Editorial: I think it’s time we talk about our vote!

The Australian parliament can't sustain this political cycle of disruption and expect continued support from voters, nor their trust in the system that elects our leaders.

Since the Howard Government ended in 2007, Australia has not seen a prime minister complete a full term in office.

What this means for me, a 30-something, is that in my entire adult life, only one prime minister has completed a full term. In fact, no one of voting age born after 1989 has seen an Australian prime minister complete a full term!

The previous decade is being described as the breaking of Australian politics, with six prime ministers in 10 years. Rudd, Gillard, Rudd, Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison. Our country is variously mocked and derided in international media.

Now the question I put forward is: does my vote even count? Because, with each leadership spill, one of my carefully selected votes is shunned by the government, and my confidence in the voting system is diminished.

I was living in Port Stewart in Northern Ireland during Brexit. The disbelief of the community after the ‘leave’ result was revealed was astounding. Even more astounding, as people took to their workplaces, the streets and the pubs to vent about the result, was the sheer number of people who hadn’t bothered to vote. 

The Brexit vote was not compulsory, and it is now popular opinion that non-voters could have swayed the result. I also marvel at the Trump administration and the outcry of the public. But if only you had voted, I think to myself.

As an Australian overseas, and at home, I once had pride in our electoral system and government. But this is waning, as the international community looks on our government and the wars within it, and the spills played out in the national media.

It is the political era of the revolving door. Every change of leader causes disruption, in our businesses, our homes, our schools. It lacks loyalty. It loses trust. The one constant in this is the growing disconnect between young voters and the Australian electoral system, a growing disdain for the government, and a lack of confidence in the system as we watch our leaders and the rifts that grow between them.

But with our new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, the chaos of the previous week will soon dissipate. The new Cabinet will have its turn in the ring. Make it count.