Preface: At the introduction of my blog site I openly invite readers to join me in the conversations and to comment on my thoughts and opinion pieces. One reader has taken the challenge and shared his viewpoint. Here I share the third in a series of blogs by Justin Baxter. You too may join in the conversation.
About Justin Baxter: Justin was born in the mid north of South Australia and moved to the city at a young age. A member of the local Country Fire Service Brigade and a fulltime Emergency Services Officer in the Gas and Oil industry, Justin has a keen sense of community. Justin understands the worth of community participation. Justin believes that when we live in the “lucky country” and can exercise our democratic right to vote, without fear and without violence, it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to actively participate in the process and not just think about who we vote in once every 4 years.
Nothing quite compares to a bonfire with friends, being drawn in by its warmth, the allure of the flames and the conversation. It’s a place to talk about the day’s local footy and netball results, the weather and it’s a place to reflect. Somehow the conversation invariably leads to politics!
Last weekend I was in that very setting, in the company of friends, and the conversation steered to politics.
Now as is the case with ‘bon fire politics’ the topic is never raised directly, but rather usually brought about as a logical progression of another discussion. In this case it was my seemingly innocent question about the local hospital, which turned to politics. The conversation twisted and turned, all were involved. As the topic culminated it was the final remarks that left me bemused. The words rang out, “We really could use a decent hospital but that won’t happen because we don’t live in a marginal seat”. They continued; “no one is interested, not the local member and certainly not the opposing major party.”
I was confused by this reasoning, how could this be? This was a group of intelligent, articulate people who had seemingly given up on the electoral system. A group of people for whom the answer should be relatively easy, but yet had just given up!
I believe we have been conditioned, over time, to accept that we only have a two party political system. Depending on our politics, we are typically conditioned to vote for our team. We have accepted that we either live in a safe seat or we live in a marginal seat and this blog certainly doesn’t contend with the biggest game changer being the Independent!
So depending on your politics, what happens when the incumbent in the safe seat isn’t living up to your expectations? By all accounts we appear to accept mediocrity; we resign ourselves to becoming less important than those in the marginal seat where significant efforts are routinely made by each team in an effort to put themselves into a winning position.
We do not have to accept mediocrity. We can change this by changing the way we vote. Each and every one of voting age has the power to put their local member on notice. In each safe seat you will see a degree of complacency exhibited so vote to turn your safe seat into a marginal seat, put the majors on notice!
Both believe that safe seats are a right. One only has to consider the recent response of the Liberal Party when Martin Hamilton-Smith resigned and chose to become an independent member. They cried foul; they had the audacity to cry that this was ‘their’ seat. (In all fairness to the Liberal Party, the Labor Party has responded similarly in the past.)
Seats aren’t owned, they are earned, or at least they should be! By continuing to stick with our conditioned vote, we only have ourselves to blame for the neglect we receive in our safe seats. In doing so we are not putting our elected members on notice, we are by default, condoning if not encouraging their complacency.
In casting our vote in a ‘non-traditional’ way we might just be ensuring the outcome of a marginal seat and with that an opportunity to reap the rewards of a hard working MP, one who has earned their seat, your seat!.
Justin Baxter - Guest Blogger