Having our say on the same day: it’s a pity we’re not all doing it together in suffrage city

by | May 10, 2022 | Lobbyland

Voting began on Monday, with 280,000 Australians exercising their democratic right, up from 120,000 on the first day in 2019.

Early voting is a right afforded to those who provide a good reason why they will be unavailable to perform the task on polling day. Work, travel and hospital treatment are among the valid reasons. The Australian Electoral Commission takes those reasons on trust. It does not press the point too hard. 

The continuing pandemic will have made many people wary of a crowded school hall. But what about the rest? Scott Morrison will hope it’s not because people are beyond persuasion, as they were the last time an election was held after a ‘‘miracle’’ victory.

 In 1996 Australians were ‘‘waiting on their verandas with baseball bats’’ (as Queensland Labor premier Wayne Goss put it), determined to cast out Paul Keating after 13 years of Labor rule. Keating, like Morrison in 2019, had won an ‘’unwinnable’’ election because the public felt the opposition would be even worse. They were determined not to repeat the mistake.

It’s a pity Anthony Albanese isn’t inclined to defend the great communal ritual. There’s nothing like having our say on the same day. On ABC radio on Tuesday, Albanese said simply: ‘’It’s changed now.’’ Not a good change, alas.

Mark Sawyer is a journalist with Michael West Media. He has extensive experience in print and digital media in Sydney, Melbourne and rural Australia.

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