On Monday a convoy of trucks and supporters are travelling to Canberra to protest against the proposed ‘Carbon Tax’. Some of them are staying in my town overnight and will be travelling on the already awful Barton Highway early Monday morning, which is going to make things interesting for commuters who already loathe the drive (i.e. the vast majority). Some reports expect bumper to bumper traffic, Sydney style, and others are suggesting take the day off work if you can. I go into town in the other direction so no day off work for me.
But this protest got me thinking. Bluemilk had a blogpost about why some people in the US actively vote against their own interests based on a book by Joe Bageant who was basically writing about his own family. I don’t think we are there yet. I think, in general, Australians still expect a lot of their politicians, perhaps it comes with compulsory voting? Julia Gillard’s government isn’t popular for a number of reasons and as a lefty politically I am disappointed that the current Labor government hasn’t done what I think it should do. Which is of course completely different to what the next Labor voter thinks they should do etc etc. Which is fine. I’m not moved to protest against this government, although I do sign petitions relating to matters that interest me. But some, like the convoy on Monday, or the protest earlier this week live tweeted by Grogs Gamut, do protest this government. I won’t get into generalisations about gender/age/demographic splits, although many of them are probably Alan Jones listeners. But now having been awakened to the possibility of protest and making their voices heard, will they then go quiet if there is a change of government?
What if the Abbott/Turnbull/other Liberal? government doesn’t give them what they think they want? What happens when the Carbon Tax is ditched but electricity prices and the cost of living continue to rise? What happens when pension increases don’t cover the increased costs of medicines or accessing medical care? What happens when the next GFC comes along and there isn’t a handout from the government, or the handout goes to big companies? When the tax cuts don’t cover what they thought they would or don’t apply? Will they be moved to protest again?
Has the political landscape changed? Is it for the better? Or are we in danger of becoming a nation of whingers who don’t know how good some of us have it, while ignoring those who really do need a hand up? Is the genie out of the bottle, will we ever be content again and what will it take to get it back in?