Why we should all pay attention to this Federal Election

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Right on cue, those people angry that politicians take no notice of them during any given year are angry that politicians are now taking notice of them.

Such is the nature of people’s apathy towards election campaigns and politics in Australia in general.

In just a few short weeks, we’ll go to the polls to either re-elect the Morrison Government, or give Bill Shorten and Labor the keys to the Lodge.

It’s an important decision, and this election has been very policy-focused, making engagement critical.

But too many of us simply couldn’t be bothered, or have decided that interest in the political process and the election campaign just isn’t worth it.

It’s disappointing, because much of the whinging and whining is built on myth.

Of course you see politicians out and about more, making big-money commitments, during campaigns.

That’s the entire point, is it not?

Politicians spend the weeks leading up to the election outlining their policy platform, spending commitments and promises to the electorate.

Based on that, you make an informed decision on who to vote for on election day.

Three years later, you get to look back to ensure that the platform was adhered to, the spending commitments were met and the promises were achieved.

It’s actually a pretty simple process but one we seem to have forgotten.

Which brings us to the next myth – that politicians lie and never actually meet their election commitments.

That’s simply not true, and in the vast majority of cases the commitments that a party goes to the election with are indeed fulfilled; and the money promised flows to where it was committed.

Exceptions? Of course. Circumstances change and yes, in some cases, truths are stretched. But most of the time, our elected leaders actually do what they said they would.

There is actually some really strong policy debate to be had at this election, but our desire to get our information in a nicely presented 60 second package or a perfectly crafted Tweet will most likely ensure that debate never properly happens.

And we as the public are not totally to blame.

The whole election process has been made more difficult by two sections of the political world: the politicians themselves and the media.

Politics is now stage managed to within an inch of its life, and when that happens you get cardboard cutouts like Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten, neither of whom have resonated with the public because we don’t really feel we have a true snapshot of who they are.

As for the media, it’s now difficult for anyone to get a fair and balanced coverage, with more and more mainstream media organisations ‘picking sides’ and making it glaringly obvious.

Combine this with the prevalence of social media as a news source, which is often curated by the end user to appeal to their particular political views, and you remove so much of the legitimate argument and debate that is so desperately needed come election time.

All that considered, the disengagement is understandable, but not acceptable.

In these last few weeks of the campaign, we all need to be more aware of the promises and platforms being laid out by the various political parties.

There is so much policy around taxes, health, climate change and the economy to devour; and unfortunately most of us are going to skim over the details.

It’s not too late, however.

Look at all of the parties’ websites, and explore the detail surrounding the policy commitments.

Tune in to ‘Q&A’ on the ABC or ‘Paul Murray Live’ on Sky News (it’s all about balance, right?) instead of whatever mindless reality crap might be on the main commercial channels.

Read the papers. Follow a party or media organisation on social media you wouldn’t usually support. Listen to AM radio for a while.

If you don’t take the next few weeks seriously, you really have no right to be one of those whingers over the next three years.

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