Watching the news this week, I came across the story reporting that Australia's labour regime is one of the worst in the world. Hearing this, I thought oh come on. Okay, the Howard government IR changes have caused a lot of suffering, but surely there have to be at least 25 countries worse than us? (I can't imagine being a 10 year old working in an Indian rug factory is much fun, and even my experiences in retail can't be as bad as earning 14c an hour making Nike apparel in Indonesia). However, there was a viewer poll asking whether people agreed that Australia was one of the 25 worst Labour regimes, and a significant minority voted yes.
Sadly, I had to wonder, did everyone who voted know precisely what they were voting for? Perhaps some thought they were voting not on our labour regime, but on the Labor regime, i.e. whether we have one of the worst Labor parties. (Even thinking being in Opposition is, somehow, a regime).
You may not think this is possible, and neither did I, until I heard a story which, had it not come from an unimpeachable source, I would scarcely have believed. Apparently an acquaintance of mine went to the polls at the recent NSW State Election believing it was the Federal Election, and believing that Morris Iemma was the man who brought in the new IR laws, so she voted against him.
Multiply this by all the not-quite-with-it people you know, and the scary possiblity emerges that the entire future of our country rests in the hands of tens of thousands of confused people, who don't quite know who or what they are voting for. And what can the leading political parties do to win the Confused vote? Not much, considering it will no doubt be completely scrambled in their addled little brains between hearing the policy announcements and the time they get to the voting booth (provided, that is, they've worked out what the date is).
Abolish compulsory voting now, that's all I ask.