Mark Owen

The greening of a conservative

I have just found a compelling reason to vote for the Greens.

Catholic bishops in Australia have released a document warning their adherents not to vote for the Greens because of their policies in the areas of human rights and social issues.  Sounds like as good a reason as any to vote for them.

I grew up in the shadow of one politician, and a very long shadow it was. From my late teens through to my mid-thirties R.G. Menzies dominated Australia's political scene. Founder of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Menzies was a remarkable figure, and an impressive one to someone who had not clearly thought out his political views.

My family was typical of many, although not all, of course. It was working class although inclined to think of itself as being a bit above that label, but my parents always voted for the conservative side of politics.  It was natural - if not displaying great intelligence on my part - for me to do likewise.

In those far-off days I was a Christian too. My social views were strongly conservative as a result. But the years passed and so did my faith - clean away. And my interest in politics was never very great. I always objected to the assault on my freedom that comes from being compelled to enrol to vote. Eventually I stopped voting altogether. Yes, I could be subject to a fine but somehow managed to dodge the very inefficient bureaucrats who had nothing better to do with their time than chase up conscientious objectors.

But a turning-point came - when that arch-conservative John Howard, in an outrageous assault on democracy, directed his henchmen, led by a Catholic minister, to shut down the humane voluntary euthanasia law passed by the Northern Territory. I said then that even if I did vote I would never vote for the conservatives again.

Alas, the Labor party is almost as conservative. It dithers over such needed reform as allowing gays to marry, not to mention voluntary euthanasia, my pet hobbyhorse (as I am approaching the end of my life). It equivocates in some states over a women's right to choose abortion, and other social issues. Both major parties support the ridiculous censorship regime which bans R-rated movies from Pay-TV (even although there is a parental lock).

It is a great disappointment to find our female prime minister (and I greatly welcome a female in such a role) who has admitted to being an atheist expressing conservative views on issues such as gay marriage.

So, finally, I am getting around to enrolling and voting. I don't agree with everything the Greens stand for but they are the closest thing I can find to true progressives. I will in future vote for Green and/or Sex Party candidates as the situation dictates.

Mark Owen, 2010 -

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