After several months of unofficial and 6 weeks of official electioneering, today, 24 November 2007, Australia finally votes. Thank goodness I have been out of the country for all but the last 6 weeks and I have not had to put up with the constant politicking.
The Fulham Gardens Primary School election booth in the electorate of Hindmarsh
The polls have just closed in some of the Eastern states and they will close soon in my state of South Australia. Tonight I will enjoy a hardcore election evening via both the Internet and television.
I yearn for a change of government. The current Liberal-National Coalition have been corrupted by 11 years of power, control of both houses of parliament and a rodent named John Winston Howard.
The opposition Labor Party (ALP) have been favourites in both the opinion polls and betting markets for months but they are not certainties to win back government. I doubt anybody will be celebrating until the election result is certain.
Both major parties have similar policies in many areas and a common feature of this election campaign is the me-tooism. The Labor Party haven’t wanted to differentiate themselves from the governing parties except for policies that they believe most people support.
Election posters; from left to right: leader-centric Labor Party, xenophobic One Nation, negative Liberal Party
Despite their name, the Liberal Party are socially conservative and have increased governmental powers, taxes and spending during their time in power. Unfortunately, their spending decisions were often made in a knee-jerk fashion and not based on evidence, leading to poor outcomes. The Liberal party has campaigned on fear and negativities. Their posters at the polling booth didn’t even mention the party or their leader and instead focused on bad things that might happen if Labor get elected. The Liberals lack a vision.
I did not vote in the last few elections as I lived abroad, mainly in Mersin, Turkey, and years ago my name was taken off the electoral roll.
I am located in the Federal electorate of Hindmarsh, suburban Adelaide. It is currently a marginal Labor seat held by Steve Georganas. The Liberal contestant is Rita Bouras. An interesting side note: both major party candidates are of Greek ancestry.
This morning I voted at the Fulham Gardens Primary School (located in Henley Beach, not the neighbouring suburb Fulham Gardens) election booth. The different party posters were on display and their supporters were handing out how-to-vote (HTV) cards. I refused to take any cards stating I cared for the environment. Instead of following a certain political party’s preferences, I chose my own.
Voters lining up at the Fulham Gardens Primary School
The voter line up extended for about 20 metres. Upon booth entry, I was directed to an electoral roll worker. She asked for my surname and name, asked if I had voted before, and then signed and gave me the Senate and House of Representative ballot papers. The lack of an ID check surprised me.
Because of the honesty and openess portrayed over the years by Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett in his blog I gave the Australian Democrats candidates high preferences on both ballot papers. I placed Coalition and fundamentalist parties like Family First Christian Democratic Party (CDP) and One Nation very low down. I also placed ALP fairly low, although always above the Liberals. This was particularly true for ALP’s lead Senate candidate Don Farrell.
Don was my union boss during the time I worked at Foodland Fulham Gardens. Every Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) newsletter contained 6-15 photos of himself and I did not appreciate his self-promotion. I also am not impressed by his very conservative values. I did appreciate the work done by the SDA though.
Besides the Democrats, I also gave high preferences to the libertarian Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP) and independent candidates.
My completed ballot papers
The South Australian Senate race was made more interesting after Nick Xenophon of No-Pokies fame announced his Senate candidature. As Nick’s grouping received 20% of the upper house vote in the last state election he is expected to gain the 13.4% quota required for a Senate seat.
Let the election night begin!
The ABC with their election guru Antony Green generally has the best election coverage.
As always, wikipedia has a good run-down of the Australian electoral system for those who want to learn more.
PS: I still have many posts about Malaysia and Australia to write and photos to upload. Sorry about the slackness…
POST-ELECTION UPDATE: The incumbent Liberal/National Coalition has been kicked out and the Labor Party has won the most seats enabling them to form the next government. To my delight, the former Prime Minister John Howard looks highly likely to lose his Bennelong seat to Maxine McKew. Unfortunately, the blogging Andrew Bartlett was not re-elected to the Senate.
Let’s wish for a more accountable and open government and less cynical wedge politics.