legalised bestiality), George Christensen (compared anti-bullying programs for LGBTIQ+ youth to the grooming of children by paedophiles), and Tony Abbott (said Indigenous communities are a “lifestyle choice”, closeted support for terra nullius, feels “threatened” by homosexuality) is the party of self-loathing.

The content of this article was quickly picked up and shared by a number of other outlets:
HuffPo –  claimed that the Greens were preferencing Tanya Plibersek seventh, despite their own media showing that Labor were preferenced fourth; also included a number of tweets describing the Greens as stupid, pathetic, and hypocritical.
The Guardian – didn’t bother to discuss the gay, Indigenous Liberal party candidate preferencing the CDP second, instead ran a quote from him describing the Greens decision as “surprising and disappointing”.
Junkee – went some way to explaining how preferences will work in Sydney, but did little to explain why the story itself is a red herring.

All continued to focus on the Greens nontroversy, rather than examine the claims of a SMH puff-piece last month. Geoffrey Winters may be a proud gay man, but he is aligning himself with a man who would describe Mr Winters’ lifestyle as “unnatural, immoral, unhealthy and sinful” and believes that the Liberal candidate suffers from a mental disorder.

Ultimately, the Greens backed down and changed the how-to-vote cards, putting the CDP last and the Liberal Party second last, in a token move to appease those who wouldn’t have voted for the Greens in any case.

Any voter who was to follow the Greens how-to-vote card for the seat of Sydney would see their vote go first to the Greens, then the Socialist Alliance, followed by the Animal Justice Party before finally helping to re-elect Tanya Plibersek in the seat Labor has held since 1969. Neither Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats nor the Liberal Party would get a look in.
The author of the article knew this. The editors at Fairfax knew this. The journalists who perpetuated the story knew this. Therein lies the problem.

While 19th century media barons like Pulitzer and Hearst encouraged yellow journalism in order to sell more newspapers, its return to dominance in the 21st century has less to do with profit margins and more to do with the inability of some writers to work independently.

Many members of the Australian media are very capable of political analysis, separating fact from spin, reporting stories on merit rather than taking their lead from Liberal/ALP propaganda.
Unfortunately many more are incapable of thinking for themselves. They are overly reliant on sub-editors for guidance, the lack of which is destroying an entire generation of new media journalists.
This is the great tragedy of our age. Those working in the media will be incapable of creating original fact-based content as their prejudices come into play, influencing the story they turn out with no one to correct them.

It is entirely plausible that many Australian journalists do not know how to cover an election beyond following what others are doing and engaging in groupthink; it’s possible that the 24-hour news cycle has worn many down; and it could just be the case that a 55-day election campaign is just too much for journalists constantly searching for fresh news stories.
But then if that is the case, perhaps they chose the wrong career.

 

Have You Got What You Paid For?

Australia is facing a massive deficit in the 2016 election – no matter which party forms government, the next leader of the country will have knifed a sitting Prime Minister from their own party. For many people, this creates tremendous trust issues at the polling booth.

Because of the presidential nature of our elections, those voting for a Turnbull-led Liberal Party are voting for Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party for the next three years. Yet recent history tells us that this is far less than certain. Most pundits are openly predicting Turnbull will be replaced by Scott Morrison well before the 2019 election. Turnbull himself holds very little trust in the broader electorate due to his failure to hold to his principles.
Kevin Rudd may have made the necessary changes to prevent the overnight usurpation of a Labor Prime Minister following his triple-cross of Julia Gillard, but Bill Shorten was the man behind both of those betrayals. The lack of trust in Shorten has little to do with the process and more to do with the man. While the ALP try to sell the image of a unified party and hope voters have forgotten the turmoil of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments, Shorten remains an unknown quantity and deeply unpopular.
As such, voters face the dilemma of not knowing who it is they are voting for in this election.

Turnbull and Shorten represent everything wrong with the Americanisation of election campaigning in Australia. A union boss and a merchant banker, neither have been elevated on the strength of their ideals, instead we have two men who rose to the fore based on their ability to cut deals.
Wildly popular with voters for holding fast to his beliefs in the face of an increasingly conservative Liberal Party, Turnbull sacrificed everything to Prime Minister towards the end of last year. This move has cost him dearly: Turnbull is presently facing a 10% swing against him in is own seat as voters reject the man who appears to have few true values. Earlier this month, a Fairfax-Ipsos poll put the ALP ahead of the Coalition for the first time since Turnbull replaced Abbott in September.
Bill Shorten has been edging closer as preferred PM since the election was called a month ago. Of course, this is no endorsement for Shorten. Voters remember the role he played in deposing two sitting Prime Ministers, putting his ego ahead of the good of the country. As a result, Shorten lost much of the goodwill afforded him by the role he played in the Beaconsfield mine collapse. His dull personality, scripted responses, and lack of substance, highlight his failure to provide any real opposition to the government’s posturing. His tepid reaction to the Border Farce operation in Melbourne last year solidified his position as a man without direction.
Bill Shorten will not win this election, Malcolm Turnbull will lose it.

Turnbull has proved himself to be unprincipled. He stands for nothing and yet despite this rather than because of it, will likely be replaced within months of an electoral victory. His reward for sacrificing all of his values will be rejection by the party that never really seemed to want him as leader.
Shorten is bound to continue as Labor leader beyond the election, though his time in Parliament is telling. His success is reliant on the weakness of those he seeks to supplant, his support comes from those who would benefit from his ascent.

Over the next two weeks, Australia will be forced to choose between two men whose ideologies can be surmised by their initials. Malcolm Turnbull is empty and Bill Shorten is full of it, their promises are worthless and their rhetoric is hollow.
No matter who wins on July 2, Australia loses.

Alzheimer’s Australia calls out election candidates

National dementia body, Alzheimer’s Australia, has called on candidates in this year’s federal election to commit to fully funding a National Dementia Strategy.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, the not-for-profit association directly contacted candidates for every lower house seat, highlighting the number of people living with dementia in each electorate.

Spokesperson for Alzheimer’s Australia, Sonia Byrnes, said dementia is a national health priority.

“There are currently 353,800 Australians living with dementia. Without a serious medical breakthrough that number is projected to soar to almost one million by 2050,” she said.

“Alzheimer’s Australia is saying there are this many people in your electorate that need your commitment and support – will you help them?”

In the division of Cunningham, Alzheimer’s Australia tweeted at the candidate for the Greens Cath Blakey, Liberal candidate Michelle Blicavs, and the incumbent Labor MP Sharon Bird.

The tweets drew attention to a statistic showing that 2,608 people are presently living with dementia in the seat of Cunningham.

In calling for a federal focus on dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia cited a 2014 study showing a more than 200% rise in dementia rates across the Illawarra over the next three decades.

“It’s certainly going to pose an enormous challenge, much of which might be alleviated with proper planning and support put in place now.” Ms Byrnes said.

Greens candidate for Cunningham, Cath Blakey, said that heading in to this election, neither the Labor nor Liberal parties have a dementia policy in place.

“It’s really shocking that all levels of government have been reducing funding for this issue,” she said.

“The Greens plan is to commit $40 million per year for dementia research, we’ll be taking that in to the next parliament.”

While Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the Greens commitment, the health association added it would be the first step in a long process.

“A fully-funded national dementia strategy will ensure there are actions and safeguards in place for the coming years regardless of the political climate,” Ms Byrnes said.

After a recent Roy Morgan Poll showed nine out of 10 Australians would support a national strategy for dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia felt it needed to bring it to the attention of politicians.

“For a political candidate it’s a lot of potential votes, we need to remind them of that and keep all sides accountable.” Ms Byrnes said.

“We’re starting a conversation. It’s a conversation that is long-overdue in this country and extends beyond our election ask.”

Alzheimer’s Australia is asking all political parties to commit to:

  • $1.3 million to make Australia a more dementia-friendly place for people with dementia
  • $15 million per annum for dementia-specific respite services
  • $1 million per annum to improve quality of care in aged care –  led by consumers

It’s like the 1980s all over again

History is repeating itself in the upcoming election. The last double dissolution election was held in the 1980s and the last time the Liberal Party led us into a double-D election was also during the eighties. The 1980s kicked off with a Prime Minister named Malcolm, just like today. The leader of the Liberal Party in the mid-eighties was a multi-millionaire, as is Mr Turnbull. We have a Rhodes scholar and a union boss, again. The Labor leader is from Melbourne and the Liberal leader from Sydney, again. Class warfare is a defining factor on the political landscape while neoliberalism dominates the economic landscape. And, as can be said to be the case for two different Treasurers of the eighties – the present Treasurer will likely become the next Prime Minister.
When future generations look back at the tumultuous Parliament dissolved shortly after the Budget, it will be fairly evident that the election held this year was mostly just a reflection of those glory years of human accomplishment, the 1980s.

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In this election, Malcolm Turnbull is basically George McFly. Why? Beyond the fact that he is bound to be replaced for the sequels, the Prime Minister has been so bullied by the far right-wing of the Coalition with their 1950s values, that he is only a shadow of the man he once was. Ideals he claimed to be central to his identity were abandoned in the Faustian bargain he struck with the forces responsible for his ascendancy. He has cast aside any and all progressive positions he once held in an attempt to ingratiate himself with right-wing extremists inside the Liberal and National parties. Perhaps in some alternate reality Turnbull could be a successful PM, but the man we have today is weak-willed and unable to stand up for himself. He may have been told that leading the country was his destiny, but it’s going to take a lot more than a DeLorean with a flux capacitor to help him win this election.

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The Clown Prince of CrimeUnion Thuggery… the ALP, Bill Shorten is no stranger to bad jokes, with his leadership being the least funny of all the cruel pranks he has played on the Australian people. Despite his profile, Shorten has failed to define himself or the role he would play as a potential PM, leading few voters to treat him as a serious threat to Turnbull’s rule. It seems that no matter how this Joker tries to endear himself to the masses, he cannot escape the perception that he is a power-hungry sociopath with a disregard for political conventions that led him to oust two first term Prime Ministers. Australia deserves a better class of Labor leader, and Shorten isn’t up to the job.

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The Deputy Prime Minister is the sort of man who, once you let him in the House, will destroy everything in sight. His early career was defined by an indifference to the rules set by his masters, though *spoiler alert* it isn’t likely to survive this election. Because Barnaby Joyce chose to become Gina Rinehart’s lapdog, he will likely be forced back to the Senate or out of politics altogether. If he thought giving up any values he may have held for a chance at winning a billionaire’s favour was a good idea, he was probably hitting the home-brewed hooch too hard.

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The faithful deputy to a string of Liberal leaders, Julie Bishop is a very clever politician. She has successfully embraced social media, gathering a following among voters who place personality above policy when it comes to popularity. A widely respected and influential Foreign Minister, Bishop has a long, strong record of working to build and secure Australia’s profile internationally. Because of this, JBish is an alien in her own party room. For much of the Coalition, achieving any measure of success could be considered a betrayal of party values. Of course, this hasn’t always been the case. In the 1980s, as a lead lawyer for CSR in their battle against compensation for asbestos victims, Bishop showed her Liberal Party values, helping to deny those dying of cancer any form of recompense from the company that caused it. One might now wonder whether the ghosts of Wittenoom still haunt her, if she would wish for some kind of extra-terrestrial healing power, to fix the lives she helped to destroy.

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For the latte sipping, inner-city lefties, Tanya Plibersek has attained a cult-like following. Her passionate, outspoken nature has inspired countless voters to keep her in office for almost twenty years. They’re prepared to forget the fact that, despite claiming to be a champion for LGBTIQ+ rights, she supported and defended Labor’s bipartisan rejection of marriage equality for a number of years, because any criticism of the deputy leader of the Opposition is tantamount to sexism. The cult of Tanya could be said to resemble the following of Gozer the Gozerian in its single-mindedness. For many of those involved, the prospect of any other party or person filling the seat of Sydney would be a disaster of biblical proportions.

The Grand High Witch of the Senate, George Brandis has spent much of his time advocating for the little man: the hateful bigot and the climate change denier; all the while fighting against the evils of society, such as the arts and human rights. While no one would ever directly accuse Brandis of despising younger people, possibly due to fear of being ‘fried’, he certainly does have a hatred of all things Green, comparing green politics to the values of the Nazi party. But it would seem as though Brandis lacks a sense of irony, as he oversaw some of the more totalitarian decisions of the Abbott/Turnbull years, working to suppress the Timor-Leste government and declaring journalists enemies of the state if they reported what whistleblowers disclose about intelligence operations. Out of touch and ignorant, the Attorney-General personifies the ideology of the Liberal Party of Australia.

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A parasitic life-form, Christopher ‘The Thing’ Pyne attempts to imitate perceived human interactions, and will absorb any who might disagree with the policies issued by his various portfolios. As education minister, he moved to deregulate universities and reintroduced the school chaplaincy program – banning secular social workers from providing guidance and assistance to troubled school children. This, of course, has led to reports of troubled schoolchildren with mental health issues, seeking answers and help, to have their questions ignored as they are told that only Jesus can solve their problems and, for some bizarre reason, that dinosaurs aren’t real. Pyne refused to explain why chaplains were a superior service for the schools, though one would suspect it had a lot to do with the size of donations from certain religious lobby groups. But then, Pyne has a long history of refusing to provide answers for his decisions, famously declaring himself a ‘fixer’ when it came to questions around finance that he had previously claimed to be inextricably linked to the deregulation of university funding. He thrives on this though, loving the attention his attitude brings. Yet, behind the smug answers is a greasy layer of contempt for the general public. His is an attitude of patriarchal supremacy; a confidence that he knows what’s best and those who won’t get on board will be assimilated.

Mathias Cormann is a man who struggles with identity. Since taking power in 2013, he has only been able to discuss the government’s finances in terms of what Labor did. Questions relating to this years budget were all answered in a manner that implied he had no clue what Scott Morrison had handed down, as he had only just got up-to-date with what the ALP did three years earlier. The parallels with Principal Vernon are endless, yet the most striking similarity is that they could both accurately be referred to as ‘Dick’. Don’t mess with the Finance Minister, Australia. All you’ll get is bull.

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One is a weird-looking, sadistic pinhead, unaware of Earth’s customs and governed by an Abbott. The other is a Cenobite. Quite possibly the least competent politician in Australian history, Peter Dutton is a man without equal. Following his push to introduce a GP co-payment and cut funding to Medicare, he was overwhelmingly declared the worst health minister in 35 years. Contemptible, unfeeling, unbalanced, stupid, cruel, sexist, and one of the few remaining MPs who walked out of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation, Dutton’s continued existence on the front bench is an insult to good taste, common sense and the Australian people. Whether he’s trying to claim that asylum seekers burning themselves to death on his watch is the fault of refugee advocates or laughing at the fate of the Pacific Islanders whose homes will soon be swallowed by rising sea levels, this semi-sentient root vegetable has bumbled his way through his entire political career.

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As a result of her appearance on Q&A, Kelly O’Dwyer has helped frame the 2016 election by reigniting the class warfare debate. The Assistant Treasurer’s rambling response to a reasonable question about tax breaks for the rich, in which she claimed that providing small business with the means to buy a $6000 toaster meant that the government was helping those struggling to survive on the minimum wage because maths. What does she have in common with Rocky Dennis? Both have experience when it comes to discrimination; except that O’Dwyer is more used to reinforcing its place in society through her friends at News Corp.

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Former Chief of Staff to John Howard, Arthur Sinodinos has gone some way to proving Vizzini’s claim that Australia is entirely peopled with criminals. His appearance before ICAC in 2014 was memorable for what it exposed; he is either incompetent, ignorant, and oblivious – or he is corrupt. It may be more accurate to say he is one small part of a very corrupt system. Whatever the case, Sinodinos’ latest stunt, refusing to appear at a Senate inquiry into NSW Liberal Party donations, helps sell the case for a federal anti-corruption watchdog. Both Labor and Liberal parties oppose the idea, as they alternate between claiming that corruption doesn’t exist in Canberra and stating that existing arrangements, such as Senate inquiries, are more than capable of exposing corruption. So while the ALP may try to claim that Sinodinos is hiding something by refusing to comply with the investigation, any suggestion that this may lead to a federal ICAC is simply inconceivable.

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Despite having been in the Senate since 1997, Marise Payne has seemingly come from nowhere to be named Defence Minister in the Turnbull government. The public knew very little about the NSW Senator prior to her appointment, it was almost as if she had been made up overnight, not unlike a certain Dorothy Michaels. Only time will tell whether Payne turns out to be another in a long line of puppet ministers in the Defence portfolio, selected for their capacity to toe the government line and do exactly as instructed, or if she is capable of standing out in what should be a key ministry for the government.

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Elected in 2013, the baby-faced Craig Laundy sought to make a name for himself in his first term, initially seeking to define himself as an independent thinker and somewhat progressive but as time went on, he learnt the importance of following instructions, and was rewarded with a parliamentary secretary position. It is believed that there is a soul to be found somewhere in his body but unlike Chucky, we don’t yet know if he will be a force for good or for evil. What we do know is that running for the Liberal party is child’s play: do as you’re told and you will go far.

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In the event that he becomes the next Treasurer of Australia, Chris Bowen has the potential to shape the future of this country. Of course, for the man behind Labor’s disastrous Malaysia Solution, any measure of success will likely be a Christmas miracle. An avowed Keynesian, he looks to end the failed economic policies in place since the 1980s, rebuild the trust in the Treasury, and will be forced to reform the taxation system. In a country that hates change, Bowen certainly has his work cut out for him. He will doubtless be painted as an economic terrorist the same vein as Hans Gruber by the Coalition and parts of the media, someone looking to raid government coffers to fund his socialist infrastructure agenda and destroy the housing market by limiting tax write-offs. The real question is whether he will be prepared to put a stop to corporate influence and the purchase of political favours by ‘donors’.

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Desperately clinging to the seat of Grayndler as though it were his personal Holy Grail has seen Anthony Albanese ally himself with certain goose-stepping morons. Electing to adopt the Daily Telegraph’s campaign to “Save Our Albo”, has almost certainly sealed his fate with voters who can remember the Tele’s campaign to destroy Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. Voters are left to wonder why News Corp would throw their weight behind a Labor politician after having been so unabashedly partisan in their support of the Abbott/Turnbull governments. Albanese chose to pen a column in the Telegraph, explaining what he does for voters and attempting to sell the idea that voting for the Greens would be worse than helping Hitler to find the Ark of the Covenant. Some have tried to claim that, just like Walter Donovan, this is a relationship of convenience – if News Corp wants to help Albo, that’s its perogative. But at the end of the day, he chose poorly and so this may just turn out to be Albo’s last crusade.

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Stephen Conroy is rumoured to be at least half-human. With the emotional range of a Vulcan, the moral compass of a Klingon, and the logic of William Shatner, Conroy spent a fair part of his time in the Rudd/Gillard governments working to censor the internet and helping pave the way for the complete gutting of the NBN by Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Open to the idea of a fascist state, as Communications Minister he gleefully proclaimed his “unfettered legal power” over telecommunications regulation. Some have romanticised the ideals of Conroy, forgetting that, like Spock, he is an arrogant, oversimplifying jerk.

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A large percentage of experts believe Kevin Andrews to be a fictional character created by either a deeply disturbed individual or a comic genius. Racist, sexist, bigoted, anti-environment and anti-worker, Andrews is often described simply as ‘deeply conservative’. In a career defined by controversial statements and policies, his most recent scandal, branch-stacking, has the potential to end his career for good – though, like the plot of Pee-Wee’s Public Masturbation, there will likely be little impact in the longer-term.

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Bumbling and inept are the two best descriptors of Laskey, the security guard at Walley World. For George Christensen, they barely scratch the surface. You see, George hates everyone – from Jews to Muslims, women, gays, and environmentalists alike – no one is spared from his endless stream of rabid attacks. In his spare time (when he isn’t spewing his uneducated bile at any one who doesn’t fit the holy trinity of white, straight, and male) Christensen enjoys fantasising about reintroducing capital punishment and bullying LGBTIQ+ children – linking programs designed to protect them from such bullying to paedophilia. A rumour was started in May 2016 that Christensen collects Nazi paraphernalia and keeps a private shrine to Hitler, but at the time of publishing this had yet to be substantiated.

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According to Bill Shorten, Cory Bernardi is a homophobe. According to any reasonable interpretation of the definition, Cory Bernardi is a homophobe. Most of his colleagues have publicly distanced themselves from his comments over the years, because of ridiculously offensive statements such as the time he claimed it was appropriate for a man to put his partner in a headlock. He denies climate change, believes refugees dying in detention and at sea should pay for their own funerals, and argues that marriage equality will lead to legalised bestiality. Bernardi has a history of throwing other members of his own party under the bus if it will help raise his profile. Even Skeletor would find his self-serving nature to be a bit over the top.

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Leaving Parliament after almost thirty years, Bronwyn Bishop must be extremely grateful that she is no longer Minister for Aged Care. While the former Speaker will be largely remembered for the expenses scandal that helped end her career, it was bathing elderly nursing home residents in kerosene that truly defined it. Of course, most forget that as Shadow Health Minister, Bishop openly supported tobacco advertising in the face of legislation to prevent it. At various times she has supported:
– forced adoption of children under five;
– banning headscarves (but no other forms of religious attire) from schools; and
– making flag burning a criminal offence.
Unfortunately, because Australians tend to have the memories of goldfish, the title of her future biographies will doubtless draw parallels with Daisy Werthan, the shortest odds being on: Flying Ms. Bronnie.

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Gruff, ill-tempered, and unhelpful, David Leyonhjelm cast an eternal stench over the Senate during his brief tenure. He made a fictional character a senior policy advisor and negotiated the loosening of Australia’s strict gun laws in return for his support on immigration legislation. Elected by mistake, Leyonhjelm holds firm to his belief that wind turbines cause adverse health in those living nearby, going as far as instigating a Senate inquiry into the matter – despite this claim being debunked a number of times. Leyonhjelm relies on falsehood and ideological dogma to make his case for stripping back gun control, claiming Australians can only be safe if we are all permitted to carry a concealed weapon. Completely lacking a social conscience, he also has tried to make the case for tobacco, claiming Australia’s smoking laws are a breach of human rights – possibly the right to cause cancer in others. Unlike Hoggle, we shouldn’t need Leyonhjelm at any point in the future.

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Clive Palmer has been unfavourably compared to Jabba the Hutt a number of times over the years. With Palmer’s shady business deals, a propensity towards intimidation, and a resistance to Jedi mind tricks, it is very difficult to see any connection with the Tatooine-based gangster beyond the physical, and fat-shaming has no place in modern society. The mining billionaire is still yet to say whether he will run for the Senate in QLD, after accepting that he has zero chance of retaining his seat in Fairfax – though he may not even make it to the election, as there is a high chance of his being strangled by a former slave Queensland Nickel worker.

Wyatt Roy wasn't alive in the 1980s, as such it makes any comparison for him rather difficult. However, his feeble memory and unquestioning loyalty to our benevolent dictator, it's abundantly clear that he has been de-evolved into a Goomba.

Wyatt Roy wasn’t alive in the 1980s, as such it makes any comparison with this decade rather difficult for him. However, his feeble memory, unquestioning loyalty to our benevolent dictator, and the fact that he works in the ministry of fellow reptilian Christopher Pyne, all make it abundantly clear that he has been de-evolved into a Goomba.