New Zealanders Don't Give a Fuck About the Australian Election

It's 24 hours until Australians head to the polls, but you wouldn't know that in New Zealand. We asked some people why.

by Beatrice Hazlehurst
01 July 2016, 12:00am

Turnbull Vs Shorten. Illustration by Ben Thomson

It's 24 hours until the 2016 Australian election. Even so, you'd be hard pressed to find New Zealanders who know, or care, about anything related to Australian politics.

Even with climate change, same-sex marriage, and something called negative gearing all up in the air, pretty much all Kiwis know is that we might take in some of Australia's horribly-treated asylum seekers, and that Brexit went ahead. And yes, obviously that last bit has nothing to do with Australia.

But that's just my personal experience. I decided to go ask some others how much they know, and why they think the Australian election been so rigorously ignored by the NZ media.

Ashleigh, 28

VICE: Hey Ashleigh, what do you know about the Australian election?
Ashleigh: In all honesty, pretty much nothing.

How would you describe our relationship with Australia?
I mean I've lived in both countries and something I noticed was how different it was for Kiwis over there, rather than Australians here. Kiwis don't get anywhere near the same benefits.

If you had to explain the Australian culture to someone who'd had no contact with Aussies, what would you say?
It's similar, but I would definitely say it's more closed-minded. They don't get the same news coverage we do. I lived in Perth and the media that was accessible only talked about what was going on in the states. Yeah, to be honest I think we're more educated. They're backwards. Like old taboos are still really prominent.

Which taboos are you referring to?
Well racism is huge over there. It's so sad. Aborigines are not looked at as human. They don't particularly like us Kiwis over there either, not anymore.

Sophia*, 21

Can you tell me the extent of your knowledge of the Australian election?
Oh man, there's going to be a big photo of me saying: "knows fuck all about the election."

So you know fuck all?
In all honesty, yeah I don't know a lot. I don't know who's running. I've been following the American election pretty closely, but it's way more publicised. I don't think New Zealand media has jumped on it at all.

Is that we just don't care?
To be honest I think the world is just sick of Australians. Like the Christmas Island thing for example–like uprooting someone that's paid tax for 30 years, then imprisoning and punishing them for something that happened decades ago. They kind of headed it under "cleansing the country," which is just brutal. It's unnerving, and it came across as really inhumane.

How then do you think New Zealanders and Australians compare?
I think New Zealanders are way more open-minded. If I'm making a generalisation, I think Australians have this real entitlement and stubbornness across the board, you know, which includes only publicly apologising to the Aborigines a few of years ago. Our relationship with Maori, the indigenous people of our country, is so different.

There are a several things in the Australian legal system that seems pretty regressive, abortion on request is illegal in more than half of the country, gay marriage is illegal everywhere. Does that shock you?
See I didn't even know that and that goes exactly with the grain. Refugees, civil rights, it's like anything that's not white middle-class has to be prosecuted. I know a lot of Australians don't think like that, but I do think the culture itself is not very accepting.

Max, 22

Max, do you know anything at all about the Australian election?
I know a little bit, I mean I know who's running. I don't really know policy, but wasn't there something about potentially dissolving the government?

Dissolving the government?
Yeah I haven't paid that much attention to it.

Why not?
I used to, but I think they're kind of backwards. Their government is weird, like inherently racist. What they've done, what they continue to do, there's been some weird calls man.

Someone I interviewed just said she's recognised a real entitlement in Australians, how would you speak to that?
I don't think they're as chill. Maybe they'd perceive themselves differently, I don't know. I think they seem to be a little bit more intolerant. Anything that isn't mainstream or doesn't fit in with the system, you know?

Savannah, 21

Hey Savannah, what have you heard the Australian election?
All I really know is that it's this Saturday and there are two major parties, but yeah I don't even know the name of the Labour leader.

Why do you think New Zealanders know so little about it?
It's not in my face you know, like Brexit and the American election. It's covered everywhere and you kind of have no choice but to talk about it.

Do you think New Zealand media subverts Australian coverage?
Yeah, but I'm not sure why.

Could it be indicative of our perceived relationship with Australia? Could Kiwi media assume no one cares?
It could be, and it doesn't have that much effect on us I guess and it's not shocking.

But it kind of is, detained refugees outside Australia are literally setting themselves alight in protest. That's shocking.
You're right. It's funny because I did know that, but still I felt there was a lack of news coverage here.

How would do you think New Zealanders and Australians differ?
I think we have have a lot similarities in our characteristics and value systems, but I think we're very different. There's a generalisation that they're more racist, but when I think of Australians I generally felt like they are louder and way more self assured. Intolerant, and intolerable.

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*Sophia is not her real name.

election 2016