Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A Hung Parliament Is Just A First World Problem

Take a deep breath Australia. A hung parliament, contrary to what the screaming headlines are telling you, isn’t the end of the world. We had the courage and patience to overcome this before and it will be done again. Look, I get it – your trepidation is understandable. A flooded road during rains is as far as we got towards a total breakdown in civilisation. In the context of things, Saturday’s results may appear a fit comparison to BREXIT or worse things like the Great Samoan upset of 2011. There is a reason why we are reacting like this. While we leisurely sip our filtered water, breathe in cleaner air than most of the world, watch our Super go up and chook prices go down, there may be a temptation to look at the prospect of a Prime Minister negotiating their way through the next legislative term as ‘totally apocalyptic’. You see, the problem lies in perspective. In a world where 30% of the population doesn’t even know what it’s like to own a toilet, Australians look at their politics and go, ‘crikey, why is God mercilessly punishing us like this’. What you are experiencing is a well-documented condition called ‘a first world problem’. It is a congenital condition that affects people who won the genetic lottery, but the good news is, you can cure yourself with periodic doses of facts, and plenty of perspective. Here’s a bit of both to help you get started.

  • No, Australia isn’t going to lose its coveted AAA credit rating just because the election doesn’t have clear results. That’s like saying watching footy games can make you lose a job. It’s possible that you are too much into footy and miss work regularly, which is why you lost your job. But it’s not watching the footy, but the ‘missing work’ clue that dunnit. A minority government doesn’t automatically downgrade ratings. Its bland fiscal policies and runaway spending that will cause the glint to fade off our gilt-edged bonds. If the rating agencies downgrade us next week, it’s probably because the conditions already exist, not because the indecisive election somehow brought about an overnight change of heart and turned a rosy AAA outlook into junk credit. Did you see how the stock markets reacted on the Monday after the election? They went up. So did the Aussie. Go figure!

  • No, Australia didn’t have a BREXIT moment. Australian elections and the BREXIT are apples and orang-utans - not even the same life form. Commentators and Bill Shorten use these analogies to get your attention, a bit like how teenage kids compare you to the worst thing that ever happened to them. Unless you are a convicted criminal of the worst kind, you know, they know and everybody knows that is just bollocks. BREXIT is a life changing event that unravelled a four decade old union. Australian elections come around every four years. Perspective, mate!

  • Our politics may be messy, but there are worse things happening elsewhere on the globe. No, I am not talking about the political wastelands of the third world or people without toilets. Look at the UK, for example. Do you even know who’s captaining that ship? And don’t get me started on Trump! Cory Bernardi and Peta Credlin may want to see Turnbull get Ned-Starked for not having won 5 or 6 seats more, but hey, he’s just 5 or 6 seats short. I’m no Turnbull fan, but it seems to me that everyone is wildly over-reacting to what is essentially a win. A small win, perhaps. But a win, nevertheless. When the AEC rolls up its sleeves and counts the last postal ballot thirteen days from now, you may even find that Turnbull squeaked through with a simple majority. That may ‘weaken his authority‘, and the scorned few may get their daggers out, but even that isn’t a disaster by any measure.

It’s amusing for me to see all this hyperbole in the media since Saturday. We are a country known for daredevilry and unbridled excitement. But with our lives so predictable and sanitised, we need that extra dose of induced excitement. Which explains the desire to go swimming in the ocean during a storm and journalists plotting international kidnapping. I see this hyperventilation in the media about the hung parliament as a similar attempt to induce excitement into an otherwise boring affair. So, let’s all close our eyes, breathe in and out a few times to relax because what is happening in Australia is plain vanilla compared to even the rest of the Anglosphere, barring Canada. Wait, does anything ever happen in Canada at all? Perhaps, there lies our problem. We just don’t want to be Canada!

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