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The moral conundrum of casting a vote on 2 July

  • 10 June 2016


According to the latest Newspoll, 15 per cent of voters are planning to vote for the minor parties or for an independent candidate. Support for the Greens is running at ten per cent. The leaders of the major parties are worried.

Malcolm Turnbull is warning, 'A vote for the Greens, independents, risks the chaos and instability that we saw in the years of the Julia Gillard government. The only way to be sure that there will be a stable federal government commitment to a national economic plan that will deliver stronger economic growth and more and better jobs is to vote for the Coalition.'

The changes to the Senate voting system made just before the election and the double dissolution of the Parliament have been aimed at reducing the political influence of independents and the minor parties. Understandably, the government is arguing that the difficult economic times ahead will require government to make and implement difficult decisions, and this in turn will require the Senate not to be dysfunctional or unduly obstructionist.

But our government ministers are not just economic managers, and our parliament does not concern itself only with taxation and economic development.

Sadly, the major political parties have forfeited any claim to govern in their own right because they have caused such disillusionment among so many voters about other policy issues with strong moral overtones. Justifiably many voters think they could not trust the Coalition or the Labor Party to implement a fair and coherent asylum and refugee policy or to address the challenge of climate change with the required urgency.

Any voter impressed with Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' or inspired by his visits to asylum seekers on the islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos could not blithely vote for either of the major parties, without first determining how to place some continuing political and moral pressure on them.

Consider the voter of good conscience who is committed to equity, jobs and growth for all Australians, but who is also concerned about the situation of the asylum seekers and proven refugees being held on Nauru and Manus Island.

Neither the Labor Party nor the Coalition during this election campaign is prepared to suggest any realistic solution. They are not prepared to welcome, accept or even discuss New Zealand's offer to take up to 150 refugees a year from these places. The major parties have made a judgment about the majority of voters. They think most