Australian Federal Election

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Australian Federal Election

Unread postby tofu » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:59 am

Australia went to the polling booths on 21 August '10. And we still haven't found out who our country's new leader is.

This year, the two major political parties (Labor & Liberal) are both leaded by such incompetant idiots that the nation can't decide who they hate more; The "Real" Julia Gillard, as she has so called herself, or The Lying Tony Abbot, as he admitted himself to be.

Are there any Aussies here who have something to say on this issue? (non-Aussies allowed too :wink: )
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:46 pm

BOY DO I!?!

But alas, people actually know I use this forum now, so I'd rather not. However Tofu you may like to read what I did on election day?

edit: As Sun Fin has shown, this sentence was open to misinterpretation. It's not that I'm not allowed to express my opinions, everybody knows I'm pretty opinionated, it's just that it gets embarrassing when it keeps catching up to me and I'd personally rather not.


ANYWAY, onto my mad mad day, 21st of August, the day of the Australian Federal Election.

Background: As many of you know, I am a member of the Australian Labor Party. Now, being a member in Australia is a good deal more involved than being a member in the US (for a start, we actually pay membership fee and sit in branches etc. and are not allowed to break party lines in politics or...day to day life really).

Now, Young Labor, which is the youth wing of the Labor party for under 25 year olds, were sent from Sydney to outlying crucial battleground seats. Young Labor is broken into two factions to correspond with the two actual factions in Labor- Unity (Labor Right) and Socialist Left (Labor Left). Those belonging to Student Unity (the larger centre-left faction) helped in the seats of Hughes and Macarthur in the outskirts of south western Sydney. Those belonging to National Labor Students (the smaller left faction which I belong to) helped in the seat of Macquarie in the outskirts of north-western Sydney.

Macquarie is a geographically large electorate (larger than what I'm used to in the city anyway) and it covers two large regions, the Blue Mountains which is left wing, and the Hawkesbury River which is right wing.

Day:

11.50pm: arrived at Kingswood station after a one and a half hour train trip from Sydney. Picked up by friends already there and driven to Penrith House, a large house/sardine can rented by the party where they packed over 20 students. Ate three slices of cold pizza (didn't have dinner) in silence and then slept on makeshift bed.

3.00am: woken up. The Macquarie campaign coordinator, Tamsen, gave us instructions, we were to set up stations and bunting (ie. promotional materials) at 15 booths in the mountains.

3.10am: started drive to Faulconbridge Campaign Field Office, about 2 liters of red bull sculled between the four of us in the car. Temperatures near freezing. Marched in to office to find someone sleeping on the floor.

3.40am: given instructions and supplies and departed. I was to join Tamsen and two friends (Phoebe and Meghan) in setting up six booths in the mid mountain ranges and to relieve security from the three bigger booths.

3.55am: Set up first booth, met two other NLS kids (one of whom I knew, guy called Matt) parked there, but in the dark thought we were each from the other party. Hilarity ensues. Somehow the small and crazy Christian Democrat party managed to set up before even us. No sign of other parties.

4.10am: Ran out of something (can't remember, tape? rope?) at second booth. Dropped Tamsen back at office and picked up supplies.

4.30am: Finished doing second booth. Got message from friend Gabe in the upper mountains and the town of Katoomba that it's so cold there that they were snowed on in their car. (you have to realize how big of a deal snow is in Australia. We don't have snow clothes. Most of us wore t-shirts, jackets, scarves and jeans.)

5.00am: Got pretty lost in the lower mountains. Saw a McDonalds and we all resolved to have breakfast after setting up.

5.50am: Went to third booth, Blaxland East Primary School, a large and important booth already set up. I was told to get out of the car and relieve overnight security. There were two security cars there, one from us and one from the Coalition (the other main party). Neither of the security spoke english that well. Confusion ensues. Eventually figured out which one was ours and relieved him. Told him the password "ranga" (The Australian slang for a red haired person, ie. our Prime Minister and leader of party Julia Gillard), he shook our hands and departed.

6.00am: Branch members were supposed to arrive to relieve us. No sign. It was deemed that I would man the station until they arrived whilst my team set up other booths and relieved other security. Gave up hope on McDonalds breakfast. Jumped up and down in one spot to keep warm.

6.20am: First Coalition branch member arrived, stopped jumping up and down cos I didn't want to look ridiculous to the other side. Suffered the cold.

6.40am: Still no sign of relief. Coalition has three people now and the first Greens arrived. Thought every car slowing down was a branch car. Got disappointed many many many times.

6.50am: By this point even the Christian Democrats managed to send someone. Angrily phoned team, Phoebe sent to join me.

7.30am: Branch members finally show up.

8.00am: Polls open! Voted to get it out of the way.

8.10am: Members of the LHMU (Liquor, Hospitality and Misc. Union, a traditional ally to Labor Left) turn up in support. We actually now have too many people. But transport is still far away. Thus I have a nice chat to a Labor member. He thanks the NLS coming out and laments that in the mountains the youth aren't joining Labor anymore. (frankly in the rural areas I don't think the youth are joining anybody since they have to kind of...go into the cities for tertiary education)

8.15am: Met Bob Debus, former MP for this seat. One of the nicest people I've ever met. But to be honest it's not just him, but everybody from the Mountains, regardless of political affiliations.

8.25am: Susan Templeman, Labor candidate for Macquarie shows up. Another byproduct of mountains hospitality and kindness.

8.50am: Encouraging shouts from cars driving past, from "go Labor!" to "let's do it for Susan!". Though a few voters did mumble something about wanting Kevin Rudd (Labor ex-PM deposed by Gillard) back, but still begrudgingly voted Labor. God bless the mountains.

9.30am: Finally picked up and driven back to the Faulconbridge Office. Meghan felt sick.

9.40am: Watched news programs at office for a while. Pretty much talking heads repeating the same drivel.

10.00am: Told we could rest at a motel across the road until about 2pm. Wasn't tired (thanks Red Bull) so walked up and down street looking for breakfast (lunch est. at 2pm, if it could find us). Ended up buying single chickenstick to stave off hunger.

10.30am: Phoebe and Meghan both fast asleep. I couldn't sleep and watched TV. So repetitive that I only realized half an hour in that I watched the same bit thrice that morning.

10.45am: Got phone call that we had to check out of the motel by 11.30am. Both girls quite annoyed. They were offered to be driven to another house to sleep.

11.20am: Gabe (guy who got snowed on) was back at the office from the upper mountains. We were receiving reports of being pressed or unions failing to turn up from all quarters. I was in no state to rest, and Phoebe and Meghan resolved not to either (though Meghan was still sick). Thus armed with balloons, a hydrogen tank, coffee and panadols we were off to patrol the booths and increase morale and offer support where needed.

11.30am: Back to Blaxland East. Saw Clair, the candidates for the Greens. Like literally every Greens campaigner in the district, she was a 50-something year old Caucasian woman with frizzy hair and a wide smile. Some man demanded to know "whose the Labor man here" and then scolded Phoebe for a solid five minutes about how she should be ashamed of herself for ruining the country. Ah, the life of a campaigner.

11.40am: Driving to understrength booth called Denison Road Primary School. Needed to leave one person there for until early afternoon, by this point I'd learnt that campaign lingo is to say everything will happen earlier than it will. So I knew "early afternoon" meant "until polls close". Volunteered since Gabe was needed to drive the car, Meghan was still sick and Phoebe was more important than I to have on the move.

11.50am: Arrived at Denison, saw Coalition candidate Louise Markus leaving. Sadness of being left at one booth (which gets boring and also means you're isolated from the information stream) evaporates at seeing a BBQ. Had a sausage sandwich hurriedly for breakfast/brunch. (one thing about campaigning is that people need to consume a lot due to being too active and not sleeping enough)

12.20pm: Visiting former Coalition MP whacked in head by huge gust which blew up giant Greens campaign placard. Laughs were had. Guess the environment helps the party that helps it.

12.30pm: Engage in friendly debate with other campaigners. There were five of us there. Me and another Labor NLS girl, a Greens (50-something year, of course) old woman, two men from Coalition. Halfway during the banter a man from the Christian Democrats arrived. Thus we started arguing on everything from Climate Change to Gay Marriage, the three progressives versus the three conservatives. Twenty minutes later the only common ground we can arrive at was that the weather was too cold and windy today.

2.00pm Spent a while chatting to a nice old Liberal campaigner (deliberately on none political topics, like Chinese cuisine), who seemed much more well spoken than the Liberal branch members of earlier. Was told later that he was the former MP. That might explain the relative affability. Though, to be honest, if you're gonna be there for hours next to the same person, you'd be trying to stay on their good side regardless. (I may have been singing a different tune if people from the ultra-xenophobic Australian Protectionist Party arrives)

2.30pm Sandwich arrives (yes!) as do branch members (yes!) as does the cold gust (eeehhhh...)

4.00pm Cynical city sensibilities meets genial mountains hospitality as a branch member offers my exhausted friend her house to sleep in. We ended up just kipping in the car.

5.00pm Told to drive back to Faulconbridge with friend in order to gather up a team and take down bunting in all the mid mountains booths (ie. posters, A-frames etc.). Estimated time 2 hours. Now, this ran off alarm bells. I didn't mind the work but after polls close at 6pm I really did want to know the results coming in.

6.30pm Returned to office. As first we just kinda sat around looking at the results coming in, desperately not wanting to leave. But everybody was going to need to keep working, if you're not taking down bunting then you're scrutineering. Which was worse because at least you can listen to the radio in the car on the way to each booth. Eventually a guy came with a truck and we were to follow him in the car, the four of us. Now, one of the others was actually a Greens volunteers, whose girlfriend is with Labor. This election has always been favored to have a considerable swing to the greens but being very close in general outcome between Labor and the Coalition. So whilst the three labor people were in the edge of the seat listening to results, the Greens person just beamed over and over at every number. He did eventually concede to us that the historic Greens win might be less happy a result if Tony Abbott (leader of the coalition) ended up prime minister.

7.00pm Now, we understand the truck driver is a campaigner whose not slept for two days, but having said that, we all thought we were going to die in these trips. He drove incredibly erratically, breaking dozens of road rules, braking and turning without warning. Not to mention there was a suspicious amount of smog leaking from his truck. And once he forgot to close the doors, in which case the giant A-frames would all fly out of his truck's back and through our windows. On top of this physical fear of impending gnarly death there was another fear that we were losing the election. We all joked that we were going to hear that Abbott is made Prime Minister, and a minute later we'd all die in a car collision. Hung parliament likely.

8.30pm Having done what we thought were all the booths, we were told that we had to do another 12 or so, as no other teams were available to take them down. And these were in the upper mountains. My friend and I were tired, we needed to get back to Sydney around midnight, and we didn't want to miss the whole results coming at post-election party. So we decided to leave and felt decidedly rotten as we left the three of them in the truck to take down more bunting.

8.50pm Arrived at party. Food all gone. Felt a new sense of dread (my original sense of dread being of course related to the result) that I had no idea where my bag was. The polls were extremely close for Macquarie and they were leading (but I've been told we always expected that). Hung parliament all but certain.

9.20pm Stole a slice of pizza. Told the car I thought my bag was in was not. And that it was in an ASU (Australian Services Union) car driven by Tamsen. Polls a photo finish nationally. Queensland swung wildly against us. Pondered briefly that it wouldn't be too bad if we just cut Queensland off (from the Commonwealth). We can get our tropical fruits from the Phillipines, our beach destinations in Bali/New Caledonia, and our populist racism from Western Sydney. Yep, they're cool to secede if they wanna. Brief excitement as we lead by 0.8% in the seat.

9.40pm Tamsen finally arrived. She parked her car in god knows where and I took her keys and spent the next half an hour searching in the freezing cold for her car. Got lots of strange glances from people as I went around parking lots closely glaring at every car's insides (was a bit drunk).

9.50pm Went back to party to ask for more instructions. Told that I was using wrong key. My original lift back to Sydney has left. Dreaded prospect of a night spent in makeshift bed.

10.10pm FINALLY found car (their directions were way off) and my bag. Returned and got the last lift back to Sydney.

12.30am Fell asleep in my car, missed my house, got off two suburbs away. Grabbed a slice of greasy disgusting pizza from only shop still open and munched down silently whilst punters around me talked loudly about the election.

12.50am Arrived home in cab. Went to sleep hoping that I wake up tomorrow and hear that Julia Gillard is now Prime Minister-elect.

11.30am Woke up. Parliament now as hung as Rasputin's cooler older brother. DAMMIT!




edit: I'd like to say that if Tony Abbott becomes PM (ARRRRRGGGHHH!!!) then EVERY major Westminster Democracy will have had a conservative minority government
Last edited by Crazedmongoose on Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Aug 25, 2010 2:57 pm

So of your two parties, Liberal and Labour, which is considered the most conservitive? Because both of our (British) parties that share those names are considered left leaning...

Anyway can you remind me why you can't express as opinion on a board people know you use Crazed?
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:50 am

Nah I can express my political opinion but it kind of gets embarrassing when it comes back to me. Not too likely to happen but it has happened before and has been embarrassing. It's not a real issue and probably not as big as you think.


To answer your question, both parties are broad tents but the Liberals are (strangely) the Tory party. Whilst Labor is similar to your Labor. We have no Lib-Dems, but our Greens party is pretty massive.


And it's not just the Liberal party, but a coalition between the Liberal and National Party, which forms our conservative side of politics. This coalition is very stable and has lasted for like over eighty years.

The REASON that the Liberal Party is called that is because, much like in the US. there was a time when the Liberal Party was the more progressive one.
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:50 am

Well the Liberals were England's progressive party pre-Labour being formed. To be honest I'd argue that since Blair its now the most progressive of our parties.

So clearly you voted Labour. I'm going to go and do a little bit of background on the two...

EDIT: Looking at the PC all of your parties are pretty conservative:

http://www.politicalcompass.org/aus2010

Based on that I'd be voting for labour or national.
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:57 pm

Both parties took a hard dive to the right this election for reasons I'm too depressed to mention.


But I'm a member and supporter of Socialist Left, which is the leftist faction of the Labor party that's probably closer to the Greens than anybody else in political position (socially probably just as left, economically a bit more right).

However our faction is only about 1/3 of the Labor party. The other 2/3 is Labor Unity, which isn't left wing.
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:01 pm

And your 1/3 isn't talking about breaking of as a seperate party?

Looks like there's a niche for a mainstream socialist party.

Not that I'm in support of that just thought I'd point it out.
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Thu Aug 26, 2010 1:22 pm

Labor Unity and Socialist Left have stuck together through thick and thin for over fifty years. Occasionally there'll be civil wars (which looks to be on the brink soon) but both factions understand the importance of maintaining a broad tent. We'll often have disagreements but we'll always present a united front to the outside in order to move Australia forward in the direction we deem correct.

Socialist Left is a misleading name, nobody in our faction is actually socialist. We're mostly Social Democrats and Third Way believers (ie. our ideology is still on the foundation of market economies). And thus we're united with Labor Unity, because at the core we believe in the same fundamental Labor values, compassion, a fair go, looking to the future, looking out for the small guys and standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves.


An actual ideologically pure and uncompromising leftist party does exist in Australia for the niche market you describe, the Greens Party which gets well over 10% of the popular vote. However the Socialist Left believes that it's more effective to effect change from within. As ideologically unbending and seemingly noble as the Greens are, they're still largely ineffective in passing progressive legislation or convincing the Australian public to become more progressive.
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby tofu » Thu Aug 26, 2010 2:59 pm

Seems like you had a pretty laidback, chillaxin' election day, Crazed. :wink:

May I ask why you so staunchly support the Labor party?
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Re: Australian Federal Election

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:34 pm

Another question I have is why ALP spells its own name the way it does. I thought British spelling was in common usage in Australia, as opposed to our American mangling of the language?
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