All around the world people come out in the hundreds of thousands to protest against their government when it steps out of line or goes against promises they made in elections. All around the world it seems, except in Australia.
As the Greek government readies to make further cuts to the pension system, thousands of ordinary Greek people are stepping up to protest against the proposal. Farmers, nurses and sailors all vowed to fight the government on the cuts and demand their voices be heard and their pensions be delivered.
Meanwhile, in America, millions of people marched upon Capitol Hill when President Obama introduced a new health care system, ensuring that politicians knew how angry they were about the proposal.
Over the past few years we in Australia have seen multiple governments wade through political turmoil, as one leader ousted another over and over again, and as controversial tax laws were introduced and then banished to the political wasteland after being branded a colossal failure. We have had political scandals involving prostitutes and gross misconduct of travel allowances and abuses of tax payer’s money. All the while though, we have never taken to the street to protest against any of it.
So what happened to idea of protesting in Australia? The last time we really took part in a large-scale demonstration was when we marched to protest the Vietnam War. Across Australia, over 200,000 people protested against the war in 1970 and we took to the streets to vent our frustration. These days though, it seems we are more likely to sit at home shaking our heads about the latest political scandal than to actually go out and let them know how we feel about it.
Some people have wondered if it is a generational matter whereby Generations X and Y simply aren’t interested in hitting the streets in protest like the youth of the 1970s did, or is it just not part of Australian culture?
Why is it that Greek pensioners will march upon their parliament to demand a better deal on their pensions, but we don’t? Some have suggested that Australian politicians wouldn’t get away with half the stuff they do if they knew the Australian people would hold them accountable for it. So is it time for us to start protesting more and letting politicians get away with less?