In a country like Australia where we believe in relative freedom, artists are seen as cultural figures, offering humorous asides and here and there as a means to challenge the comfortable lives of the citizens.
We certainly don’t expect them to be thrown into jail for a provocative meme or a cutting remark about politicians and religious figures. Perhaps if they did get thrown into jail a little more regularly then we’d sit up and listen a little more closely to what is going on in the world around us.
Not having been jailed, local comedian Mark Swivel has had to take another, more radical route to get our attention. That’s right, he’s planning to become a politician!
Of course anyone who’s seen Mr Swivel’s show will know he has been practising for some time for the position of Alternative Prime Minister but now he swears he is ‘deadly serious’ and is determined to make a ‘sincere attempt to get elected’.
But rather than run for the top job – no one seems to last that long it in anyway – he’s going to make a pitch for the federal senate as a representative for NSW.
‘The campaign evolved from punters saying [about his show] “Hey, that was funny but you should give it a crackl”. So I sat down and wrote a book. A manifesto. And I thought: “yeah, alright then, I will”.’ And you never know, considering the delightful Fraser Anning only needed 19 primary votes in Queensland to get in, perhaps Mark is in with a chance…
So what inspired him to run, you ask. I mean it is a damn sight more fun being a comedian…
‘Politics is a toxic soap opera,’ said Mark.
‘We the people need to get involved. Our major parties are not interested in change.
Right-wing nut jobs
‘Our populists are right-wing nut jobs. We need people like you and me, especially on the crossbench in the Senate where you can make a difference.
‘I have a strong belief that we need to rebuild our Common Wealth, the public assets and services that we all share. We are in the process of privatising and outsourcing our Common Wealth into oblivion.’
And while Mark has faith in the ‘Austrayan’ people. he’s not asking for us to be ‘great’; he’s only calling for us to be ‘Slightly Better Than Average’.
‘I make no apology for this modest goal,’ said Mark.
‘I am talking, in a way, about restoring – or making anew – many of the features of the Austraya of my childhood. I am not looking for a return of The White Austraya Policy, sacking women when they became pregnant, or terra nullius and the death penalty.
‘I am talking about a country with a future. An Austraya that had an image of itself as friendly and productive, welcoming and hard-working. A country that made cars and films. That punched above its weight.
Will you run?
‘An Austraya with free milk at recess. A country with free university education and a bipartisan commitment to home ownership and social housing.’
In fact Mark is encouraging everyone to have a think about running, especially young people.
‘Younger people should run as independents and bring their demographic into politics. Most kids are tuned out. Anyone who is prepared to think and talk differently about politics should run.
‘I think we could see a bit of a revolution in Australian politics over the next few years.
‘We need to create a future. We need real policies that create sustainable wealth for everyone, not just the few.
‘We need to restore government to its active role in our communities. We need to arrest the running tide of politics that sees the market running everything.
‘Australia is now run by and for The Wealthier People at the expense of The Not So Wealthy. Tax is not theft but how we create a fairer society.
‘We need the right kind of populists in parliament. People from outside the political class who can fix politics; people with broad knowledge of politics and experience in business and the community. People like you and me.’