The Beagle Editor,
Being an early adopter and hoping to be well informed I ventured out to Old Parliament House to walk through the halls and chambers of the Museum of Australian Democracy and also to vote – more on that later.
Unfortunately some misguide individual decided he did not like this symbol of democracy so tried to burn the house down. I was not able to stand on the very spot when the Governor General dismissed a sitting Prime Minister for misleading the people (my take on events) I had to use the side entrance.
Now the Old Parliament House building is filled with history and reminders of our glorious past with a whole area dedicated to the freedom of the press and the role journalist played in keeping the past governments to account.
Did you know Parliamentary debates were live streamed via radio to the nation started in 1946. Australia was the second Commonwealth parliament (after New Zealand, in 1936) to commence regular live radio broadcast of its proceedings.
“The Parliamentary Committee concluded that the broadcasts played an important part in the political education of the people, enabling them to be better informed on the positive and negative sides of public questions and thereby ensuring more effective functioning of the democratic system of government.”
An observation our local Council should note.
Unfortunately the early polling station at old Parliament House was closed for the day so I had to traipse off to the commercial hub of the nation to “cast my vote”. The process is interesting besides being bombarded by people trying to influence my right by offering different coloured pieces of paper at me.
I enter, answer a few simple questions:
Why now (I am going to be sick on the 21st)
Have I vote previously in this election – no.
Then the really hard question: What is your name?
At which time the person types that into a computer – and then the next question: What is my address? OK, I got those right.
Now the magic of the ACT electoral system: The gentleman presses the return button on his computer and outcomes a green voting ballot sheet from the printer right next to him. Not only is it the correct electorate for me but has the names of the candidate on it in a random order. The ACT uses the Robson Rotation system which is a process of rotating candidate names within the ballot sheet so that favoured (top and bottom) positions are shared equally between all candidates.
So, off I go, with my never to be used again short pencil and write the numbers in the blocks on the green sheet and then turn to the big white sheet. Why is one down and the other across? At which point I select one of the coloured pieces of paper handed to me at the entrance and in my case it was easy, just 2 numbers were specified and the rest was up to me. How democratic. I will have to wait for the final whistle to see if my candidate crosses the line and scores.
Almost all done, now I proceed to do the “casting”. I push the green sheet into the box and then fold the long white one and stuff that down the shoot. No electronic voting machines in this country. Finished. OK, where is the sausage sizzle which was the reason I came to go through this process? Sorry we are not allowed to make smoke in this area and any way that only happens on the actual polling day. Bugger!
Then I remember the saying “vote early and vote often” so Saturday 21 May here I come…. I want my sausage.
Harry the Early Voter
NOTE: it is illegal to vote twice - enjoying an election sausage does not require proof of eligibility or verification that you haven't already voted elsewhere.