Each evening, and with the demeanour of a black coated undertaker giving a quote for a juicy burial, we get to see our top AEC ( Australian Electioneering Commissioner) scrutineer on the telly, giving us solemnly the latest count on the last Federal Election. This commissioner is without bias and sworn to total independency as far as his political views are concerned. He is neutral. It is why he is very serious in his delivery of the latest numbers. He is so careful and weighs up the words carefully. If he was any more careful he would just cough slightly or wipe his chin adroitly. He looks as if he practised his art in front of his wife, or, in the case of no wife, in front of the mirror.
Now, faced with a battery of cameras he is without doubt having his moment of fame. Not, that he shows any enjoyment. Remember, joy could easily be seen as being biased. It would be surprising if he did not hold a political view. I would bet he is a conservative. How could anyone not become a scrutineer without also devoid of a free spirit? As our chief scrutineer intones the latest figures, the camera takes us to the room where a whole army of scrutineers are counting the voting papers. Row after row of tables covered with both green coloured and white sheets of papers. It is a very complicated affair, and for those not British born, too esoteric too even come close to comprehending. A bit like cricket really. Far too many numbers and variables.
The vote, and that includes all votes apparently, can go elsewhere in a process called ‘giving preferences.’ In a two horse race, ( I just learned this phrase recently) any vote to another party ends up mainly with either the Conservatives (Liberal National Party) or Labor. Labor without the ‘u’ in it! Another mystery. Yet, I remember many years ago back around 1977 or so, when I became an Australian national citizen, things appeared fairly simple. The ceremony for Nationalisation was held at the Sydney Town-Hall. We were given the choice to swear by oath our allegiance to Australia either on the bible or alternatively to the English Queen. I hope I have this right. I remember that it was a difficult choice, as I believe in neither.
Even so, it was a mass ceremony with hundreds of European migrants. No good being surly, and in any case, a cup-o-tea with Arnett’s biscuits, compliments of the salvos followed. I duly went on the stage and was giving a certificate of Australian Nationality. This certificate is in a box somewhere together with my high school diplomas, birth/marriage certificates and other washed up flotsam of time gone by. It is funny, that till this day I am still reluctant to accept so much that seems incomprehensible. This finding of so much that remains incomprehensible is an attitude of the curmudgeon. An obsession with the finicky. Just because I became Australian doesn’t seem to include me in the welcoming psyche of just acceptance on how things can be different in different cultures.
Going back to the voting. I read up about the Westminster system and the Adversarial part of it. I will make greater effort in understanding that the senate voting does not coincide with voting for the lower house except with a double dissolution of both houses. I will try and understand that some senators run for a six year period but others just three years. Further more, I will desist trying to come to grips with the preferential system of voting. I will desists asking; but why? I will resist, writing letters to the ABC, on why I think a multi party system would avoid all those preferential votes going anywhere accept there where the voter voted for.
I want to be a true believer, an Australian.