Lack of political education killing true Australian choice

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting

I don’t understand why in America you don’t have to vote but you are required to learn about politics in school. In Australia you are not required to learn about politics in school but you are required to vote.  And yet the BIGGEST impact a free citizen can have on the outcomes of their country is an informed vote.

Surely if a system places such value on the equality of each citizens opinion that they would force each person to provide their opinion – then that system should be equally interested in informing those citizens about how the system they are a part of works.

Now, I am not saying that the US education system should be copied, nor am I saying that there is no education about politics in Australian schools.  What I am saying is that there is no national standardardised implementation of the study and I see this as a major gap and one of the likely reasons that many Australians profess not to understand how our preferential voting system works.

One of my good friends put this really well in a recent Facebook post:

 The absolute unbiased truth: Vote for minor parties if they represent your values best. Vote for whoever represents your values best. We have a preferential system where YOU choose where your vote goes, all the way through the preferences and it passes on at full value.

In a seat which is a fight between Liberal and Labor the only thing that matters in terms of who wins the seat is which comes first out of those two parties on your ballot paper. They can be last and second last and which ever one is second last will still get your vote AT FULL VALUE. Voting a minor party as 1 sends a message to the old parties that they are not representing your values, and it gives funding to the minor party of your choice WITHOUT HAVING ANY IMPACT ON WHO WINS THE SEAT.”

So…back to the issue of education.  When I was in high school you were able to choose politics as a subject in Year 11 and 12, but it definitely wasn’t “required” like maths or science. And perhaps the only other time it was mentioned was in a couple of SOSE classes in year 8.

In 2014,  the Australian government will bring in required studies of Civics and Citizenship from Years 3 to 10 (http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum_1/learning_areas/humanities_and_social_sciences/civics_and_citizenship.html).  That’s a huge step forward.  But am I the only one thinking…where the hell is the requirement for study in Year 11 and 12?  So right when most Aussie’s turn 18 and are being asked to now provide their opinion on the governance of their country, most of them haven’t even thought or been in a class on it in 2 years.  That’s a lifetime to a young person!!

It also brings up the question of how much influence any government in power should have over the creation of the curriculum.  This whole curriculum has been created while the Labor government was in power.  What does this mean for the neutrality of the information presented to young minds of the future?

It’s almost like the “ideal” scenario is that there is a third party/non affiliated with the government or other association that actually writes that part of the curriculum. Because science, maths, english are fairly solid in terms of their interpretation and application: But history is written by the conqueror and politics is defined by those in power.

So…what of those of us who are voting in the Australian Elections this Saturday?  Those of us who missed out on essential information that governs our potential to have positive or meaningful participation in the system that has been chosen to manage the country they live in?

Many Australians are talking about their apathy toward both parties, but with the 2 major parties having $64 million and $67 million in campaign backing verses $1m backing to the next viable party – the average Australian without any particular interest in politics is simply bombarded with two choices: Labor or Liberals.  And no thanks to US Billionaire Rupert Murduch who owns 70% of Australian media, they are getting even less of a choice by being presented with editorial content in newspapers across the country as if it were news.

Without unbiased, consistent education – no society (no matter how intelligent its people) can be expected to make an informed voting decision on country governance.  I just hope that in 2023/2024 – when those in grade 3 next year turn 18, they’ll be able to make better decisions than the rest of us this year.

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2 thoughts on “Lack of political education killing true Australian choice

  1. I would love to see legislation enacted limiting the funding for ‘advertising’ of political parties campaigns, and limits over the ways it can be done, and see much more focus on policies and engagement with the people.

    Off course, I would also prefer voluntary voting. I’ve never voted in an election, I’m a conscientious objector to the notion of forced democracy when my vote will be rendered meaningless by the next person behind me with their donkey vote. I think that we will definitely see an improvement in the politics of Australia with the removal of the mandatory vote.

    But yes, as always, education is the key. Without education, we can not grow and develop as individuals,and our country stagnates.
    I wonder if this new subject will replace religious ed? HA!

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    • But…don’t you create a more powerful donkey vote by not voting? (since you are obviously educated enough to have an informed opinion). i.e. Yes, a donkey vote could potentially cancel your vote out, but there’s not enough for it to be a 50/50 chance of that happening. In 2010, 600k people cast a donkey vote (some of which may have actually been legitimate ordering) (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/every-vote-counts-so-dont-make-an-ass-of-yourself-20130903-2t37i.html), but 14m or more people vote, which means only 4% of the votes are donkey votes. I mean, if the reason you are not voting is because you don’t like being forced that’s cool but logically your vote is more meaningless by not being cast at all, than by the 4% chance it is countered by a donkey voter behind you. In fact, at the very least you would have cancelled the donkey vote out (if you look at it the other way), but this way, the donkey voter gets to choose.

      I dunno…I need to do a little more thinking on it, but I respect your choice either way 🙂

      Hmm with Abbott in charge….I don’t see that being the case (re: replacing religious ed). Although state schools don’t teach R.E anyway do they?

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