Saturday, 24 November 2007

Election 2007

As those with a biological approach will know the photo to the left is of a weasel.

Lets start the narrative off with a quote from "The Australian" at 16:14 on election day.
"PUNTERS have rallied to back Prime Minister John Howard to win his seat, but Labor is still a raging favourite with bookmakers to win the election.
"Centrebet's Neil Evans said Mr Howard's price closed at $1.50 today after two punters helped themselves to $1.72 overnight with two separate bets of $10,000 on the big boss. Mr Howard, however, was a drifter overall after opening at $1.18.
"Labor's star candidate in Bennelong Maxine McKew on the other hand was firmer after after being backed in from $4.25 to close at $2.40, he said.
"Head-to-head, Labor finished at a miserly $1.28 with Centrebet to win the election, after opening at $2.75 when Kevin Rudd took over as opposition leader in December last year.
"By contrast, the Coalition blew like a gale over the same period to close today at a juicy $3.70 after being a $1.40 favourite when Mr Rudd took the reins. "

The Australian (or The Ocker as I refer to it) has been all over the place in the election, and Iam sure some of their writers (especally Denis Shanahan) have hated having to write articles with a positive view of the ALP. I like the article quoted above because:
1 it plays nicely to Australian's love of gambling;
2 the language is very Australian; and
3 it ends with the right answer (I hope)!

My involvement with this election began some time ago when I discovered that our next door neighbours were the local bwanas for The Greens. Of course, I was immedately around their to offer to help.

My first bit of work was delivering leaflets to the 504 letterboxes in the area covered by the Stony Creek Gazette. In so doing I tried to minimise my carbon footprint and did approximately 150km on my mountain bike; 30km on the hoof and 30km in our car. A great incentive for some exercise!

Part II was handing out How to Vote Cards at the pre-poll venue in Queanbeyan for three hours on the day before the election. This was quite good fun: not only were those handing out cards for the othe parties quite good fun (to quote the Electoral Commision Officer in Charge "Everyone plays very well together.") but the ALP candidate - second preference for the Greens - turned up for a fair bit of the time. He was a Colonel in the Army and had done quite a spell in Iraq, so is basically quite a cluey guy. Also very pleasant - as one would expect a politician to be (apart from those representing: the Liberal Party; the National Party; Family First; One Nation; the Pauline Hanson Group; the Christian Democrats/Fred Nile Party; the Democratic Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats).

Please note this post is about Australian politics and as a result makes no comment about political parties in other countries. However, if pressed I could probably find room for: the US Republic Party (aka GOP - presumably an acronym for God Orful Party); New Zealand First (home of Winnie the Poo); the Conservative Party of Canada; and any political party I have heard of in the UK in the parentheitical list which closes the previous paragraph.

Getting back to work, as opposed to vitriol, I opened up a How to Vote station at a booth in the suburb of Letchworth in Quenbeyan at 7:45. I found that as yesterday I was joined by some folk from the Liberal Party - their workers aren't always bad, it is just the elected Members that are a pain in the freckle - the Australian Labour Party and a group called "Your Rights at Work" who are basically Union aparatchiks boosting the ALP. As with the previous day everyone played well together with some amusing badinage, especially when a punter refused every leaflet except one: this was always followed by a comment that "we'll count that one for you". It was good that The Greens scored a few under that system.

The best comment was when a fairly horny-handed son of toil took me aside after he'd voted and opined that "You'd better make sure that bloody Bob Brown (for the benefit of OS readers, the Leader of The Greens) kicks some butt in the future. Especially about that fxxking pulp mill." I said that Bob was doing his best. My colleague then went on to discuss a member of the Shadow cabinet - who used to front Midnight Oil and the Australian Conservation Foundation. He seemed to have some trouble finding the right words so I contributed the ones in [ ]. "Now that fxxking bald basterd .... [ Peter Garrett ]. Yeah that'sim. He's a fxxkin' ..... [ sell out? ]. Yeah thasright."

Right on brother. [Moving forward, Bob Brown proceeded to make some VERY vigorous comments about the pulp mill when interviewed about 9:45. I think he will kick butt OK.]

For the few days preceding the election I had been using "Hi hi! Hi ho! Little Johnny's Gotta go!" as the sign-off line on my emails. This had generally been well received (about 6 compliments and no complaints). However one must recognise that I, and the bookies, might have got it wrong. Thus in a spirit of preparing for the best, and worst, of all possible worlds I have drafted three signature blocks for use as from 25 November.

  1. If the ALP win a majority in the House of Reps: "Calloooo, Callayyyy. Little Johnny's; Gone awayyyyy!"
  2. If the Howard Coalition of the Weasels somehow get a majority in the Reps and maintain a majority in the Senate: "Oh Woe is me; and lack-a-day; Johnny Weasel's; here to stay; Unless he's later beat; by Costello (that is, Pete)."
  3. If the Howard Coalition of the Weasels somehow get a majority in the Reps but the Greens hold the balance of power majority in the Senate: "Oh Woe is me; and lack-a-day; Johnny Weasel's; here to stay; But it might still be fine; if Kerrie Tucker holds the line."

OK, it ain't great poetry but the emotion should be OK. There are now 9 minutes to go until the booths close , so I must go and get ready for a night in front ot the Toob. Some folks reckon that a broad punt at whether scenario 1 will get a run should be available within 30 minutes after the polls close. If that is so, it gives many hours of boozing before either:

  • Rudd would be game to claim; or
  • Howard is fit to quit

(perhaps I am a poet?)

We now move on to Stage III: the count. By 8pm it seems that pundits are beginning to suggest that Rudd is over the line. One of the questions is whether Mr Howard is going to hold his seat. Certainly the reaction of the folk in the Tally Room is very positive that he is going to get his butt kicked outtathere! Yahoo!!

By 9pm everyone was saying the ALP had done enough to win. I was getting mightily ticked off by the poor sound quality of the ABC telecast, due to the interference from the cheering of the crowd in the Tally Room. The main anchor kept blaming this on the activities of The Chaser team (possibly because of the crap they deal on him in their program) rather than recognise that one of the Chasers got it dead right when he talked about the intense hatred most people felt for Howard. (From talking to one of Frances' friends who was in the Tally Room, it seems that the problem was that people moved through the room as the night progressed and every time they put up a Bennelong result it was seen by people who hadn't been aware of the news. So they cheered: loudly!) The media also for some reason seemed unable to recognise a correlation between the Government's loss of seats in Queensland and their policy of intervention in indigenous communities - perhaps I am imagining it, but the patterns looked very similar.

At about 10pm I gave up waiting for the Squire of Kirribilli to produce a sword and do a ritual and went to bed. This is being written at 6:34 the following morning when it appears that there are now two Australian Prime Ministers who have left public office by losing their seat. It is in some ways a pity since I'd like to see him on the Opposition benches being malicious and wriggling. Who will take over as Leader of the Liberals will be VERY interesting. With even more good news, Mike Kelly has won Eden-Monaro so we have a Labour Member. I look forward to seeing Gary Nairn's billboards get ripped down and burnt.

During the following week the Deputy Prime Minister (Leader of the National Party) and Deputy Leader of the Liberals (Peter Costello, aka Captain Smirk) also chucked in the towel.

Summarising the event, the big picture is generally very satisfactory. No more Coalition Government; no more turning off the sound of the TV as Mr Howard whines; the Greens probably holding the balance of power in the Senate. It is a pity that The Green candidate didn't get up in the ACT: they had a chance to get their votes to do some heavy lifting and failed. Also, in NSW the Greens candidate failed to get re-elected continuing my string as being the kiss of death to candidates I work for.

Finally here is another, very appropriate, photo of a weasel.

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