How to beat the Liberals and the Loonies.

The Liberal National Party could be removed from government at the next federal election if all Australians were required to be double vaccinated in order to enter a polling booth.

Currently this is not the case. At the recent local government elections, voters were allowed to enter polling booths without showing proof of vaccination. If voters were required to show proof of vaccination, or proof of legitimate exemption, this would prohibit many people from voting and cost the Liberal National Party (LNP) many votes.

Do loonies vote Liberal?

Not necessarily. But anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown protestors are more likely to vote for the loonie parties upon which the LNP relies. The Coalition accepts preferences from many of the fringe parties and rely on these preferences in order to win elections at state and federal level.

Political analysts tell us that the Coalition won the unwinnable federal election in 2019 thanks largely to the preferences from Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) in Queensland. Palmer is one of the loonies challenging pandemic laws and has recruited Craig Kelly from the Coalition. Kelly is a famous opponent of vaccines, vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related rules, and is the most high profile candidate in the UAP. Ironically, if Kelly attracts many votes, he could help his former party to win the election.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has also sided with those opposing pandemic laws and some of her candidates direct their preferences to the LNP. Consequently, Scott Morrison has failed to publicly and unequivocally condemn anti-lockdown and anti-vaxxer protests because his operatives know that his party needs their vote.

At the recent local government elections, one voter was overheard commenting,

“You can’t get into a cafe without proof of vaccination, but you can get into a polling booth.”

Why is this?

If an unvaccinated person can spread COVID-19 in a cafe, surely they can spread COVID-19 in a polling booth. This presents a significant medical risk in a country in which voting is compulsory. Some voters could be immunocompromised and thus face the risk of contracting COVID-19, or being issued with a fine if they don’t vote.

They can vote online.

Yes, the loonies could vote online. Australians can register for ivote and the anti-vaxxers could still vote for the fringe parties via online voting. This, however, requires voters to take the initiative and complete this process well in advance of the upcoming election. If the loonies don’t vote at all, without a legitimate exemption, they would be issued with a fine in accordance with Australian law. Perhaps the threat of a significant fine would convince some people to get jabbed.

Is it lawful?

I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer or an expert in constitutional law. However, news from around the world suggest that other countries have prohibited unvaccinated people from entering certain places or enjoying certain rights that are available to vaccinated people. Thus, it should be possible to act according to the same principles in Australia. If loonies can vote online, they are not technically being denied the right to vote in a democratic country.

A dangerous precedent?

Have the local government elections established a dangerous precedent? When people find out that unvaccinated people were allowed into polling booths, will they demand access to other indoor spaces which currently require proof of vaccination? Many business owners publicly stated their intention to reject the ruling and to allow everyone to enter their premises whether vaccinated or not. If these owners cited the polling booth example, surely they would have a case…

Therefore, if people make a conscious choice not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, should they be prevented from entering a polling booth? And, if so, would this harm the LNP which relies heavily on the preferences of the fringe parties which are likely to attract the anti-vaxxer vote?

Will it happen?

Probably not. The people who would make this law are the very people who rely on the loonie vote for their political survival.

We could change the law, or we could allow double vaccinated people to vote twice.

Image: Darren England

This Land…

Darkness enveloped the land.

A depressing grey pall hung heavily over the land and fomented despicable violence which entrenched anger, frustration, despair and fear in those victimised by birth. Toxic masculinity leeched from the pores of rabid salivating animals and sullied the pristine waterways, the same waterways which had offered solace and retreat in an imagined past; the white-capped waves and golden sands since converted into a haven for leering eyes and lecherous ghouls.

Fear racked the fairer sex. Survival strategies were devised and disseminated, carried in nervous whispers through the darkened streets and the darker web. Clothes, make-up and sobriety were scrutinised before safety was promised in the world outside – the land outside which they called home. Home, where violence had been domesticated, by those who had not.

Keys to unlock inherited power were now held between forefingers. Capsicum spray sat beside scented spray and self-care acquiesced to self-defence. Avoid the darkness, they were told, but darkness was everywhere. Darkness had swallowed the land and voraciously consumed all that was good.

Emboldened by self-appointed truth tellers and by the weakness of their rulers, they threatened and struck, abused and demeaned, dismissed and suppressed. Emboldened by the apathy, silence and spin of the law makers. Law makers or law breakers? The lines had blurred, the distinction lost.

Depravity extended its greedy tentacles from the distant corridors of power to the hallowed grounds of prestige, where the elite schooled their offspring in the perpetuation of power.

How good! they cheer,

How good! to leer.

Retain your grace, remain the same,

Make-up your face, your words be tame.

Enough is enough, the victims declared, but it was never enough. Never enough for the rapacious scourge which infested their world and controlled their bodies, and the bodies within bodies.

The fair were few and far between, ignored in print, ignored on screen. They and their allies drowned under a deluge of ignorance and noise as the heavens unleashed a torrent of hate and lies, and cowardly cries.  It comes from the sky, it comes from up high, the news we use to justify.

Dystopia was not an imagined future, dystopia was a lived present, dictated for eternity by one bite of a forbidden fruit.

Then he emerged.

Short in stature, but bold of heart.

Follow me, he declared, in messianic tones, and I will deliver you from darkness and into light. I will protect you, he promised. So, follow him they did and the light returned. Joy, gaiety and unimagined bliss filled their souls.

Pink roses blossomed. Pink roses bloomed with hope and the promise of a new future.

All was well in the land of pink roses.

Image: Carlos Quintero

First published in The Beast magazine, May 2021