Stand up and be heard

This weekend, Australians will be heading to ballot boxes around the country to elect a government. We will be either booting out our current Labor government and the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, or electing the current Opposition Liberal/National Party coalition as government, headed by Tony Abbott. This is democracy in action!

If I’ve already lost you at the words “government” and “coalition”, then perhaps politics is not your thing. Maybe you’ve lost faith in our countries’ leaders due to scandals, corruption, lies, or self-interest. Maybe you just have too many other priorities in your life that are more important to you than the latest current affairs.

One of the things that I’ve learned to appreciate from my travels is that I am very lucky to be living in a wonderful country like Australia. Many others may take it for granted, but we, as with all other developed countries, probably owe, in large part, our high standard of living to previous governments.  They’ve made our nations wealthier and lifted our standard of living through industrial relations policies, deregulation of financial markets, free trade agreements, and expansive fiscal policies.

If you’re not convinced, or want me to break it down to you in more simpler terms, here are four reasons why you should care about politics:

It’s all about your tax dollars

If you work, you pay income tax. If you purchase goods and services, you pay a GST or VAT or other sales tax. This is money that could have been in your bank account for you to spend on holidays, a fancy meal out, or a hot pair of heels. Instead, it has gone to the tax man to be spent on schools, hospitals, public transport, defence, welfare, and the salaries of public servants. If you’re handing over your cash to someone else, don’t you want to ensure that they’re spending your money wisely?

There are injustices out there that you should care about

Not everyone has it as good as we may have it. Those that are disabled, fleeing from persecution, or terminally ill, need to be cared for. Those that are being exploited or abused need to be protected. And our world is being slowly destroyed by man-made carbon emissions, and needs to be conserved and used sustainably. It’s difficult for us as individuals to do much about any of these, but the government that we elect can do a lot. If you care about these sort of injustices, you should care about what your elected representatives are doing about the causes that are important to you.

You can make a change by casting your vote

If you don’t agree with many of the current government’s policies, you can vote to change who is in power by casting your vote for the party or the person that best represents your values. This is people power in action. You and your fellow citizens have the power to change the future and the fortunes of your country.

You shouldn’t take your democratic right for granted

Finally, you are fortunate to have a right to vote. You have the right to vote for someone that represents your interests, and to make your country more prosperous. Many of our friends around the world live in dictatorships or under military rule, and they have no say in who governs their country. Countless people around the world have died, fighting for the right to vote in free and fair elections. A right that we often take for granted.

Zimbabwe elections

When you vote on election day, don’t forget our friends that have been denied a voice, and know that you can make a difference to the lives of your fellow citizens and the world that we live in.

* Image courtesy of news.com.au

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