I've been on the road to Rio for just on a month now and I've had an incredible trip already. I've seen one of the Seven Wonders of the World, I've met some of the friendliest people in the world, and I've also found the spiritual homeland of my feet.
Sometimes though, you need to take a break from being a traveller, and get some stuff done. Last week in New Delhi was just such an occasion.
Anyone outside of Australia is probably blissfully unaware that we have a federal election coming up this Saturday, while I'm sure those back home are drowning in it. While in New Delhi I discovered that early postal voting was available to expats and travellers in India at the Australian High Commission. Having missed every national (and state) election since I started travelling in 2005, I decided it was finally time to start having my say again, so I took a few hours out to head down to the High Commission and place my vote.
The thing was, on the walk down I was still unsure as to who I was going to vote for. The two major parties have some pretty deep flaws, while the myriad of small special interest parties didn't excite me in the least.
Indira Gandhi with former Australian PM Gough Whitlam
On the way to the High Commission I came across the memorial and museum dedicated to Indira Gandhi, one of India's most influential political figures of the 20th century. She was Prime Minsiter on several occasions and helped shape India to being the country it is now. She was also somewhat divisive on many issues and was ultimately assassinated before finishing her final term in office in 1984. Her son, Rajiv, followed her as Prime Minister, and unfortunately, suffered the same fate as his mother in 1991.
Listening to some of the rhetoric and campaigning going on back home, you'd think that Australian politics was as heavily divided as it can be in here in India. Depending on who you listen to if 'wrong' party gets up on September 7th, the country is doomed. I don’t buy that.
Australian High Commission in Delhi
The major parties in Australia, like the overwhelming majority of the population are very close to the centre of the political chart. Both parties will act the same way on the majority of issues and neither side will see the country turn into a basket case. Yes, both parties have their faults – not least of which the leader of each – but show me a political party that doesn't.
One thing that is sure to spice up the election is one Mr Julian Assange and his new “Wikileaks” party appearing on the Senate ballot. If he manages to get himself elected it will surely make Australian politics a little more interesting at least.
So I turned up to the High Commission and place my vote. I even voted below the line in the Senate, filling out all 97 preferences to make sure the likes of Family First, the Christian Party and One Nation get nothing from my vote.
So to my Australian friends: Go vote Saturday. Vote whatever way you feel but just keep in mind, whomever our government is when we all wake up on Sunday, Australia will continue to be a great place to live. I'm not saying our vote is not important, just that we're lucky enough to live in a country where people aren't killing each other over disagreements in policy.
We are very lucky in Australia and not even Krudd or the Budgie Smuggler can change that.
I promise I'll get back to some more travel related content next week! This isn't a political blog, I just thought I'd share my thoughts.