OPINION: "In the last election, I was a 'Quiet Australian'. I regret it."

In May, 2019, I voted for the LNP. I was one of the ‘Quiet Australians’ – going about my life. Busy as a working professional mum to two daughters. Busy supporting a friend who was just diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer. Busy managing household finances which were still recovering after the economic downturn in WA saw my partner unemployed for years. Busy as a GP in a suburban practice, where some of my patients were facing their very worst nightmares.

I was busy.

And I was tired.

I voted hastily.

I laughed along with friends and colleagues – ‘They’re all as bad as each other’. I looked at simplified comparisons and thought I was choosing the best option for my family. Vote LNP and the WA economy will perhaps start to recover. My partner will keep his job and I won’t have to work as hard as I am. We won’t have to sell our house.

All of our hard work won’t go up in flames.

Yes, I’m aware of the irony of the last statement.

I usually make a very informed vote. I’m one of those people who love voting day. It is a privilege to be able to vote.

Women sacrificed, so that I can now vote. I get excited for the day itself. I love chatting to the placard holding representatives as we walk into our local primary school. I get a sausage at the sausage sizzle. I usually spend a lot of time reading policies, talking to friends and family members who can help if I don’t understand more complex policies.

This year, I simply didn’t have time. I voted hastily.

I made the wrong decision.

I blamed my lack of time for a while. But the truth is – I voted thoughtlessly, and selfishly in haste for what was to benefit my own family. ‘What would make my life easier?’

Listen: Mamamia Out Loud discuss the Australian bushfire crisis. Post continues below. 

After the election, I almost immediately regretted my decision. An online forum of other ‘Medical Mums’ quickly expressed its revolt at the unexpected outcome of the election. Policies were discussed at length. I realised, with dawning horror, that I (and I suspect many, many others) had completely misinterpreted many of the ALP’s policies. The media blitz prior to the election by the coalition had made them into something they were not. I was duped.
I do not like being duped.

I did not grow up privileged. I was born to a 17-year-old mother and lived in State Housing for many years. I was supported by my loving family and fought hard through public education to finally realise my dream of becoming a doctor. I voted ALP for many years until I fell into the trap of believing ‘I worked hard for this! I deserve to keep as much of this as I can!’

I also consider myself a bit of an ‘urban greenie’. I grow my own veges. I’ve had chooks. I’m passionate about reducing and recycling waste. So not voting in the interests of our climate and our planet is unusual. I let my own self-interest become paramount. I’m not alone in this. This is how most people vote.

I used to consider it a privilege to be able to vote for a party which meant that you had less money in your pocket, but which ultimately placed a higher emphasis on care for our planet. I no longer consider it a privilege. It’s a necessity.

We all need to give up on the notion that our individual lives matter the most. Once we have children, we become less selfish. This needs to extend to our children’s children, their children. Our vision needs to extend forward. Beyond this year, or the next decade. A saying of unknown origin states that: “A society grows great when its aged citizens plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit”.

australia bushfire facts
Since September 2019, Australia has faced an unprecedented bushfire crisis. Image: Twitter.

Watching the devastation being wreaked in the last month on mainly the other side of my country, I feel a deep sense of remorse. Of course, voting for the ALP would not have prevented these fires, but the lack of leadership shown by the leader of the Liberals has astounded me. I never really believed in ScoMo, so I can’t say he let me down. But his action (and inaction) in the last few weeks have highlighted to me exactly what I foolishly voted for – an inept government who has completely lost touch with even the ‘Quiet Australians’. Who stubbornly refuse to admit these unprecedented fires could have anything to do with our impact on the environment. It is so arrogant.

The blind, ignorant arrogance of privately educated upper middle-class men, who believe in themselves (and have been taught to believe its their right to be leaders, their right to govern) so wholeheartedly and unashamedly that they have deafened themselves to the voices of our nation.

We will not stand for this.

To those who have lost their homes, their family members, their livelihoods. I am deeply, deeply sorry.

I would love to step back in time and cast my vote again, but of course I can’t.

However, another election will come. This time I will not be so careless.

Listen to your fellow Australians, ScoMo. LISTEN.

Then act.

Because the ‘Quiet Australians’ are waking up and about to make some serious noise.

The feature image used for this article is a stock photo from Getty Images. 

Read Mamamia's comprehensive guide to how you can help in the wake of Australia's bushfires.

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