Memories of a Booth Worker

In a previous post about the election, I mentioned the people you see at the polling place handing out How-to-Vote cards. What kind of people give up their Saturday to do this seemingly boring and thankless job?

A long time ago, in a suburb far, far away from here, I was one of those people. I can’t recall exactly when I first did it but it would have been some time in the 1980s and as surprising as it may seem today I did it for the Liberal Party. I was a Liberal voter in those days and for a few years even a member of the party. In my defence, they were not such a right-wing party then as they are today.

I think that the first time I helped out was outside of my own electorate, the mother of a friend of mine was involved in the party and she asked or maybe I offered to help out on election day. Prior to 1984, the names of political parties did not appear on ballot papers so it actually was useful to have a card to look at if you were not certain who some of the candidates were.

I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about it the first time I went but I found that it was mostly a positive experience every time I did it and not always for the reason you might expect.

Liberal How-to-Vote, Divisions of Melbourne and Melbourne Ports
It was quite interesting to see how people would react as they arrived at the polling place. Some made it quite obvious who they were voting for or who they were not voting for by their treatment of the volunteers. Some would very pointedly refuse to take a card from one party or make a big deal of taking one from another. Others would hurry past trying not to make eye contact with any of us. Some people would take a card from everyone, either to be polite or so there would be no clue to their intentions, while others would politely refuse, saying that they had brought one from home or that they already knew how they were voting. The vast majority of them were civil, at least in my experience. I don’t know if other volunteers had people who were rude to them. I daresay it did happen. Although people were not as waste conscious back then quite a few did come back to us after voting and return the cards to be reused rather than throwing them away.

During the 1990s I worked at my local polling booth in Hallett Cove a couple of times. That was always interesting because I would see people I knew. I never made a big issue of my political leanings so probably seeing me there wearing blue was the first time some of them knew which way I voted. The only negative experience from those years was actually not at the polls but when  I was letterbox dropping for a local candidate that David and I knew quite well. A workmate of David’s who lived near us commented that he was surprised that David let me volunteer for the Liberal party. I was more offended that he thought that my husband had a right to tell me who I should support. David put him straight about that anyway.
Labor How-to-Vote, Division of Melbourne

One of the things that I did not expect was that the volunteers who were working for the different candidates would get along so well together. The two larger parties usually had a team of volunteers that changed throughout the day but the smaller ones often only had one or two people. Sometimes when those people took a break they would leave their box of voting cards unattended but one of the volunteers from the other parties would nearly always point it out to incoming voters in case they wanted one.

It was a friendly atmosphere, a bit of good-natured banter but also some good discussions between opposing factions which never got nasty. I enjoyed listening in on those.  One of my favourite memories is from that first time. It was a wet miserable day and a couple of the people handing out the Labor cards decided to get some hot chips which they shared with my friend and me.  Maybe it was because we were young but it was a nice gesture.

I found this photo online showing a group shot of volunteers from each party at a Victorian polling place during the 2016 election so it seems that it’s not so uncommon even today.

Group photo: ALP, Greens, Liberal and AJP booth workers with Liberal candidate Kevin Hong - Fawkner #Wills2016 #Ausvotes
Group photo: ALP, Greens, Liberal and AJP booth workers with Liberal candidate Kevin Hong – Fawkner #Wills2016 #Ausvotes Photo by John Englart (Takver) sourced from Flickr Attribution CC BY- SA 2.0

At the end of the day, you hoped your candidate would win but aside from the feeling of being a part of something I also felt hopeful that if we, the rank and file, could see the other’s point of view then maybe the politicians could as well. Some do, there are politicians who will put party politics aside to work for the greater good but sadly these days not as much as they should.

Further Reading:

http://www.prsa.org.au/htv_cards.htm

Protest Central – Hobart

The lawns in front of Parliament House in Hobart are Protest Central as they are a convenient place for people to gather to express their displeasure over anything from unfair taxes to destroying our environment. On a recent Saturday afternoon I wandered over there to get away from the crowds at Salamanca and my attention was grabbed by dolls and toys hanging from the trees and then by a sign that said “You are not welcome here.” I stopped to see what was going on and discovered that it was a protest about keeping asylum seekers in offshore detention centres. This is a very contentious subject here as there are children involved. Now I know that for developed countries this is perceived as a big problem whether it be Mexicans trying to enter the USA, middle eastern refugees in Europe or Iranians, Afghani’s or Sri Lankans trying to come to Australia . I’m not going to make a political post out of this but just say that if something terrible happened in Australia and we had to flee for our lives I hope that the countries that we arrived in would be kinder to us than we have been to these people on Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island.

The other protest was about clear felling at Lapoinya Forest in the northwest of Tasmania. A lot of the forestry issues here are about logging old growth forest. Lapoinya is regrowth but the issue is protecting wildlife in particular the freshwater crayfish,  endangered Tasmanian Devils and quolls. I am not opposed to all logging.  I don’t think that we should be cutting down old growth forests and I am concerned about the impact on wildlife. The Tasmanian Devils have had enough to contend with the past few years with the facial tumour disease that has killed so many of them. I do worry about logging because once the trees and animals are gone you can’t get them back and I would hate to think we were destroying the forests for the sake of woodchips, Furniture, building materials and even fuel but not woodchips. That’s just my opinion though and I am not pushing it onto anyone else.

Here is some film of a spotted quoll.

Daily Prompt: Overload Alert

We all need “Wombat Days” sometimes

 

A235, Ballarat Wildlife Park, Ballarat, Australia, wombats, 2007.JPG
A235, Ballarat Wildlife Park, Ballarat, Australia, wombats, 2007” by Brian W. SchallerOwn work. Licensed under FAL via Wikimedia Commons.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein
Do you agree?

I don’t know about our common sense but I do often feel that I just don’t want to hear any more bad news and forsake watching it on TV for reruns of “Time Team”.

I don’t suppose that the world is any worse now than it ever was but we hear more about it. All day long we’re bombarded with information. Television, radio, social media, emails we just can’t get away from it. Well, not very easily anyway.

During the past year I’ve often felt that those in government have lost their common sense if they ever had any. I know that most politicians don’t live in the real world but I’m baffled by some of the decisions that have been made and can see no common sense in them at all. I think that it’s good to be able to access information that will help you make a decision or form an opinion but so much of what we get is not helpful. The news media is often biased in one direction or another and a lot of what people read as fact is actually opinion. It’s hard to know what the truth really is when instead of facts we get slogans and soundbites, personality politics and scare tactics. No wonder people are confused.

We also get overwhelmed with trivia to the point where the real news is just a tiny fraction of the information that we get thrown at us every day.  I screen most of it out as I don’t feel that I need to know the latest celebrity gossip, fad or luxury holiday destination. I can only take so much of war, famine and injustice in one day too. I know it’s  happening and I do care but I can’t be thinking about it all the time or I would never be happy.

The other day my sister and I were talking to a lady who told us that sometimes she had “Wombat Days” where she would drive out of  town to a lonely spot where there was no phone reception just so that she could be completely alone to recharge her batteries. We understood what she meant. While it’s good to know that we can travel but still instantly talk to family and friends, call for help if we need it and keep up with the news it does mean that we can’t as easily escape the things that annoy or upset us.

Great Lake, Tasmania.jpg
Great Lake, Tasmania” by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I do still think that the internet is a marvellous means of learning more about the world and accessing news quickly but I think that we all need to be careful to geta balanced diet of information. We should investigate the claims that our leaders make by reading what the real experts in the fields of science, education and economics have to say. If we read a right-wing article let’s seek out something that gives the opposing view. Too much gossip is as bad for you as too much cake. We should take the time to learn about what’s going on elsewhere in the world but not to the point where it makes us too miserable to get out of bed. And every now and then have a Wombat Day.

#marchinaugust Hobart

Today I attended the Hobart march to protest against the policies of our federal government. As we are not allowed to march in the streets in Hobart the group formed in Princes Park at Battery Point and walked along the footpath and Salamanca Lawns with marshals on hand to make sure we didn’t disrupt the traffic or get run over crossing the few roads. We reached the Parliament House lawn where we were greeted by the Unions Choir singing very appropriately “Lean on Me”. Our government believes that many of us are “leaners” not “lifters”. As the song says we are all leaners sometimes  and that is how it should be. That is the Australia we want to live in.

The march was peaceful and we had four speakers with interesting things to say. We also had more music from local musicians with original songs. Protest songs are not dead! As with the previous march there was a good cross section of ages from students, families with children and older people not to mention a few dogs.

Below are some of the images from today’s march.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lyrics for “Lean On Me” – Bill Withers

Signs Of The Times

#marchinmarch Hobart

Images from today’s march in Hobart.

I first heard about the March in March when reading Victoria Rollinson’s blog. I decided to find out if there was to be a march in Tasmania and although I’ve never attended any kind of protest in my life I felt that I must go. My recent pessimism about the future has been brought on largely by the actions of the current federal government since taking power last year as well as my fear that a right-wing conservative state government would make matters worse.

I’m not a member of any particular party and don’t believe any one of them has all the answers but I do want a kinder, more compassionate government than the one we have now. And by the way where is the spare planet Tony? (see last photo.)

image Not In My Name #marchinmarch Hobart
Or mine Tony.

image Not Happy Jan #marchinmarch Hobart

Image Give Us Our Country Back #marchinmarch Hobart
One of the larger and more colourful signs.
Image "Dog's Breakfast" #marchinmarch Hobart
I wouldn’t feed them to a dog.
image Parliament House
Rally at Parliament House
image Nick McKim #marchinmarch Hobart
Face In The Crowd. Greens Leader Nick McKim.
image media conference #marchinmarch Hobart
After rally press conference.

I’m not just being a sore loser

I’m not just being a sore loser. I really believe that Rupert Murdoch through his media outlets probably influenced the outcome of the election. Newspapers are meant to report the facts. Opinion pieces are fine but not on page one in glaring capitals.

Why have we all been made to feel that Australia was on the brink of economic disaster? Yes there are a lot of things in the country that need fixing but when isn’t there?  Can anybody remember a time when we weren’t asking for better schools, hospitals, roads etc? I can’t and I’m not young.

Regardless of which political party you choose to support everyone deserves to get the information they need to make an informed decision. This election has been more like one of those terrible reality TV shows. It’s all been about personalities.

I have included a link to the online petition Complaint Against News Corp. Please read it. I won’t say sign it because that’s up to you but reading it can’t hurt can it?

Complaint Against News Corp Australia Petition | GoPetition

That’s my Rant for today. I could say a lot more but I’m too cross right now.