Saturday, 21 August 2010


One Twitterer to-day - Election Day for all Australians - tweeted "I love the smell of democracy. It smells like sausages."   And so it does.  Because, you see, no polling booth is complete without at least one or most of the following: a sausage sizzle; a cake stall; a cold drink stall; a jumble or garage sale.

And here is what the 1st Vermont Scout Group did when their building was used as a Polling Booth in the seat of Deakin to-day.

Apart from the sausage sizzle,  you must have nice smiling and friendly
booth workers from the various political parties
to hand you a how to vote ticket.
There are various ways of taking a how-to-vote ticket.
Some people come in waving all tickets away.
These people might be very secretive voters who won't tell.
Some might be "I know how I'm voting" type voters 
who can't be bothered with any assistance.
Then there are some who will take everyone's how-to-votes.
Some of these are environmentally sound and
return them to the booth workers on exiting the polling place.
Still others, and that tends to be me, just take tickets from
the party/ies they will be voting for.

And here are some of the friendly booth-workers at Vermont.
And as Tip O'Neill used to say - All politics is local
It seems that Mike Symon has learned that.

Then there is the queue.  The line-up is rarely long.
And for what are we waiting?

We are waiting to go across the room to the tables
to get our ballot papers from polling workers.
So that this occurs in an orderly fashion,
there is a guide.  He is standing behind the "Wait here" sign.

When we get to one of the polling workers,
we are asked:
Name and address
Have you voted already to-day?

Voting early and often is not on at all.

We are then crossed off the electoral roll
and given two ballot papers:
a pale green one for the House of Representatives
a very large (lots of candidates) white one for the Senate.

We then go here ......
...... to complete our ballot papers in private and in pencil.

We then cross back and place the ballot papers in their respective boxes.

A simple process taking, I suppose, about ten to fifteen minutes of our time.

At the close of polling, 
House of Representative ballot papers are then counted.
A preferential system of voting operates for the House of Representatives;
Proportional voting for the Senate.
Senate votes are forwarded to the electoral office for counting later.
House of Representatives results are unofficially announced and updated during the evening.
This is in spite of fact that all votes won't have been counted -
pre-polling votes (for those who won't be in their electorate);
absentee votes; and postal votes are counted last.
So the nation will know on the night which party will form government -
except in the closest of close races.

The two major parties in Australia are:
the Liberals (equivalent of America's Republicans) who
with the National Party (a small agriculturally based party) form 'The Coalition' 
and the
Australian Labor Party ( equivalent of America's Democrats).
Aside from these, the other significant party is the Greens -
an environmentally based party.
The Greens have never won a seat in the House of Reps at a general election.
They do hold a small number of seats in the Senate because of the voting system.
At this election, the Greens are hoping to gain additional senators
and their first House of Reps seat in the seat of Melbourne.

So as you can see, Networkers from overseas, 
voting runs very smoothly in Australia.
Our voting is not computerised -
except for those with a visual disability.
We don't even use ball-point pens.
Just a plain ordinary lead pencil does.

queues from the 2004 election
My nephew is in London and voted this week at Australia House.
This is the largest polling booth in the whole world - and
my nephew can't speak highly enough of how
proceedings were run there.

And to complete the picture of how things are done in The Land of Oz, I thought I would include the review of a television show published in the A2 section of The Age to-day.  The review does not refer to to-day's election but it does make a strong political point.  In fact, it could be required reading if Tony Abbott and the Liberals win government to-day.

From Twitter:
Just voted. There were no militias or suicide bombings. There were sausages and a cake stand. Voting in Australia is awesome. #AusVotes

Couch Life
Anson Cameron


Americans can’t afford to disrespect the boss, even if he’s small-minded and mean; here, it’s a different story.

And now to fairytales of kings who dress in rags so they can go among their people and hear of their suffering and hunger.  Good kings, noble kings, nut hunch-backed egotists who sniff free PR.

Undercover Boss they call these tales.  And what happens is the boss of some huge firm puts on a disguise and gets a lowly job at that huge firm to spy on the workers.  All very covert, apart from him being followed by a camera crew.  Across the hour he discovers his workers are more human than he had imagined.  And indeed there are moments of deep pathos in the show when workers tell of past tragedies and lost loved ones.  Moving moments that might make you cry.

In the last scene the boss throws off the baseball cap and dons the tie, revealing his status and announcing that the most important asset his billion-dollar firm has is its people: Barry and Jean and whatsername.  Then he waves his corporate wand and magicallly cures a couple of their more paltry ills.

Bill Carstanjen, boss of Churchill Downs Inc., worked with a cleaner for a night while she cleaned two whole floors of the racetrack grand-stand by herself.  At the end of the show, at restitution time, after he revealed who he was, you could see she expected real bounty to flow her way.  Would she het a helper?  A doubling of her wage?  Her kids’ school fees paid?  Bill gave her a guard to walk her to her car after work.  “Fank you, oh fank you, Mr Carstanjen,” she said.

Well, Americans can’t afford to disrespect the boss.  They have no unfair dismissal laws and their dole is as elusive as their Sasquatch.  They revere individual freedom ahead of equality and, sadly, this means people are free to live in trailer parks with no healthcare.  In Australia, a sort of compassion is enforced by tax.  In America, compassion is more often a gift from boasses who have paid none.

So there’s something about the Australian ethos that set our teeth on edge to watch smiling CEOs grant small privileges to struggling workers as if they were giving water pumps to African villages.  Watching Undercover Boss, Australians will tend to ask themselves: Aren’t a fair wage and decent hours this woman’s right?  Why does she need to suck arse to Bill Carstanjean?

A chief exec who went under-cover in this country would hear himself defamed by gifted malcontents.  This, in sweetly rhyming verse, is how I think the show might pan out if shot in Australia:

Disguised among his workers
In a ball cap dropping Gs,
He hears himself derided
For his meanness and his sleaze.
“That desk-bound ho, that CEO,
Knows sweet FA but runs the show.”
“My hands are raw, my back is sore.”
“He touched my bra strap with his paw.”
Ears a-flap at bra-strap chat
He vamooses like all varmints.
For head honcho’s crossed a Rubicon
Involving undergarments.
Please note:

Links in this article have been
inserted by Miss Eagle.

The last four lines of the verse 
are a pointed reference to a high profile
sex discrimination case current in Australia.

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