Wot larks! An election!

11.30pm I’m going to bed now.

11.25pm Clear acknowledgement that caretaker conventions apply. But then into campaigning type mode. His targets are the independents, and he’s making hay on the primary vote favouring the Libs. Doesn’t he understand how the voting system here works?

11.22pm Lib crowd cheers the election of the first ever indigenous representative. He’s a Lib. I wonder if they’ll get around to reflecting that it’s taken a bloody long time. FFS, it’s the twenty-first century.

11.20pm Nice opening – he urges no premature triumphalism.

11.16pm Tony Abbott coming into the Lib venue to make a speech… with his wife and daughters.

10.55pm ABC points out that the first indigenous MP has been elected. The first.

10.50pm Graceful remarks to Tony Abbott. And some very positive words about the functions of government carrying on. It’s all about reassurance. Some campaigning remarks, but it’s mostly thanks and reassurance. Good Prime Ministerial stuff.

10.47pm Congratulated Adam Bandt on his election as a Green to the House of Reps. She’s making an overture to him, and to other independents.

10.45pm Julia Gillard is speaking. Quoted Bill Clinton: The people have spoken. It will just take a little while to work out what they have said.

10.15pm A hung parliament! It’s going to depend on the pre-polls, and then the negotiations. And it will take weeks. Time for a bit of patience. However, if the Aussies take a bit of time to look across the Tasman, they will learn that the functions of government will carry on, that the institutions are sufficiently robust to withstand a caretaker period, that top public servants really can keep it all ticking over for a while. Sooner or later those public servants will need politicians to take policy decisions, but in the meantime, the world won’t come to an end. Or even a temporary halt. As a rule, they are excellent servants of the commonwealth, and in the next few weeks, they will continue to serve to the best of their ability, with all the wisdom that their years of service give them. It ain’t so bad.

9.45pm So is it ageist to worry about Wyatt Roy’s age? No – it’s realistic. He doesn’t stand a chance amongst the hardened men of the Liberal caucus, nor does he have much experience at all to bring to the table. By the time you get to 40 or 50, you’ve had to learn to compromise, to get on with other people, to pick when to stand your ground, and when to give way. He has no such experience. Either he will learn it in a baptism of fire in the next year or two, or he will be crushed. I hope it’s the former.

9.36pm Wyatt Roy has been elected for the Libs. He’s 20 years old, and looks about 14. He’s still got pimples!

9.35pm My goodness. Does Wyatt Roy’s mummy know he’s staying out late tonight?

9.30pm My local MP is on air. A Lib, returned with an increased margin. White man, married with children. All the right appearance… But he’s been in the house for 17 years, and as far as I can tell, he’s done nothing. That’s the leafy suburbs in South Australia for you.

9.25pm Green leader Bob Brown is on the box, looking very wrinkly and creased. He has amazing lines on his face. Mr Strange Land thinks this is because he is 15% tree.

9.17pm Holy shit! Looks like a Family First dinosaur has been elected to the Senate in South Australia. IT WASN’T ME!!! I put them only just above One Nation on my ballot. South Australia Senate result

9.07pm Could be a hung parliament… certainly looks like no result tonight. It could all hinge on the specials, or as they call them her, the “pre-polls”.

9.00pm The Labor bloodletting has started, on national TV, on election night. It’s not a pretty sight.

8.55pm Maxine McKew is bitter. And full of 20/20 hindsight. Seems to me that she might have needed to work a bit harder in her electorate if she wanted to keep her seat.

8.50pm I’m very impressed by Stephen Smith, Labor MP for Perth, who is calling the numbers on the ABC. He’s smart, and honest, giving clear commentary, and reasons, even where those reasons run against the Labor party.

8.37pm I only know one sitting MP in this election, Paul Fletcher (Libs, Bradfield) from long long ago, when we were both around university debating, both trans-Tasman and worlds. He has retained his seat, and increased his margin. He’s smart and able, and even if I don’t agree with his politics, I think that he would be an excellent MP.

8.27pm KRudd speech… very dull, and the ABC has cut away from it, because “it could go on for some time.”

8.20pm Just been talking to my brother, who is in Queensland, ‘though only recently, so he is not a citizen yet. He thinks that Australians are in general very positive people. But… he’s heard nothing but negativity in this campaign, nothing but what is wrong with the other bloke, a campaign of fear and loathing. Another cultural disconnect: I don’t recall campaigns at home being so negative.

8.00pm Dessert

Chocolate cake, bowl of yoghurt, one slice cut out, showing strawberry and jam filling

(Description: Chocolate cake, bowl of yoghurt, one slice cut out, showing strawberry and jam filling)

7.50pm 8% swing to Julia in her seat, 4% swing to Tony in his seat.

7.20pm Dessert break.

7.10pm And the disconnect is starting to kick in. Back in NZ, I know the names of the electorates, I know where they are, I understand the voting patterns. Here, I just don’t know at all. More than that, I don’t understand the pattern that’s showing in the seat count. Right now, the tally is Labor 63, Libs / Nats 49 and other 3, with just 35 in doubt now. But is that a standard pattern? Libs ahead early in the evening when the small booths are counted, then the city seats starting to come in and an apparent swing to Labor? What’s the usual pattern later in the evening? Should I be expecting the Libs to come back?

7.05pm Andrew Lambing (?), a Lib, is talking about his victory, with his blonde trophy wife at his side. She looks like she needs to make an immediate rush for the bathroom…

6.50pm It’s just hit 50 seats each for Labor and the Lib / Nats. Still 3 for others, and 47 undecided.

6.45pm There’s a 4.5% swing in Kevin Rudd’s seat, to the Libs! I thought there would be a big sympathy vote for him there.

6.27pm Mr Strange Land has finally gotten round to reading my blog, and has worked out that we’re having yoghurt chocolate cake for dessert. He is pleased. My friend’s daughter is wondering if this is the usual mode of communication in our house.

6.25pm Last election Labor took John Howard’s seat. But it looks like it’s not going to be held: a 7% swing to the Libs, and the margin is only 1.5%. But that’s based on just one booth.

6.15pm My friend voted in the Boothby electorate, in a Scout Hall. Apparently there was an excellent sausage sizzle. And a picture of the queen on the wall.

6.10pm 16 for Labor, 30 for the Lib/Nats, 3 to others, 100 in doubt, according to ABC TV. The website has it different: the web site is lagging just slightly behind the TV call.

6.05pm ABC is saying 11 to the ALP, 26 to Lib / National Party, 3 to others, 110 undecided. But that’s based on small booths that have reported first. So there’s a heavy rural bias so far.

6.00pm Wine. Cleanskin thus far, but we’ll move onto an Oyster Bay chardonnay soon.

4.30pm Despite having lived here for nearly six years, in two stretches of three years each, this is only the second federal election for which I have been present. Last time round, in 1998, I didn’t take much notice of the results coming in, because I was in labour with our first baby. This time round, we’re getting ready for a serious night of election watching. The yoghurt chocolate cake (dessert) has just come out of the oven, and the roast chickens (free range, stuffed with lemons and thyme) have gone in. I’ll serve them with rosemary roast tatie chips, beans, and roasted brussels sprouts. My friend and her daughter should be here in an hour or so, and we can pour the first glass of wine. People at Larvatus Prodeo have advised me to watch the ABC, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the results at the Australian Electoral Commission’s Virtual Tally Room too.

In another moment of culture shock, Sky News has some exit polls from marginal seats, about an hour before the polling booths close in the eastern states. They’re showing 51 – 49 in favour of the Labor party.

Vote for Pyne (libs), scary Tony Abbott picture

Scary Tony

12.30pm I have voted. It was an exercise in culture shock, because right at the polling booth, there was a whole pile of election advertising. Scary Tony Abbott pictures from the Labor party (I assume), scary Labor spending graphs from the Libs, and scary Senator Joyce pictures, reminding South Australians that Joyce thinks that people should move to where the water is. I think Joyce’s eyes had been photoshopped, to make them bulgy.

Labor debt graph, flanked by scary Tony Abbott, and standard candidate picture for Rick Sarre - local Labor candidate

Scary Labor debt graph

It’s all very different from home, where absolutely all election advertising must be removed before election day, so that voters have a chance to vote in peace. However, everything was very peaceful and well organised inside the polling place. The scrutineer took my name and address, asked me if I had voted already (No!) and handed my my ballot papers. Unlike New Zealand, they don’t record ballot paper numbers against my name, but each paper is initialled by the scrutineer.

Senator Joyce, with eyes photoshopped to make them bulge a little, saying "move to where the water is"

Scary Senator Joyce, Queensland farmer

Back in the state election in March, I was disconcerted to find that I was expected to record my vote in pencil. This time I took a pen, and recorded my votes. I rather like the preferential voting system, because it allows me to think about who I really, really, really don’t like as well as who I vote for. All the same, it was disturbing to realise that I had to express a preference for One Nation, albeit my very last preference of all. I’ve voted below the line for the Senate, expressing my own preferences for how I would like the Senate to be made up, instead of running with the pollies’ preferences.

A stall with a Salvation Army banner, selling jam.

Just jam

Very disappointingly, there was no sausage sizzle. I had promised the strangelings that they could have sausages wrapped in bread to celebrate democracy, but we had to make do with cakes from the local shops instead. All that was available was some home made jam.

Waiting time now.

9.10am One more cup of coffee, to propel me into doing my democratic duty.

9.00am The polling places opened an hour ago, Mr Strange Land has taken Ms Eleven to her netball game, the Misses Nine have a bye, and I’m in bed feeling a little sorry for myself with some sort of fluey illness. The Australian still seems to be trapped in its delusions about the Libs having a chance, even though every poll in the country other than Newspoll is calling it 52 – 48 for Labor. 50 – 50 insists The Oz. What are they smoking?

I’ll update this sporadically during the day, and more in the evening and I’ll tweet when I update it: @beefaerie Updates may depend on the quantity of coffee and wine consumed.

24 responses to “Wot larks! An election!

  1. 52/48 could win it, if the marginals are close. Damn this bastardised FPP lower house.

    I’ll be out this afternoon til polls close wearing a green ribbon and telling people to give their party vote… oh wait! Yes, it all bemuses me slightly too.

    Enjoy your strange election. Or perhaps NZ elections just seem normal because we’re accustomed to them?

  2. Good luck with the live blogging, I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts :-)

  3. I spent 1.5 hours selling sausage sangers at the school, but that’s not in our electorate so we came back home to vote at the church up the road from us. The place is practically deserted, there’s no one from Labor there at all, a contingent of 4 people handing out Libs HTVs and one lone Greens guy who I thanked for being there. The queue was all of 3 people long.

  4. Our booth was very busy and the sausage stall was doing great trade. We had a sole liberal guy, two ALP (one quite aggressive), three greens and five Get Up handing out cards. It was a lot of fun having our stereotypes confounded by who took which how to vote cards. Very polite and friendly from everyone, except one disenchanted liberal voter who expressed his anger at Tony Abbott very strongly indeed to the liberal volunteer.

  5. Never underestimate home made jam

  6. It was an exercise in culture shock, because right at the polling booth, there was a whole pile of election advertising.

    That really annoys me — couldn’t this be the one day which is about voters exercising their rights in a democractic nation NOT electioneering?

  7. Deb, I voted in Aus for the first time this morning, and I really hated having to run the gamut of the party people. I was really shocked the first time I saw it, too. And there was no sausage sizzle, no lamingtons and nothing much of anything really.

  8. My partner has just commented that it’s a weird system. No no, I said, just different from home. Yeah, weird, he said.

  9. Hi Deborah
    Sort of a begging comment but had a chat to DPF today and got his permission to repost his comments on my MySpace blog re Australian election and then spotted your blog at homepaddock would love to be able to use your comments and observations as well. I won’t include a link here to my MySpace blog but you have my email if you want to check it out first and I will happily email you it

  10. Go for it, IHStewart! I’m not sure how frequent my updates will be, but I’ll do my best.

    Sorry not to reply earlier: I was getting dinner underway.

  11. Thanks Deborah
    I will link back to your blog
    Cheers
    Hamish

  12. Very disappointing about lack of sausage sizzle. After all, why else do you go? I think you should lodge a complaint.

  13. The whole sausage sizzle/lamington thing is weird to kiwis too. You go, you vote, you feel virtuous. Of course, voting isn’t compulsory there, so you really are entitled to feel virtuous when you’ve voted and you didn’t *have* to. I think it’s really interesting how much of a difference compulsory voting makes to a nation’s culture.

  14. Deb, I completely disagree about Maxine. She couldn’t have worked harder. I know someone who has been driving her and doorknocking with her all over the electorate – not just in the last month but every weekend since the last election. The seat (was John Howard’s) is really a ‘natural’ Lib seat and it was a fluke that she won it last time. No-one could have worked harder than she has in her electorate. The new member is a retired tennis star with a very high local profile, but a complete political virgin. The people of Bennelong have now got a member who is probably not really very interested in them. But that’s what they wanted – that’s what they’re used to!

  15. Thanks Deborah this was the blog you and David produced actually I am quite irrationally proud of it given I had no intellectual imput http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=26897355&blogId=538435974
    Thankyou very much. I hope you have a great night figuring out who will be in charge tomorrow.
    Thanks again
    Hamish

  16. Looks like you’re moving back to New Zealand!

  17. So, can we now look forwards to a UK-style media breakdown where a hung Parliament (and a real coalition that will take time to assemble either way) will give your Granny’s kitten AIDS? Or something.

  18. This is the first Aussie election I can recall getting prominent, as opposed to perfunctory, coverage and comment in New Zealand media. Watching bits of the results coming in live on Sky, I was just as confused as you about the electorates Deborah, though not half as well fed…
    First indigenous MP ever? Don’tcha need a boggling moment?

  19. At least if the worst happens, you’re returning to New Zealand so you won’t have to face Prime Minister Abbott after December

  20. I think “first ever indigenous representative” is a bit misleading – Wyatt will be the first ever indigenous member elected to the Federal Lower House in a general election. Aden Ridgeway was a Federal Senator from 1999-2005, there was Neville Bonner of course, and there have been and are Indigenous people in State/Territory govenrnments (most notably of course in the NT). The Houses aside, the ALP has also had an Indigenous National President, and SA has had an Indigenous Governor.

    I think representation has been appalingly low overall, but a few qualifications have been elided here and there when lauding the Liberal party for “a first”.

  21. No way to edit – I wanted to add “and the representation of Indigenous women particularly so” to that “appallingly low” sentence.

  22. Quick word on Maxine McKew: the consensus in the household I was watching at was that Rudd had kept her in a box and not given her any chance at any kind of visible effort/presence. Ditto (to a lesser extent) Penny Wong. I was also very startled by the obvious quality of Stephen Smith, who of course was constantly eclipsed in his Foreign Affairs portfolio by Rudd himself — I kept thinking Why on earth have we not seen more of this man in the last three years? Watching the ABC it became clear to me in the course of the night just how true it was about Rudd and his obsessive controlling and inability to delegate.

    Sorry about lateness of comment but I have been in a state of catatonic depression all day and am only just snapping out of it. Glenlivet is a lovely thing.