Australia Goes to the Polls.

vote for....

But not quite yet.

Back in England, although I am not overly political, I at least knew who I liked and who I disliked politically, as well as which party I wanted to win come general election time.

Here in Australia, I’m not so sure.

In three weeks and three days from now, on August 21, Australia will be voting for their next government. Julia Gillard, who ousted former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a bloodless coup, called the election a little earlier than expected. Of course, she had some pleasing statistics regarding the popularity of her party at the time to help her with the decision.

ballot boxBut as the clock ticks down to the day of reckoning, the lead she did enjoy is narrowing fast. According to a poll a couple of days ago, her ruling Labour Party now only hold a slim lead of 52% to 48% over the Liberal-National coalition. The leader of the Liberal-National coalition is Tony Abbott.

Just like in England then, it’s a two horse race. I know the Lib Dems had a say in the end at the last election, but you know what I mean. But here, it’s Julia Gillard versus Tony Abbott.

Abbott says he’ll reduce immigration down to 170,000, not good news for those of you hoping to get in. He’ll also cut 1.5% off of the company tax rate. This undercuts Gillard’s proposed 1% cut by an additional half percent. Gillard is going to build a train line to Redcliffe. Are you bored yet? I am. Anyway…..

What is different from the UK is that here, voting is compulsory for Australian citizens. It gets worse.

August 21 is a Saturday! Saturday? At least in the UK they had the decency to hold it on a Thursday! But having to go to a polling station on Saturday, what’s all that about?

What about our civil liberties? What about our human rights?

So does compulsory voting work? Apparently, yes. Seems around 95% of the population turn up and of those, only 5% spoil their papers or as it’s called here, put in an “informal vote”. That means they leave the form blank.

The 5% who actually don’t show up are asked to explain themselves. If they have a good excuse, like they were ill or some kind of religious reason, they are let off. The rest are fined $110.

So it’s clearly a serious crime here. More serious, for example, than parking in a one hour zone for more than an hour.

Of course, none of this affects me. I’m not an Australian citizen; I am only a permanent resident. So I get the day off. But next time, I hope I will be an Australian citizen so I’ll need to brush up on my Aussie politics.

But maybe I’ll apply the same rules that I used back in England. It was quite simple really. As soon as a political party got too big for its boots, and that happens when they have been re-elected too many times on the trot, vote for the other side. It redresses the balance.

So on that basis, let’s see who should win now based on historic “big boots” status. Here is a list of the previous to present ruling parties here in Australia since 1949 …..

  • 1949 – 1972 Coalition (Very big boots!)
  • 1972 – 1975 Labour (Slippers)
  • 1975 – 1983 Coalition (Shoes)
  • 1983 – 1996 Labour (Big boots)
  • 1996 – 2007 Coalition (Big boots)
  • 2007 – 20?? Labour (Thongs*)

Clearly Labour and Julia Gillard’s boots are not yet too big. So I’d go for them.

If I could vote, that is.

* If the ‘thongs’ thing threw you out a bit, perhaps my post about being bitten by a Redback spider will answer your concerns.

Australian wages prediction talk.

Worth a mention this, given Tony Abbott’s pledge to cut immigration. According to the latest Clarius Skills Index… hold on, who?

Yes, that’s what I thought too. But they are quite big in specialist recruitment. You can currently download a PDF version of their latest “Clarius Skills Index” from the Clarius home page.

Anyway, according to the press release I saw, they are predicting wages to soar even higher over the next three years, thanks to a national skills shortage.

According to them, wages will increase by an average of 5.4% per annum across “20 professional, associated professional and trade industries” adding an additional $8,200 a year to average annual earnings in Australia by 2013.

So Abbott’s plan to cut immigration may be a vote winner, but it doesn’t sound like it will keep Australia working at full strength.

If you’re looking for work in Australia and hoping to get a 457, I wouldn’t panic yet.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • BobinOz August 13, 2010, 7:46 pm | Link

    Ivan, I do understand where you are coming from, although very difficult for me to say much about it. After all, I have recently come to this country on the back of my wife’s skill, not having any of my own.

    Still, at least there is no culture clash with me. I can drink stubbies and barbecue steak as well as anyone.

    Anyway, I’m here now, you’re stuck with me!

  • Ivan August 12, 2010, 10:35 pm | Link

    Like your post..good sense of humour with informative details.
    Now lets talk about their policies..Well open doors to skilled immigration, I have no objections to that as long as those people are skilled and will have potential contribution to the coutnry. I just do not like Kevin’s big Australia policy, I mean population growth does not gurantee anything, we have enough problem with unemployment rates, infrastructure, culture clash and overpriced housing in Australia already, we dont need to have more people to contribute to that..so sustainable is a good idea..well big Australia is gonna be Big India or Big Asia one day if we are not careful enough.

  • BobinOz July 30, 2010, 7:32 pm | Link

    Hi KV

    You’ve kind of posted your comment in the wrong place really. There’s a raging debate going on elsewhere about the comparison of house prices between Australia and the UK. I can assure you, some people there would go absolutely ‘fous’ (that’s ‘crazy’ for my non-French speaking readers, see I don’t just speak English and Australian). I was going to move your comment over there, but I just do not need to stir it up anymore than it already has been.

    But I would venture to suggest that almost everywhere in Australia is much cheaper than London, if not everywhere. There are some hugely expensive areas in Sydney, but then there are also even more expensive ones in London.

    Good luck with your plans to come over here.

  • BobinOz July 30, 2010, 7:22 pm | Link

    Hi Mardi

    That’s very strange indeed! I got a brochure called “your official guide to the 2010 federal election” today and in it it states “voting is compulsory for Australian citizens on the electoral roll aged 18 years and over…..”

    So if you are ever fined $110 for not voting, you could quite rightfully exclaim “there’s been some kind of mistake!” as you hand over your cash.

  • BobinOz July 30, 2010, 7:18 pm | Link

    Hi Ida

    I’ve got a postal vote application information brochure that came through my door today, I don’t need it. Would you like me to forward it to you?

  • kv July 30, 2010, 1:00 pm | Link

    Hey, I just discoveed your blog looking for information on Stradbroke Island. Going through recent and less recent entries, it is a very interesting read as I’m a frenchman potentially emigrating to Aus in the years to come. I had a closer look at all your price comparisons between England and Australia, however the sole difference between London and the rest of England introduces a bias in the reasoning: as far as I’m concerned, the comparison between prices in Syd/Melbourne/Brisbane and any other city than London is irrelevant, considering the second largest city in the UK doesn’t even gather 1 million inhabitants. So as far as property prices and cost of living goes, there should be a specific calculation based on London prices only vs Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane prices in order to avoid making things uneven
    Just my two cents
    anyway keep on the good work 🙂

  • Mardi July 30, 2010, 12:57 am | Link

    I;m not a Citizen yet only a resident but to my dismay I still have to vote as I’m on the Electoral Roll 🙁

  • Ida Australia + Sweden July 29, 2010, 1:08 am | Link

    Very interesting! My Aussie partner got a good excuse not to vote. He’s in Sweden 🙂 But they always ask every year. So far not fined 🙂

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