IT WAS cold, grey and foreboding when I arrived at the Murray Street booth in Wonthaggi on election day. The opposition’s all-new faces were already in place but in the interests of fair play someone had put our Greens sign in place out the front. A trickle of the healthy, wealthy and wise were arriving.
With no Peter and Ruth Glare (ALP members of long standing) to exchange clever digs with, no Pauline or Miriam for company, I tried to lighten things by suggesting that an approaching dark cloud was pollution from coal power stations. Jeenie, for the ALP, said the Latrobe Valley was in the other direction. Nobody smiled.
It looked like being a long day but as usual I caught up with school friends, old work collegues, distant relatives, former neighbours and legends who move in different paths and whom I don’t normally see.
Between the reunions, there was plenty of time for observation and discussions. I thought if a set of scales were set up at each polling booth it would be be a way of monitoring obesity: total weight of booth divided by the number of voters. It would be useful for health planners and we could bet on the biggest gain or loss.
My replacement turned up and I left to attend to my weekly domestics. When I came back in the afternoon I saw the voters I would not usually get close to: the nocturnal, confused, annoyed, the overworked, the sleep-deprived and those who resented having to vote, or at least turn up.
The afternoon dark cloud from Bass Strait was rain and we all took shelter under the community-initiated publicly funded Senior Citizens verandah. There were one greenie, two happy clappers with six kids, one ambitious young Liberal, one boat stopper and three people who were born overseas (two came here on boats as children), all well intentioned, all prepared to give up their time to be not just spectators but participants in a game that contributes in a small way to making the world a better place.
With Christians, fishers and shooters, and sport, sex and motoring enthusiasts represented, I wondered about starting up a Health Party or Education Party, or a coalition of the two, next election. Surely most people would at least give health and education their third preference.
The result of this one was a foregone conclusion*. It wasn’t really a fair contest. We have free speech but not fair speech: the more money you have the more speech you can buy.
Congratulations to Rupert on yet another win. Congratulations Clive, Gina and all the other mine-owners. I’ll be waiting for the trickledown.
* Here’s a new word for the Macquarie Dictionary: “rupert”, referring to the outcome of a competition where the result has already been decided. Example: the soccer match was a rupert.
November 18, 2013
Couldn't agree more. Also, author and playwright Dennis Potter, perhaps best known for TV drama series Singing Detective, featured in a long ABC1 interview about his life and times during his dying days. More than once, he referred to his cancer as Rupert. Will now adopt it as adjective myself and am expecting to use it a lot.
Bernie McComb, Cowes
October 17, 2013
Frank commented on the sense of fair play between those handing out how to vote cards. When handing out cards at elections, it’s surprised me to discover how much common ground I have with supporters of the other parties. I have had agreeable conversations with members of the ALP, the Liberals, Family First, even once the Shooters Party. I now believe the great gulf in politics is not between supporters of the different parties or policies but between the politically engaged and the politically disengaged. The latter are the ones who vote reluctantly.
I believe they are also ones who have inadvertently debased politics and politicians because they can only be swayed by fear and greed. Hence the great race to the bottom by politicians from all parties bidding for their votes.
October 6, 2013
I really enjoyed Frank C's Health and Education Party aspirations. I'd vote for that. Pity I could not be there to help this year. Frank's sense of humour and social equilibrium would have brightened a frustrating day!
Heather Tobias, Wonthaggi