Election Day Diary

08 September 2013
Saturday September 7, 7:30 Finally, the day we've dreaded has arrived. It's like reverse Christmas - Tony the evil Santa is coming to take your rights and benefits away. DH and I had planned to work one booth each handing out how-to-votes for the Greens whilst the other looked after Little G, but we decide instead I'll do them both. Don my Greens t shirt and hipster-esque skirt for polling day. Debate ironing skirt - don't want to look like a scruffy hippy - remember I don't iron. Our house is ready, at least.

9:30 On the bus to my first polling place, and it's a little startling to look at my slack-jawed, vacant eyed fellow passengers and realise all these people vote.

10:00 St John's Church, Cooks Hill Cooks Hill is a fairly trendy and expensive inner Newcastle suburb, full of gorgeous terrace houses and people riding vintage frame bikes, so I was confident this would be a pretty good booth for us. As I arrive, there are Jaimie Abbott posters everywhere. Even allowing for the overkill of the Liberal candidate's campaign, this is startling - A-frames placed every two metres along 100 metres of foothpath, banners covering the entire fence, perhaps twenty blue shirted campaign workers. There are only two or three red-shirted Labor volunteers and a single Green when I arrive. I grab my pile of leaflets and set up camp under a large tree. Compared to the bitter winds outside Marrickville town hall in 2010, this mild day is a pretty good one to be campaigning. I do suffer from social anxiety/phobia/whatever you want to call it, but I find handing out how to votes quite easy. I just get into a little groove. It's a fairly good response. A few people seek me out (including two young men I overhear referring to J Abbott as a "lying bitch"), some refuse any how to votes. I'm always amazed by how many people take how to votes from everybody - they can't all be undecided. Why? Do they think they need to collect the whole set or something? No hecklers, denying me the fun of responding.

11:15 Pampered princess - hair, nails, make up and fake tan immaculate, expensive shoes and frock - pulls up outside polling booth in Audi, parks in disabled spot without permit, marches in to vote with her nose in the air, stopping only to collect a Liberal how to vote.  I've been chatting with the Socialist Alliance volunteer; she suggests we confront the woman. I say I'm too chicken shit, but I've got her back if she does so.

 When the princess returns to her car, the Socialist Alliance volunteer says "don't you realise you parked in a disabled spot?" Her: "So? What are you a parking inspector?" and drove off. No, not a parking inspector but I have sent this to council. I've obscured the number plate for this post because unlike her, I'm not a thoughtless cow.

Meanwhile a Liberal worker is packing up some of the Jaimie Abbott A-frames, saying "there are just too many". It's about three months late for that, I'd say.

13:00 And done, for now. Little pottering and revivifying lunch on Darby Street.

15:30 New Lambton Primary School Did I say it was a mild day? It's 30 degrees, it's the first week of spring, and we're about to elect a Prime Minister who thinks climate change is crap. So that's reassuring. Jaimie Abbott is here - has been all day, apparently - along with Labor's Sharon Claydon. (the Greens' Michael Osborne has been doing the rounds of the booths for the day, and I miss him). New Lambton is also a fairly well heeled sort of place, older and more conservative, so I don't expect us to do as well here as we might have in Cooks Hill. Still no hecklers. It's kind of fascinating to see Jaimie Abbott interact with public - she's the punter's new best friend, but gives everyone else the evil eye and doesn't talk to anyone outside her team. Sharon Claydon warm, friendly, expresses sympathy for my bad back. Abbott tells a voter in a Subway staff shirt "I'm Subway's biggest customer!" and I nearly break my finger biting it in the effort not to laugh. The other Greens volunteer (Mike? I'm lousy with names) stands a few feet away from Ms Abbott; she barrels over and butts in whenever he tries to talk to someone.

17:00 Day drags on. Back really hurting by now. Tim Owen, the Liberal member for the state seat of Newcastle, rolls up to spruik for Abbott; telling a punter who recognises Abbott from her posters "She looks better in the flesh, doesn't she?" Err... I continue to be amazed at some of the punters who pick out Liberal cards; a guy with dreadlocks, a woman with pink and yellow hair, several hipster-looking Portlandia types with organic hemp shopping bags. The Christian Democrats candidate is here, and deliberately avoided by many. In possibly the most bizarre thing I've ever seen working an election booth, a young girl who has been handing out for Get Up all day declares she has switched sides, dons a Jaimie Abbott shirt and cap, and starts handing out for the Liberals. I have NFI what went on there.

18:00 And we're done. Sharon Claydon says goodbye to all the campaign workers, Labor or not, individually. Jaimie Abbott leaves without saying goodbye at all. You know the saying that someone who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person? Well, someone who is nice to potential voters but rude to campaign workers isn't really a nice person either. Obviously I want Michael Osborne to win for Newcastle, that's why I've been doing this all day, but I'm realistic about the chances of a Green being elected in Newcastle. I always did, but now I really, really want Sharon Claydon to beat Jaimie Abbott. Anyway, help pack up the booth and home at last to a cool shower and a glass of very cold white wine.

20:00 ABC election coverage already calling it for the Coalition. This is a disaster, but not quite as bad as feared; the predicted wipe out in Western Sydney and Queensland has failed to materialise. Tony Abbott will still be Prime Minister, though. Pouring myself another pint glass of wine, I note with delight that Ms Claydon has indeed won and will be the new Member for Newcastle (and dear god I would love to be a fly on the wall for Ms Abbott's tantrum when she realises all that effort has been in vain - she needed a 12% swing and got less than 3%).

22:00 Tony Abbott is making his victory speech. I'm drunk. The sun will still rise tomorrow.

Sunday, 8:00 The sun has not risen on the east coast of NSW today...

Edit: Not only did she not win the seat, after spending all day at the New Lambton public school polling place, Jaimie Abbott failed to win the booth. Very sad. Tragical.


  1. Oh I love this - such a great insight. I was chatting with a friend last night who also worked the New Lambton booth, but for Sharon. He thought it seemed really hostile for Labor, but looking at the results on the booth result page on the AEC Sharon won 480 seats, Jaimie 304, Greens 109 (yay!).

    It was an interesting strategy by the Libs to choose one seat they hoped to win. Sharon, like Michael, visited a number of seats. Jaimie showed at one. I had Tim Owen behind me for four hours, obviously they thought they'd do even better at a blue ribbon lib seat (they only won it by 105 votes two-person preferred).

    I love that people like us made a difference by handing out how to votes. The Candidates we supported deserved our support. It shows that a ground-roots campaign can work!

    Thank you for standing up for our environment yesterday.

    1. It's actually a lot of fun and I look forward to it. Little things make a difference. I haven't checked the booth results yet - glad to see the result in New Lambton.

  2. As he said himself for four years past, we just have to wait until the next election so the people of Australia can have their say. The sun will rise again.

    1. Will be fascinating to see what they say after 3 years of Abbott!

  3. People take all the HTVs because they don't wish to make a public disclosure of their vote. Secret ballot.

    1. Fair enough but why not just not take any then.

  4. Another great blog Sika - I really enjoyed reading it and hats off to you for the good work. On the HTV debate, the funny thing is there was a girl in line in front of me with three HTV cards and she meticulously read all three of them (beats staring at an iPhone I suppose) - maybe there really were a huge number of undecided voters, but I'm not sure they will get all the final evidence they need to make a decision from an HTV. Having said that, we have always done the same - too sensitive to refuse, and too insecure to take only one - but we DO hand them back to the campaign workers on the way out - in fact the bearded old guy who looked like he could have been my brother encouraged me to!
    Roll on 2016 (or sooner) by which time the ALP might have just got their house in a bit more order - we'll see.

    1. Thanks am always pleased to hear someone liked my posts. I suppose if you need your party's flyer but don't want anyone to know which party that is, taking them all is the only solution.

  5. I read you blog post and after seeing your twitter posts over the last few weeks I wasn't surprised. What always amazes me is how intolerant progressives are of anybody who has an opposing view to them and how personal the attack is. Whether you agree with Jaimie Abbotts politics to say that she is not a nice person based on her not saying goodbye just shows how narrow minded you are. For someone who calls themselves a feminist it seems the only crime Jaimie Abbott committed was to be standing for the wrong party, too successful in obtaining funding for her campaign and being too driven to achieving that outcome. Sounds like the tall poppie syndrome is alive and well in your house.

  6. You've raised several points here which I will address individually:
    1. I have posted many many posts per day on twitter recently. If you're following me, please unfollow so I stop upsetting you so much. If you don't follow me and have been reading through my archives, well I find it a little creepy that you'd spend that much time doing so when a quick skim should have hold you I was of a differential view to yourself.
    2. I have not attacked Ms Abbott's policies here as this is about what happened on the day of the election and my views on the Liberal party are well known. As a feminist, it disturbs me that any young woman would stand for a leader who has such a regressive view of women. There is also the fact that you may not be aware, but Ms Abbott's official campaign poster is heavily airbrushed, to make her appear to be much thinner than she actually is. Maybe she thought no one would notice, but I have heard it said - by conservatives - she's not even telling the truth in her photo.
    3. I'm saying Ms Abbott is not a nice person based on the fact that she did not say hello, goodbye or anything else to anyone not on her team. When there were no potential voters in view, she scowled at all the opposing campaign workers; and as I said in my post, if anyone from any of the other parties was talking to a potential voter, she would barge in and interrupt. She has also been campaigning for nearly two years, and in that time has left a trail of distaste across Newcastle with her rude and selfish behaviour, such as demanding official invitations to dawn and morning services on ANZAC day, not showing up to either, then posing for official photos at the memorial later in the day.
    4. It's poppy, actually. Ah yes, the old line that you must be jealous of someone you don't like (I must be really jealous of Fred Nile). If I was motivated to cut down a tall poppy, wouldn't I go for someone who is actually successful - say Sarah Hanson Young who has achieved far more in politics at a younger age - than an also ran like Jaimie Abbott?
    5. Will note the irony of you being upset by "personal attacks" then calling me narrow minded; but we do know that conservatives are very fine people with jaws of the most delicate crystal.

  7. Found this a fascinating read. I try very hard not to offend booth workers, when I say no to the HTV cards, but I have decided before I get to the polling booth and I don't want to waste the paper. I take my right to vote very seriously, and think through the process before the day.
    Good on you for working for what you believe in, and thanks for sharing the observations.


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