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There's Never Been A Better Time To Be A Postman

We needed a knife-edge for all those sausages.

03/07/2016 12:57 PM AEST | Updated July 15, 2016 12:56
Roger Donovan / Alamy
Mwahahaha, the power!

Australia's 2016 general election will be decided by postal votes. In an era when innovation is the buzzword, the leader of that era will be chosen by those who sharpened a pencil, licked an envelope and possibly spilt tea on the ballot paper.

Yep, if you're missing the good old days, this election is something to write home about.

Given what dominated the headlines on polling day, it's appropriate that this election has hit a snag. But the further extension of what will be remembered (or happily forgotten) as one of the longest campaigns on broken record is actually a good thing. Behold democracy – every vote counts and will be counted. And then possibly recounted.

We needed a knife-edge for all those sausages.

In this betting-mad nation, odds were that we would wake up this morning to a slightly smug silver-haired Prime Minister in Malcolm Turnbull, the self-appointed Chosen One who had saved his Party from a backlash against Abbott.

Instead, we have the strange situation where the smug one is most likely the 'loser'. Beaming Bill Shorten – the man many said was 'unelectable' and who will probably prove to be just that, but who has burnt the Liberal sausage on the electoral barbecue so badly that he has rendered it inedible.

A hung parliament would be a sign of the times in a country where both major parties have become so similar that voters can't tell them apart. Truth is, they are both on the nose, and it's the protest vote that will deny one of them a majority.

But do we get the leaders we deserve, or don't get as is the case today?

Here was our chance to tell our elected officials what we wanted, and collectively we couldn't decide. And we had longer than ever to decide. But rather than embrace all that time we were doubly disappointed that the double dissolution had triggered a marathon campaign.

Here was a chance for us to rectify all that we lament about modern politics, that it's about soundbites, that it's too superficial, that it's about personality (or lack of) rather than policy.

We got what was coming. We got eight weeks and three debates to hear about policies. Bill Shorten boasts he had a hundred of them! That didn't sit well with us either. But we simply can't have it both ways. We complain that there's no focus on policy these days, but when there is focus on policy we complain that it's boring

Politicians know that, so they distil policies into slogans like 'jobs and growth'. That's on the nose with us too.

We all need to be careful, politicians and punters, that we don't create the sort of jaundiced political environment where freaks and bigots like Donald Trump might prosper simply because they are willing to speak their minds, or their mindlessness.

Despite its length, on the whole this campaign was positive. Sure, there were aberrations, but it would be naïve to suggest that only one side was guilty of trying to deceive the electorate. 'Mediscare' will be remembered as reprehensible by those who tried to tell us that negative gearing is the preserve of savvy teachers and nurses – oh, and fake tradies.

On polling day I heard a man from Afghanistan who had recently become an Aussie explaining how, in his country of birth, people could be killed or have their fingers cut off for trying to have a say in who governs them.

So as we all sit around today and bemoan the state of Australian politics, let's instead revel in the fact that it looks like every single last vote cast in our general election is going to count. That, if nothing else, might give us renewed faith in our democracy, even if it means that collectively we decided that we couldn't decide.

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