Yesterday New South Wales held its local council elections and Naomi was running in it as the Sutherland Shire Council (SSC) candidate for the Greens. The SSC has 15 positions, the area is split in five wards so there are 3 positions per ward. Naomi ran for ward A, Cronulla and Wooloware. Knowing the demographic and the voting history of the area, it was clear that at least one Liberal would get in, and one Shire Watch Independent. So she had, tied with the Labour guy, a fifty/fifty percent chance of getting in (At least that were the predictions)
The weekend before the election we had planned to do the letterboxing, but Mother Nature decided that it was the weekend for greening up the gardens and filling up the dams... Instead of a team of ten to fifteen people doing that for the whole area in one day, we ended up with a team of four doing that during the rest of the week (Specially thanks to Colin for his six-thousand kilometer walk through the voting area to do a huge chunk of this letterboxing!).
The parties represented in the SSC local elections were Labour, The Greens, Shire Watch, Community First, Australia First and a hand full of independents. Yes, the Liberals were not running in the electorate, there was too much infighting in their party here so they didn't endorse any of the candidates. So the "Liberals" ran as independents, which gave it an interesting new turn: You have partyless independents and Liberal independents.
The people running for the SSC local elections were Naomi Waizer for the Greens, Carl Provan for Shire Watch (who has been mayor for the SSC), Scott Docherty for Labour (who has been in the SSC and says to be voting for green policies), Kevin Schreiber of the Liberal independents ("Putting the shire first" (but printing his A-frames outside the Shire) and well known for his connections with developers), Marie Simone as an independent (her slogan was "a GENUINE local independent", where GENUINE was pointing to local (A-frames printed outside the shire too) but not to independent since she always sits at the SSC meetings between two liberals), John Newton of Australia First (which thrives on racism and intolerance) and George Capsis of Community First (a baptist church priest who drives around in a ute). Yes, that are seven parties going for three seats.
The voting day came, all the polling booths were manned and Mother Nature decided to make it the hottest day of the year... 10 hours in the baking sun is not my idea of a good time, but since I don't have the right (hahahaha, you don't have rights in Australia, everything is either compulsory or forbidden) to vote here I have to find other ways to help the people here to chose the right party. 10 hours in the baking sun wasn't a good idea for the Australian First guy too, who in the afternoon started to announce his party as "Australian Families First" and "Family First".
Despite the compulsory voting here in Australia, less than 70% of the 31 thousand people registered to vote, raising about AU$ 500 thousand in fines for people who didn't show up. Compulsory voting is still a horrible idea for me, since you end up with people coming to the booths telling me "I have no idea who to vote for" and "I don't know anything about their policies". You shouldn't be allowed to vote unless you know who you want to vote for and why you want to vote for them. Everybody else should be banned and be fined if they show up anyway! </rant>
The counting-of-the-votes system is tricky: To get in you need at least 25% of the votes. If there aren't three people with that, the votes for the smallest party get redistributed according to the preferences on the ballot paper (at federal elections it is according to party preferences, but not at council elections). Any party which gets over the 25% after that gets a seat. Repeat until you have three seats filled.
The outcome: The Liberal independent got in, he has 25.2% of the votes. And then it gets murky: Shire Watch got 21.3%, so it probably gets in too. Both Labour and The Greens got 14.0% (told you it was a 50% chance she got in), but due to the preference deals that Labour has made with Community First he will probably get in. The final result won't be there until Tuesday this week.
Thanks to all the voters and volunteers who helped making this election a great one for the Greens. It put them on the map on the SSC as a party which is ready to take over.
Everybody else who is complaining about the same-old-same-old SSC: You had your chance because putting in Naomi Waizer of The Greens and George Capsis of Community First would have shaken up the SSC pretty nicely!
Update: I got into this video about Steve the National Socialist supporting Australia First NSW. At the third booth in Cronulla you see the group I'm handing out in. And the old guy in blue who he is talking to is the guy who got mentioned earlier in this write-up.
March 22nd, 2003. Naomi has just become a member of The Greens, the major minor party in Australia and volunteered for handing out pamphlets at the polling booth. And asked if I could help her in the first hours with it.
Of course, no problem. On the Friday morning before, I thought it would be somewhere in Cronulla. On Friday afternoon, I knew it would be somewhere in Sutherland. On Saturday morning we found out it was as far west of Sutherland as possible: Wattle Grove. A beautiful area, surrounded by bush. Occupied by the Australian military forces. We were in the middle of a military suburb, with names like Infantry Road and ANZAC Street. *gulp* You have to be brave as a No War party to go there... Or very new to things.
When we arrived at the polling booth (five past eight, it was further than we expected). We were greeted by an overwhelming amount of Labour and Liberal posters. Here we came with our two A-frame stands. But, it all turned out nice:
Because the whole day went a little bit different than I expected (I expected Naomi to be in the neighbourhood, then somewhere in Sutherland which would be easy to do by train and in the end about two hours away by train from where we live) I didn't make any pictures. But I got a nice t-shirt out of it!
The result for our Menai-region was as follows (the first goal was to get at least 4% in all regions)
Thanks to the friendliness of the people at the polling booth, the ones from the Labour and Liberal party and the people voting, we had a great day!