Without Tony Abbott’s costings, I voted in a blindfold

I cast my ballot without really knowing what the Coalition intends to do, writes an anonymous postal voter

If, like this postal voter, you’ve already voted, you’ll have had to do so without knowing whether or not the Coalition’s figures stack up. But actually no voters will truly get that chance.

There’s a feeling of satisfaction in ticking those boxes on a ballot form. For a moment, once every three years, the voter holds power in their hands. In that fraction of time they have as much influence as Gina Rinehart – and more than Rupert Murdoch, if you think about it.

Fleetingly, a few days ago, I felt that satisfaction when I lodged my postal vote.

I voted knowing that pretty much all of Labor and the Greens’ policies had been costed and put out for the electorate to see. Not that I looked at the fine print. I doubt anyone really reads all the documentation bar a handful of political bloggers, some university policy wonks, and Greg Jericho.
But I know the key details of what the Greens and Labor offer on health, education, the environment, economic policy, social policy and the budget.

That’s what I wanted from the Coalition, too: the dot points of governance. I wanted to know the bottom line, and what would be cut and what would be spared in order to get there. I wanted to know how my town, back home, would fare under the Coalition. I wanted to know if fairness had been incorporated into their economic abacus.

As a postal voter I didn’t know any of this. I ticked the boxes not knowing what our (likely) next government would do. That sucks, but the point is bigger than that.

The point is that nobody voting in Saturday’s election will get the answers to these questions. It’s not just postal voters going in blind, it’s the entire voting population of Australia.

You’re going in blind because when the Coalition’s costings are released on Thursday or Friday or Saturday morning that is precisely what you’ll get: the Coalition’s costings. You’ll have Labor yelling about them, to be sure, telling you what they really mean, but what you’ll lack is an independent arbiter.

I know you’re going in blind because we have the perfect case study: the 2010 election. The only way the Australian people found out the true state of the books was because we ended up with a hung parliament, and Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott doggedly insisted on having the Coalition’s policies pass the ultimate fact-checker – the Department of Treasury. Thus, their $11.5bn discrepancy (a number the Coalition has continued to dispute) was revealed 12 days after election day.

I’m not sure how mandates work when you don’t tell anyone what you actually intend to do – but my moment of power has passed. And yours will too.

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