Aussie election today - how we do it


Active Member
We've got our NSW state election today. The campaign has been dull, to say the least. The two candidates are Morris Iemma (aka 'Morris Dilemma') and Peter Debnam (unprintable nickname but it begins with D and implies he has circumcision scars on his neck).

Iemma is the current Premier. Both parties have campaigned on the lines of "Don't vote for the other bloke". There has been very little along the lines of "Here's what we will do for you if we get elected". I heard one of peter Debnam's interviews - he spent five minutes saying, "Do you want to reward Labor for 17 years of mismanagement" (said it six times) and "I want everyone to remember that the election is on March 24," (said 7 times). He let slip all other opportunities to say what he would actually DO if he won.

Peter Debnam is Liberal, the same party as our current Prime Minister and his government. This is making it very hard for him because right now, our Prime Minister is about as popular as a pork chop in a synagogue. OK, a lot less popular than that. George W Bush is Mr Popularity compared to our PM. This means that a lot of people will be voting against poor Mr Debnam purely to send a clear message to our Prime Minister.

We have a Federal election coming up towards the end of this year (date not yet set). He does this - as Prime Minister John Howard gets to choose the date. Almost without fail he sets the date as far in the future as he can get away with legally. He's trying to break records. He was looking likely to lose his next election and was actually in Washington on 9/11, with an appointment to address the Senate which would have made him look important and NOTICED by the US (and maybe win votes back in Australia). The disaster that followed was unthinkable, but he thought fast - within hours he was on TV publicly pledging support to whatever George W chose to do about the disaster, and then announcing our upcoming election date. It is well known in politics that in times of crisis and war, governments are very hard to oust. The electorate doesn't like political change in unstable times. Not that I begrudge Australia's support of the US - it was the obvious (to me) political expediency of it all from Howard that upset me. He seemed to latch on to the prospect of war with a frightening abandon motivated vastly by personal political gain. He then used National Security to control media information on a number of issues which would have seen his government ousted, if only people had known the truth at the time. It was horrible, it was appalling that so much suffering could have been used to one man's political advantage. And, of course, he won that election. National Security had muzzled his impotent opponent.
Our PMs aren't limited by a maximum number of terms, they stay in as long as they can persuade the electorate to vote them in. And until recently, we've not had much alternatives offered by the Opposition.
Now we do. But it's early days and John Howard is a wily campaigner. Whether his current opponent has what it takes to survive the nastiness that fills our news every day, only time will tell. But in my opinion, if he DOES survive politically, he's earned the right to do the job.

But in the meantime - any State Liberal party trying to win State office is fighting an uphill battle. We have 6 states and two territories, and ALL have Labor governments. And this doesn't look like changing any time soon despite vast mismanagement by our current (Labor) NSW government.

Our media do much the same as yours - they film the two rivals (and others) at the polling booth, voting. To vote - we wait in line at a desk and when we're at the front of the queue we get our names crossed off a huge list. We're actually voting for our local MP (Member of Parliament), not the party leader, but each MP has to win his seat in parliament. Our current MP is going to be hard to beat - he is also captain of our local fire brigade, as a volunteer. A lot of people feel good about having as MP the same bloke who will put his life on the line to save your house and the town in the event of a bushfire.

husband just told me he saw the media coverage of Peter Debnam and his wife voting. Where Morris Iemma got his name crossed off on sight, Peter Debnam actually had to SPELL HIS NAME to the bloke marking him and his wife off the register. How embarrassing, with the national media filming the whole thing!

I took easy child 2/difficult child 2 down to vote this morning. If she had still been in hospital she would have got out of voting, but otherwise voting is compulsory for everyone over 18.
As usual we had to run the gauntlet of the various political supporters handing out their 'how to vote' paperwork. because it's a small town and I don't want people to know how I voted, but because I also need to know who NOT to vote for, I always collect one of every brochure, even from ratbag groups like "Australians Against Immigration". I take them in to the polling booth with me and study them there before I make my mark on the paper. We have the Westminster political system and so vote for two elections at once - our local MP, and the Upper House (the easy way to get into parliament). This time, like a lot of other times, the Upper House ballot paper was the size of a small tablecloth. I'm not joking! When they gave the papers to us when we signed in, they had to roll the big ballot paper like a scroll. The cardboard polling booths only have enough space for two standard sheets of paper, so we've got these table cloths scrolled everywhere, trying to analyse the tiny print on the 'how to vote' cards in order to make sure we make the mark we want and don't accidentally vote in "Horseriders in Favour of Trampling National Parks Into Oblivion" or "Ageing Pop Stars Desperate for a Comeback" (I'm kidding - but only just), or "Marijuana Party" (I kid you not).

We made our marks on our respective pieces of paper, with easy child 2/difficult child 2 in the cardboard booth next to me asking if she'd done it right. I told her, "The whole point of having the vote when you're 18 is so you can exert your democratic freedom and take on the responsibility with everyone else for whoever we get stuck with as leader," then told her who to vote for. Just kidding, but she wanted me to.
We then had to stick out now folded ballot papers in the cardboard boxes provided. The really stupid thing is, the small ballot paper's box is the same size as the one for the tablecloth. So even though it was still early in the voting day, trying to cram a folded tablecloth into an already overloaded box was difficult, while the other box next to it was clearly posing no problem. Even the slits on the box were the same size! It was like trying to post a shoebox into a letter-sized space. And doing it without your paper unfolding and showing everyone who you voted for is tricky. It must be an appalling crumpled mess in there by the time they open it.

The other trick with keeping your vote as secret as possible - on the way out, we hand the various 'how to vote' brochures back to the people we got them from. We often stop to chat as well, since many of them are well-known to us and friends of ours despite their sometimes strange political views. Leaving the brochures in the polling booth is illegal.

Surrounding the polling centre are other trappings of communal village life - the weekly fundraising raffle for the returned servicemen's wives; a jumble stall for another local group and a barbecue put on by the bushfire brigade (many wearing shirts calling for a vote for their captain). For a lot of people this is a social highlight, a chance to sit and gossip over a "sausage sanger" and talk politics with neighbours and friends.

easy child 2/difficult child 2 was sitting waiting in the car while I did the rest of my civic duties before we headed home feeling virtuous at getting our vote in early.

The polling station closes at 6 pm, I think. Then the TV coverage starts. At first it consists of journalists and political commentators nodding sagely and saying, "With no votes counted as yet, it's difficult to say which way this will go," although we're all fairly sure that poor old Peter Debnam is going to be out of a job by Monday. I suspect that within half an hour of the vote count, we'll have a result.

So that's how the Aussies do it, folks!

But in the end, it doesn't matter how your country does it. No matter how you vote or who you vote for - in the end, you always get stuck with a pol itician!!

(and if ANY word in all this gets censored, it will be other occurrences of that last one)