My experience of local elections has always been a bit skewed by my perspective as a Territorian. As they do with just about everything else, Darwinites tend to put the local into local council. Whether we’re electing the caretaker from the Botanic Gardens as Lord Mayor or watching on bemusedly as “elected officials” wield golf clubs and Darth Vader masks, voting for councillors in Darwin always seemed to be actually be about voting for someone you had some basic idea about.

Brisbane, being a little (okay, a lot) bigger seems to take its local council elections a lot more seriously, and voting seems to be much more along party lines than about the person being voted in. I wasn’t really sure what to do when elections were held this week, but I obediently wandered down to the polling station (helpfully located in our church) to perform my civic duty.

I really still haven’t been in town long enough to have a feel for local politics, so I decided to have a chat with the folks waving helpful ‘how to vote’ cards (At a local election? Really?) to see what they could recommend.

First stop was the spruiker for the Liberals. She was standing in the shade with her cards and seemed fairly approachable. After helping me figure out what electorate I was supposed to be voting in, she told me she was there to represent the Liberal candidate, one  Julian Simmonds. I asked what she could tell me about Mr Simmonds, and she told me she hadn’t met him personally, but that her husband had, and he seemed very nice.

… ?

Check out the teeth on those guys...

Fortunately the Labor pamphlet wielder was also seeking shade under the same tree, and he was able to let me know that the Liberal candidate’s father had had a lot to do with building of the bridge that is just down the road from my house. In something of a strategic snafu, he failed to mention any local landmarks associated with his candidate, but out of politeness I took his how-to-vote card anyway and went to stand in the queue for the polling station.

Oh... the teeth!

It was quite a long queue actually, and it was quite hot in the sun. Fortunately I was kept company by the Green Party’s pamphlet distributor, who was standing in the sun and complaining about the heat, but who also let me know I should vote for the Greens candidate because they were offering free public transport. On closer inspection, they were offering free public transport on Fridays, which most public transport users already get once our weekly fare limits cap out, but it was a nice thought I guess. I politely took a pamphlet and she helped me celebrate the fact that I had now collected the full set. Unlike her slightly less enthusiastic colleagues from the other parties, she was quite vocal in encouraging me to vote Green. I told her I intended to vote for all the candidates, to keep it fair, and had a little chuckle as her head exploded.

No teeth? No biscuit

Finally I reached the polling booth. As I feared, I was still enrolled in Nightcliff in Darwin, and wasn’t eligible to vote for anyone. So that was a half-hour wait around in the sun for nothing. But I grabbed some lunch from the fund-raiser barbeque. At least the southerners have figured out how to do that bit right.

I think we ended up with same Lord Mayor we started out with, but I’m sure the entire exercise was well worth it for someone out there. Just not me.

Make of that what you will.




Garry with 2 Rs