Today (in Australia) the Australian Federal Election is occurring. At the time of writing this entry, the polls are open for about another 45 minutes. I’ve not paid a great deal of attention to Australian politics since leaving her shores a few years back, and I’m saddened to say that of all years, this was the year to be taking notice. It seems that the conservative government led by Prime Minister John Howard is looking to loose control of the parliament in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Side note for those that I’ve not bored this with before. The major conservative party (think Republicans) in Australia is the Liberal Party (ironic, no?), and the major progressive party (think Democrats) is the Australian Labor Party. Growing up it was common to identify oneself as a Liberal (if you were a conservative) or a “small L liberal” if you did not want to be associated with the Liberal Party.
Earlier this month PM Howard announced that even if the conservative coalition won the election, he would be standing down and handing over control the government to his deputy, Peter Costello. For most political pundits, this was not a positive move, and marked the final nail that was needed in the coalitions coffin. On the flip side, the Labor appears to have gotten their act together and standing strong behind new leader, Kevin Rudd.
Of the various contested seats, two were of interest to me. The first is the seat of Bennelong, which is the seat currently held by PM Howard. The main competitor for this seat is Maxine McKew, who is a former ABC Journalist that I remember listening (and watching) back in the days. The seat was part of a redistribution that occurred in 2006, and the previously safe Liberal seat became an less safe seat. If Labor receives the swing that most pundits expect in this election, then the PM will not have to bother about submitting his resignation early next year.
The other seat is Maribyrnong, where the safe Labor seat is set to be won by a former colleague of mine, Bill Shorten. Bill and I were involved in Young Labor back in the mid-80s. He was far more involved than me, and back then I always thought that he, and another colleague, would end up in the federal parliament. After the election, at least one of them will be there. I need to look up the other guy to see where he ended up.
So now, the polls close in 5 minutes, and I’m really intrigued to see how things turn out. The only problem is that the voting is manually tabulated, so it will be a couple of hours before the first of the polling results are in (and in most cases, the results are not released while polls remain open). So this may be a wait till morning result. The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) have an extensive site for the election.