Covering Wollongong and Shellharbour council elections on the weekend, two things stood out (aside from the results, of course).
One – people care a lot about council issues. They want roads and footpaths fixed post-haste, streets cleaned up and rates and tip fees put down.
They also – misguidedly – want councillors to fix up the state rail system and the hospitals and schools, and just generally intervene in all facets of life to make things better, cheaper and easier.
Paradoxically, the second thing that stood out was that lots of people really DON’T care – or can’t be bothered – having a say about their representatives.
So many of our online commenters said they didn’t know there was an election on, didn’t know who was running, didn’t know what they were voting for or what ward they were in, or even that there were wards at all.
Now, I understand that it’s a bit confusing with all this talk of the postal survey.
But the Australian system of government – with three levels: federal, state and local – has been the same for a long time.
And, in this age where Google and social media have added to coverage by newspapers, radio and TV, there’s never been more information about voting.
Here’s a tip.
If you know your name and address, you can find out with a click of a button your federal and state electorate, council area and council ward.
Print them out, if you think that’s easier, and then maybe bother to find out the names of your current representatives at each level.
If you like living in Australia, and are willing to spend life admin time on tax returns, bills or Facebook logins, the least you can do is put some time aside to become an informed voter.
That way, when you’re having a whinge about roads, footpaths, rates, the rail system, hospitals or schools, you can at least feel entitled to your opinion.