If I still believed in God (and I am thinking of giving Him another chance) one of the things I would always be thanking Him for in my prayers would be His gift to Australia of compulsory voting.
You can see from the mystic way in which the necessary legislation skedaddled through federal parliament in 1924 (there was almost no debate) that some supernatural forces were at work. Perhaps it was God, vouchsafing a special blessing on the parliament (giving its members an Almighty nudge) and most of all a special blessing on the nation.
Compulsory voting has conferred umpteen boons of goodness, fairness, equity and instincts of responsible citizenship on our democracy. It is the envy of all thinking political thinkers in those unhappier democracies than ours, lands where a person's choice of voting or not voting is left to whims, biorhythms and the weather.
Writing this on Thursday I know that as I foxtrot to my local polling place on Saturday (a desire to break into a dance put in all thinking Australians' steps by the prospect of exorcising Scott Morrison from our lives) I will give thanks for the gift of compulsory voting.
My already strong appreciation of it has just been refreshed by a new online piece Compulsory Voting - the solution to our gerontocratic crisis? In it UK writer and broadcaster Charlie Peters writes admiringly of Australia's compulsory voting genius and pines and begs for the UK to imitate it. Now.
His particular beef is the UK's "gerontocratic crisis" which he thinks would be solved by compulsory voting since the young would be prodded, by law, into girding up their loins and going out to vote.
"The [governing] Conservative Party," he diagnoses, "has abandoned growth and aspiration - especially for younger Britons - in favour of economic stagnation and generous subsidies for older generations, facilitating our national decay.
"The 'how' is straightforward: [for example] limited housebuilding ... an increase in taxes and student loan repayment interest rates and a refusal of the political order to consider, even for a second, the advancement of young people. The 'why' is similarly simple: Britain is getting older, and those who lie on the far end of the ageing scale are more likely to vote. Not losing their rational self-interest in their older age, they also tend to vote for political parties that represent their interests."
"The opposition parties have noticed this too," he reports, and offers examples of how those parties by pandering to oldies have helped create the UK's "gerontocratic crisis".
Peters goes on to recommend wise and discerning Australia's system of compulsory voting as the solution to this crisis, and in passing says some flattering things about our exquisite little nation in general.
It feels nice to be flattered (especially when as Australians we are all a little gnawed by our international inferiority complex). But as well one is grateful when admiring outsiders point out to us elements of our national genius Australians ourselves tend to overlook.
So thank you, blessed federal parliament of 1924, and thank you Almighty God if it was thou that gaveth that parliament a divine nudge.
On Wednesday I was wandering lonely as an unpopular cloud (even lonely as a prime minister blamed for his party's defeat in a federal election) in a quite remote part (forests 55 and 56) of the National Arboretum.
Suddenly I became aware of two magnificent wedge-tailed eagles decorating the sky above me. The grand fowls were doing a little circling but for the most part were almost stationary, artfully pointing themselves into and leaning upon a strong breeze.
When one's mind is feverishly upon the election (as mine was) and when one has so grand a visitation it is hard not to think of that visitation as a sign of something, as an omen, a portent. Surely the eagles, these feathered psephologists, these airborne Antony Greens were saying something about the election's outcome and about what is to befall our nation?
But then, the eagles having come lower and lower until they were far closer to me, it occurred to me (horror!) that the streamlined carnivores might be checking out my edibility. In imitation of Anthony Albanese's dramatic feat of weight loss I am down to a featherweight 65 kilos and would be effortlessly easy for a burly and determined raptor to carry away.
But quickly coming back to my senses (for even on my solitary walks my refined intellect is my constant companions) I saw that both of these musings (the eagles as election prophets, myself as the object of the eagles' gastronomic longings) were brazen narcissisms.
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We dealt with this very thing in a recent impossible-to-forget column, admiring Richard Smyth's recent essay Nature does not care [about us]. He urges us to stop thinking of nature as our entertainer, our psychotherapist. We can't properly understand, appreciate and marvel at nature, he argues mild-manneredly, while we imagine it somehow exists for us.
Yes, at this for humans politically feverish time the better thought to think of a joyous stickybeak at some eagles is that their indifference to us is a beautiful thing.
This election which we delude ourselves is of blockbusting importance will not in the slightest affect how and why the eagles do their (mesmerising for us) soaring and gliding.
Humans and their froth and bubble elections are a recent and surely ephemeral presence and pageant here but palaeontologists say they, the eagles, have been going about their aerial business in Australian skies for 25 million years.
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