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Australia votes Saturday: My reflections

30 June 2016 at 01:13 | 1032 views

Commentary

By Andrew Sankoh, Sydney, Australia.

One of the longest election campaigns will come to an end on the 2nd of July 2016. Since the 94 days election campaign of the Robert Menzies government in 1954 and the 54 days of the Bob Hawke government in 1991, Malcolm Turnbull’s government has the second longest campaign period-73 days.

Sierra Leone votes in 2018 or even later but the political atmosphere is already causing increasing tension resulting into violence and loss of life. Why is it that our election campaigns in Sierra Leone take so long? What are the effects of such long campaign periods on our society?

Both the major political parties in Australia, Liberal and Labour have advanced their policies to the citizens on which basis people will vote for the party which, in their estimation, has the best policy platform that will push forward Australia and its people in an economic environment that challenges the welfare of its people.

The government, the opposition and the people are aware of the fact that the process through which these challenges can be overcome is difficult and requires the commitment and support of every citizen. My assessment so far shows that people value their votes as the first process of meeting these challenges. People need to be convinced that the party’s policies, the candidate and the track record of the party clearly demonstrate the ability to combat the challenges ahead.

In the past two months, both parties addressed various organisations such as the National Press Club of Australia, noted as one of the highest platforms or forums for the discussion of political, economic and many other issues of national interest. An agent of social change within the Australian society.

Governing Sierra Leone in the next decade is not going to be easy. The society is becoming well-informed through the media and improvement in technology.

The next campaign period in our country must focus on issues and how a party has developed the right policies that will meet the growing challenges of a modern technologically savvy citizenry. The time for dancing for politicians MUST be over. It is time to be sober, reflective and ask one basic question: How can this party help change my life and my children’s lives in the immediate future?

Other questions are how can the party help showcase Sierra Leone in the world as a country whose resources are used to benefit the majority of citizens? How can the party demonstrate or showcase a new generation of politicians whose interest is to lay the foundation for a new political culture in Sierra Leone? Which party has a team of committed Sierra Leoneans rather than just a person to lead Sierra Leone to the new political dispensation? What is the age distribution, gender and regional balance of the party that will ensure a broad representation of issues in its policies?

These and many other questions will confront us in 2018. Young people must be aware of the challenges they will face in 2018. Therefore, young people must now learn to ask the WHY question. Why must I vote for any party? What does the future hold for me by voting for this party? What is the future of Sierra Leone with this party?

As I go to the polls here in Australia on Saturday morning, I reflect on Australia as a country and how my migrant experiences have been shaped by both parties over the past 15 years.

However, Sierra Leone is unavoidably contextualised within that reflection. I did not have to migrate to change my life’s chances. I come from one of the richest countries on earth in terms of resources and the number of people living within that space. A country that has the potential to offer opportunities and possibilities for every one living within its boundaries. A country that will bring back home all its talents overseas and give them the task of changing our society for future generations.

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