I’ve never voted Liberal. Not once, not it the senate, house nor State or Federal. I’ve never been sold by their leadership or policies, but also I’ve never been ready to make that leap.
In many of my circles, it’s quite the faux pa actually. See. I’m from Melbourne, the city with the only sitting Greens MP in the country. I’m also a musician with many artist friends, bohemian types who all walk a very defined path. Voting green and red with reliable, predictability year after year.
But for a brief moment back in 2019, I was determined to cast my vote for the Liberal Party of Australia with gusto. That moment came after the Labor party blocked a parliamentary inquiry into the Family Courts. The inquiry, spearheaded by Pauline Hanson was instantly met with scorn from the Labor and Greens. Their disdain was palpable, the conservatives were after all straying into their territory, dangerously close to the issues of family violence and women’s rights.
The deal was ultimately blocked by Labor and Hanson mocked and derided in the media with the fervour and bile usually reserved for the likes of Hanson and those who dare to look at the world through a different lens.
For me, this issue was deeply relevant. My experience with the Family Courts of Australia back in 2012 left me with a lasting impression that deep structural problems lay unresolved in the system, and that if anything, they deserved discussion.
As a divorced father, I knew very well that structural gender bias was built into the fabric of the courts. Some of it made sense, some not so much but I knew that there was deep suffering emanating from the halls of the family courts, some of it needlessly so.
So that was it for me. Labor’s final betrayal of a working-class man. I was moved by the betrayal to make a statement, to vote with my feet, and to take the leap to vote blue for the first time in my lie.
I felt so compelled that I personally emailed Anthony Albanese to tell him that under his stewardship I was now defecting, voting Liberal for the first time in my life. I was convinced that my emphatic declaration would scare the wits into him and the Labor party as a whole. My earnest declaration would surely set in motion some very serious introspection and discussion over at Labor HQ. Delusional perhaps but it felt right and made sense at the time.
But this moment of determination, this principled stance, the will to take a stand, well it wouldn’t last, as an even graver betrayal was about to be made by the Federal Liberal Party.
Cue January 2020 and the COVID19 pandemic, the months of lockdowns, masks, social distancing, and health regime edicts, the most authoritarian of which would be the vaccine mandates ushered in by Daniel Andrews in September 2021.
Authoritarian policies were slowly being introduced during a lockdown, becoming enforceable at a time when civil protest was deemed illegal, and the punishment for such activities attracting major penalties. It was strategically masterminded and would be rolled out across industries one by one as to not unify people against the government. All backed up with rubber bullets, which were fired on citizens that fateful day in September on the streets of Melbourne and at the Shrine of remembrance of all places.
With mostly impotent gasps from the media, and only News Corp prepared to question the tactics of firing on their own citizens, the public was in disbelief. Surely there was no precedent for making employment conditional on the administration of a medical procedure. But here we were being dictated to by a politician hiding behind an unaccountable bureaucrat and enforced by a ruthless and brutal police force. And where was our national leadership? Where were the leaders of the LIBERAL party? The party that has traditionally championed the values of freedom and personal responsibility.
Well, they were nowhere to be found. Most likely adhering to the strategic mantra of never interrupting your enemies when they are making a mistake. Not a bad plan for ‘business as usual’ politics but this was no usual politics.
Scott Morrison and the Federal Liberals were ultimately silent amidst an unprecedented crackdown on human liberties in their second most populist state of Victoria. They stood by as the values and principals that defined our nation and our culture were discarded by a burgeoning class of COVID bureaucrats determined to protect us from ourselves, our smiles, our hugs and our humanity.
What could they have done? Well, that’s a question for a constitutional scholar. It’s of little consequence really. Ultimately they failed to do the bare minimum. They failed to speak out for Liberty, personal choice, freedom and responsibility.
And they lost my vote before I ever gave it to them.
Drew Roller is a Filmmaker, Musician and stay at home dad. He enjoys films about sword swinging immortals, 90s games about British spies and long conversations online that push at the boundaries of polite conversation.