Opinion

Do you follow ‘how to vote’ cards?

By Shepparton News

Red-hot favourite to take the honours in the eight-way contest for our newly-named federal lower house seat of Nicholls is National Party incumbent Damian Drum. Why, you ask?

Well of course he currently holds the seat. Not only that but he’s a likeable chap — well known in footy circles, as a former Victorian parliamentarian for 14 years in a constituency somewhat common to Nicholls.

He’s backed by a strong political machine. As well, he has drawn the coveted ‘poll position’ on top of the card — picking up the popular ‘‘donkey vote’’.

What more could a candidate ask? Besides, Drum is part of a well-known local country family with a strong rural network.

He’s a tough opponent assisted by having no Liberal challenger to share the strong Coalition vote prevalent in our electorate.

Not that all Libs will support the ‘‘bush socialists’’, as we’ve seen in the past.

Thought I’d share a photo with you — still currently featuring at Deakin Reserve.

Bit out of date, you’ve noticed? Yes, it’s three years behind the times, since Drum occupied the plush red couch-like seating at Spring St.

Ditto since his electorate headquarters were in Bendigo. Time for new signage, methinks.

Likewise, the Deakin sponsorship billboard promotion for Luke O’Sullivan (Nationals) and Daniel Young (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers) — both of whom missed out six months ago at the last Victorian election — needs to be removed, unless they’re thinking of making ‘‘Nellie Melba’’ comebacks in 2022.

●How do you exercise your vote? Do you take the ‘‘How To Vote’’ (HTV) card of your pre-determined chosen candidate and dutifully copy its numbers carefully on to your lower house green ballot paper, or do you politely accept the HTVs on the way in and then disregard them, doing it all your own way?

Quite happy to admit that I fall into the latter grouping — can’t recall ever following a printed HTV, even after — on a couple of occasions — having been involved in helping to frame the candidate’s ticket.

My method, and I know others do it the same way, is to head up the ballot paper with my first two or three most favoured — then heading for the least favoured few, complementing the remainder in merit between my favourites and my dislikes.

Before folding up the paper ready for the box I check a number is in each box, with no omissions, repeated numbers or missed numbers. Job done.

On the large white Senate ballot paper you may choose to vote above the line, numbering a minimum of at least six boxes, or below the line, numbering a minimum of 12 boxes.

You know the right to vote is fundamentally a privilege — something we shouldn’t consider to be an annoying pain. What really is an annoying pain is the all-too-common punter who categorises all politicians as lazy, selfish, overpaid egotists who do nothing but feather their own nests.

My experience is the complete opposite — whatever political allegiance the vast majority of parliamentarians are hard-working, altruistic and committed. We collectively put them there — we wear the responsibility.

Saturday, election-count night, is always exciting, with the commentary from the ABC’s inimitable Antony Green — whether you win, lose or draw. Good luck.

●What do you think of politicians sporting lapel badge national flag replicas, in the style of Donald Trump and Scott Morrison?

What’s it all about? Is it in case they get lost — like a sort of ‘‘return to sender’’? (Did you mutter, ‘‘Hope not?’’) Or is it more likely that it might be a practice designed to appeal to the avid patriots in our political constituency?

In truth, perhaps it’s perfectly an example of Kin Hubbard’s ‘‘The less a statesman amounts to, the more he loves the flag’’?

Suffice to say no vexillologist (flag expert) would endorse the practice.

Fortunately we’re unlikely to have state flag lapel badges — too much similarity among state flags.

Our state maps, except Tassie, don’t lend themselves to lapel badges either.

One premier, Jeffrey Kennett, did give it a shot.

Remember those little ‘‘gold’’ (tin) Victoria badges, he introduced — obsequiously worn by Coalition pollies and party-hack ladder-climbers?

None sighted these days, for which we must give thanks.

Australian flag protocols are the province of the Office of Prime Minister.

Can’t say badges get any sort of mention in their booklet.

Shepparton’s John Gray has vast experience in local government, urban water reform and natural resource management.