Federal election campaign help

By Myles Peterson

Behind the campaigning of every candidate for election are hard working volunteers.

As pre-polling opened for the division of Nicholls yesterday, representatives of the various candidates were at the Australian Electoral Commission’s High St shopfront to hand out how-to-vote cards and field voter questions.

It is long, boring work, with little companionship other than volunteers of rival candidates and occasionally a candidate.

The monotony is frequently broken by voters passing in and out of the office to place early votes. Some are polite and friendly to all the volunteers, some to a few of them and occasionally, none of them.

Yet there appears to be little rivalry between the volunteers themselves as they share anecdotes and make the occasional joke at each other’s expense.

About lunch time, independent candidate Andrew Bock buys his competitors pizza.

Fletcher Lodwick has turned out for his father, Bill, who is the endorsed Labor candidate.

‘‘It’s pretty fun, it’s pretty engaging ... we’ve all got our own contentions and stuff like that, but at the end of the day we like to keep a friendly atmosphere,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re all volunteers here, so we understand we’re all taking time out of our day for issues we think are important.’’

Clad in the Nationals’ green and gold, pensioner Ivor Garner said he would front up every day for the three weeks of the campaign.

Mr Garner said it was not the other volunteers who presented the biggest challenge, but some voters.

‘‘Some of them can get a bit hostile,’’ he said.

Forced to stand back from the pre-polling entrance, the volunteers operate under federal law banning them from interfering with or harassing voters, with fines into the thousands of dollars for a convicted offence.

Mr Lodwick was just happy to take part and support his father’s candidacy.

‘‘I understand it’s an uphill battle. We’re just really happy about how people have responded and come out today,’’ he said.