Reports are coming in of higher booth tensions than usual on Saturday.


A subscriber writes:

Apparently
there were a series of rather acrimonious clashes in Sydney seats
between the Liberals and Liberals for Forests at the polling booths on
Saturday, which centred around the Liberals accusing LFF helpers of
being a Labor front.

Indeed, the LFF candidate for Greenway
is Julie-Anne Houltan, who is, or at least was, a solicitor for the
MUA. There are rumours floating around about the LFF in NSW being
propped-up by the Labor Party, and unionists standing as LFF candidates
appear to support such rumours.

Another observer writes:

The
Liberal For Forests front man Glenn Druery may not have made it into
the Senate as Charles Richardson predicted, but he did stop the Greens
in NSW and gave the ALP Parramatta and Richmond.

Larry Anthony is very dark at LFF and when LFF were handing out HTVs in Parramatta, Ross Cameron was going ballistic.

Ross
verbally attacked two of the young female LFF workers and both walked
away in tears. A short time later six Liberal workers wearing Ross
Cameron T-Shirts had an altercation with a LFF worker and police were
called.

A Cameron supporter also threw an egg at one of the LFF
people but he jumped out of the way and the missile hit an elderly
female voter in the face.

The situation is best summed up by this Sydney booth worker:

I’ve
been working polling booth gates for 15 something years now at local,
state and federal level, and have grown very thick skinned against the
“fingers shoved in your face” type of person who comes scurrying
through the gate determined to vote the way they want to – but I gotta
say there was a really strange dynamic out there on Saturday.

Even
amongst the booth workers (from the “enemy camp”) – as it stands you
usually end up working the gate for 4, 5, 6 hours with the same faces
so there has always been an unspoken rule that you “play fair” (and you
would normally even offer them a can of drink or a sandwich out of your
Esky) – but yesterday it was all seething and pulsating just below the
surface, there’s real hostility amongst people, they seem very
polarised and ready to let you know all about the evils of whatever
Party you are barracking for – it’s a bit weird to be honest.

CRIKEY:
Did anyone else spot the LFF battles with the Liberals and we’d be
interested in more booth tales. Was this tension isolated or did others
pick it up. Maybe it was just a Sydney thing? Contributions to boss @crikey.com.au.

The Birmingham bulldust

Firstly,
I can confirm the Birmingham story as I heard two seperate Liberal
Party members say the same thing about Birmingham whilst handing out
his HTVs. Talking to one of them afterwards, he seemed to genuinely
believe it too, so it obviously came down from HQ and no-one bothered
to question it.

I don’t know how interesting/informative
this is but I have never seen (in 3 elections) so many voters who
seemed so set on who they would vote for- the number of HTVs that were
refused for both sides were phenomenal. Moreover, there were only a
small number of voters who only took one sides HTVs – everybody seemed
to either reject the HTVs or take one from every party.

The
only other interesting thing was that Family First didn’t have anywhere
near as many volunteers on the day as I (and most other people)
expected – although apparently they had bucketloads in Kingston and
Makin.

Cheers, Labor volunteer

Michael Danby’s mood swings

Labor’s
Michael Danby in Melbourne Ports wasn’t in the best of moods on
Saturday. Chauffeured around in a 3 car parade of union heavies, he
demonstrated his charm to perfection. It’s reported that at South
Melbourne he abused the Libs right royally, prompting one of his booth
workers to later apologise on the Labor Party’s behalf.

At
Kerferd and Caulfiend he is said to have also got a little agitated and
it got even more tense when one Liberal tried to take a photo of the
arguing.

Tensions in Hindmarsh

The
Flinders Park polling booth in Hindmarsh was the usual polling day
scene – the faithful good-naturedly handing out HTV cards; the local
church helpers running a sausage sizzle and trading table; and the
ladies making morning tea. A good cuppa and a piece of home-made cake
for 75c.

Things changed in the afternoon as the police were
called three times to control recalcitrant Labor apparatchiks. The
“official” ALP helper continuously ignored the 6 metre zone and
requests from the OIC to obey the law; then a “ratbag” ALP supporter
appeared with an offensive sign complete with bad language and
swastikas – this in a seat with a high Polish population! As counting
in the seat continues, it appears Steve Georganas didn’t need to stoop
to such desperate measures.

Sweetness and light in Mackellar

I
worked a booth in Mackellar (Bronny Bishop) for five hours between the
Greens and the Christian Democrats – first time I have ever done it so
can’t compare with previous elections.

All was sweetness and light, with food being offered between camps, jokes, chairs shared, etc.

The
tension was with the voters: a bit of snarling from those who did not
want the HTV at any cost, offset by those who went out of their way to
seek me out for a HTV [and complain when they couldn’t find me] and
even thank me for doing a good job.

Negative reaction for Ivan Molloy

Hi
Crikey, while there were no tussles at our booth (a joint Fisher and
Fairfax booth) there was a negative reaction to our unfortunate ALP
Fairfax candidate who has now done a dummy spit and blamed the party
machine for his failure to win his deserved place in parliament. He
says he will run again and my money is on him (and Cate) joining the
Greens.

Squirming over Ingrid Tall

I was
in Ingrid Tall’s seat. It took nearly an hour to vote. The only joy was
watching the Libs HTV acolytes squirm as they tried to explain
accepting
the Family’s preferences except in Brisbane, where they opposed Tall’s
sexual preferences. Australia deserves the government it gets.

Proclaimers and Appeasers

I
was handing out HTVs for the Greens in the Sydney electorate (in
Birchgrove, a fairly well heeled part of the well healed suburb of
Balmain). Two things were apparent. The first was the polarisation of
voters in their responses to HTV handouts into either:

the
‘proclaimers’ – who stride up triumphantly to the party rep of choice,
grasp the card and then saunter into the booth as if their vote was the
decider.

the ‘appeasers’ – who, frightened to offend
anybody, will take everyone’s cards (including the Mosman-matron type
who drove up in a 5 series Beemer and even took the Socialist
Alliance’s HTV card).

The second issue was the arrival of
some of Turnbull’s loyalists, to provide some muscle when some of the
‘chats’ wanted to mouth-off about Iraq or kids overboard at the poor
girl handing out Liberal HTV cards. One of Malcolm’s Storm Troopers
spent most of the afternoon asking the attractive female Labor HTV
volunteer about Medicare Gold, whilst staring at her breasts.

The
final item of note were the standing orders from Green MLC Lee Rhiannon
to Green HTV volunteers to make sure we have a wash and iron their
clothes before turning up at the booth, and take every opportunity to
gob off at the Dems for turning their backs on a long-standing
preference deal with the Greens, and selling their soul to the God
Botherers.

Michael Robertson

London’s greenies

You
want booth tales? I organised Greens supporters here in London. Nearly
all the Liberal supporters handing out at the embassy here in London
told me privately that they voted either for us or Labor. They HATE
Howard.

Khemlani in Ryan and bouncers in Bennelong

I
wondered if this issue was going to get an airing. I spoke to someone
in my electorate of Ryan (at the Moggill booths) who said that the
behaviour of Michael Johnson’s helpers was both juvenile and
threatening. They either deliberately stood in front of other partys’
banners or shook and leaned on boards and posters until they were
damaged. There seemed to be a squad of younger people who were being
trained in poor behaviour by a supervisor.

But my real
concern was all the stories coming from my sister in Bennelong who was
cautioned by Federal Police because she was wearing a nothappyjohn
t-shirt at an event that Howard was attending. She had done nothing
illegal. In fact, she wasn’t in his vicinity at the time. Her partner,
also wearing a nothappyjohn t-shirt, was jostled by Howard’s ‘helpers’
to make sure he didn’t get within speaking range of the PM. Groups of
teenage girls followed them around trying to hold balloons in front of
the t-shirts so they wouldn’t be caught on camera.

At a Joe
Hockey event, a friend who heckled Hockey was dragged outside and
thrown against a car. Of course, no-one saw anything. Houses with
Wilkie signs out front apparently had rocks thrown through windows or
bungers thrown into their yards at night.

I suspect that if
you went digging you would hear other stories like these. I don’t know
if it’s only the right perpetrating them but I’ve heard no stories
about other parties.

I fear it’s all a horrible metaphor for the society we are becoming, and it’s going to get worse. It’s a tragedy.

Leah

Muddled MUA staff

Bowman
in Queensland was exposed to campaigning of the Labor left for the
first time on Saturday. In the past, Sciacca and the Labor right have
all campaigned positively and we’ve always enjoyed the friendly
competition on poll day.

But with Donna Webster came the
unions and with the unions came campaigning hell! I was lucky (or
unlucky) enough to be captaining a booth for the Libs that was being
staffed by the MUA for Webster.

For mine, the best part of
the day (apart from the winning part) was when Mr MUA was challenged
about the productivity of Australia’s wharfs in comparison to countries
such as Ethiopia. Mr MUA had all the facts on Australia’s productivity
in comparison to Ehtiopia and was happily regurgitating productivity
reports from the latest issue of the MUA Digest. That was all good
until it was pointed out to him that Ethiopia is a landlocked nation,
with no wharfs…..

He suddenly had to take a call…..

Love your work.