I had reason to believe that a left winger, probably a greeny had caused a ruckus the day before.
The how to vote card which the independent group “Rite-on” had handed out earlier in the week at the booth had been subject to claims that is was “illegal”. The A5 size handout shows how to vote LNP first and One Nation second on one side, with Greens and Labor last. And the other side shows how to vote ONP first with LNP second and Greens and labor last.
Upon my arrival at 10.05 am I was ridiculed by those campaigning for labor, easily identifiable by the red T shirts with vote labor slogans on them, from hereon in the “red shirts”.
“What are you? The afternoon shift.” “We’ve been here since yesterday.” “No spots left.” They said.
“You’re not even supposed to hand those out.” Were the stage whispers about me not to me. I had the orange vest with “Rite-On” badge
Nothing bad really, just an attempt to be dominant so I ignored it. Didn’t even repartee. As I had a look around to see distances and boundaries, according to the Queensland Electoral Act. Which, of course, I had read.
Others of my team (not my team, but the team that I was a tiny part of that day) were already there but Because of the previous attempts to intimidate them and because of the invalid but pending complaint to the Queensland Electoral Commission I thought I would throw my weight around a little.
I had my pin stripe suit on, tie, waistcoat, tailored pants, No jacket as it was too hot, but it was clear they were wondering who on earth I was, handing out cards for the hitherto minority group at the pre-poll booth (Wisely the organisers of the team had chosen to dominate the booth that day and at one point we had 7 people in “uniform”)
Any one who has stood a polling booth knows that there is valid and legitimate jostling for position. As well as loose and strict rules. There was a clear set of bollards that were obviously the “don’t go closer to the door than this” boundary as everyone was behind them away from the door
And bearing in mind I did not want to upset either conservative party, ONP or LNP I set out with no plan. Except make my presence felt and to push back the dominance the left felt that they had.
So I went and stood closer to the door than everyone and just inside the bollard boundary. LOL “You can’t stand there” came the (obvious and expected) chorus. I was on the right hand side of the path, so pretending ignorance I moved over to the left hand side of the path but still closer than everyone and inside the bollard boundary.
By this time I had everyone’s attention. They were all enjoying calling out in self righteousness at the unwitting newboy and teaching him his low place on the rungs of polling booth knowledge.
Pretending ignorance I was not responding verbally, simply doing what I was told. So I then moved back behind the bollards and down the queue. “You can’t block the footpath either” was the call out to me. Knowing full well that they were all shoulder to shoulder out to the footpath and they knowing that there was not a spot except where I would block the footpath. All not so quietly chuckling at me – (as you know I am very shy and was not enjoying the attention of my charade one little bit).
From the moment I got there and had turned the corner I had already picked my spot. I just wanted to let the opposition know I was there.
So I next moved slowly back to the path, obviously to them not wanting to block it. I stopped in front of a fat short (purely descriptive) red shirt middle age lady, one with the loudest of the mouths. I stopped right in front of her. Turned my back to her so that my heels were an inch or two in front of her and made out that was where I was staying.
That was a bit of fun. Her head was behind me and about up to my shoulders and her mouth was in the middle of my back, and complaining (rightly I have to admit) loudly that “You cannot stand in front of me.”
I said, “Why not. There is nothing in the electoral act that stops me from being in front of you is there?” “There is nothing in the Law that says you have a special spot. But I’ll move out of courtesy” (or words to that effect).
So then I moved to my chosen spot. On the footpath. At the head of the line and first to get to the voters. And at a point that they had all avoided because they had as a group decision determined it appeared to block the path.
They had all avoided it and they all thought that I should not be there. Looks were daggers. But the reality was I was standing in front of a labor sign which itself should not have been there on the path except that it was placed over a permanent bollard – so there was no additional path blockage caused by me.
To answer their disapproving looks I said nothing turned slightly and took hold of the top of the sign and pretended to try and move it a little. They knew what I meant.
Fair to say they knew I had arrived.
First customer, to whom I had first access, I said, (loudly enough for redshirts and greens to hear) “How to put Greens and Labor Last” The fun began.
There were many trivial exchanges which ended with the red shirts saying “Don’t speak to me” To which I had responded. “I would not have, but you spoke to me first.” “No I didn’t” “Yes you did.”
6 year olds would have recognised it.
Strictly speaking actual canvassing is not permitted, but somehow handing out how to vote cards is. Not really clear where one ends and another begins. What if you are too poor to have how to vote cards printed. Are you excluded from the political process?
I tried various phrases to gain voters attention and votes. I understand nearly 5% of people can be swayed by this last minute lobbying. Although the multilateral consensus at booth volunteers is that if you need a blue red or orange card to make up your mind you really should not have an equal vote. Or a vote at all for that matter.
The purpose of my being at the booth was to harvest conservative votes in marginal seats so there seemed less need to target LNP voters as they already preferenced ONP. Labor and Greens were not really worth targeting so I hit ONP voters mostly to get their second preferences to go to LNP.
I left the booth for a while as there were enough “Rite-Ons” I think about seven there, and went to the Caloundra booth where there were only a couple. I am leaving names out here but all power to the conservative movement organisers who are supporting both parties in QLD and who are organising and printing and managing their campaign to harvest conservative votes and stop wastage to labor.
Reminder an official complaint was in, certainly at least from the reds, and maybe from the greens. Stage whispers and direct comments to “Rite On” volunteers such as “You won’t be here tomorrow (at the booth)” and “Your cards are illegal” had been regular and were occurring in my absence. And late morning one of us overheard “We are expecting a (QEC) decision by lunch time.
One of our organisers determined that he should expedite a visit to the Brisbane QEC head office to deliver a copy of “Rite-On” how to vote cards to advise them that they were being distributed and to give an example of what was being complained about. This was not to seek permission nor authorisation as the “Act” does not permit or require non-candidates or non-parties to gain approval provided there is no breach of laws and provided it otherwise complies (I do not recite the requirements here in case some one relies on it.)
Anyway the QEC verified our position. It was nothing to do with them and they would take no action.
This information came to me at Caloundra and I could not help myself but went back to Maroochydore to gloat to the redshirts.
Accordingly I had my lunch and went back having “T”d up a fellow to do “charades” with.
While there were no actual groans from the red shirts at my arrival one did not need to be psychic to feel them. Loved it.
Across the aisle of volunteers I said loudly to my mate. “Have you heard what the Electoral commission head office have said about the cards you are handing out?”
He, well knowing the answer, said, “No John, what have the Queensland Electoral commission head office said about “Rite On” how to vote cards?”
I said, “They have decided that the labor party complaints that the cards are illegal have nothing to do with the electoral commission and they will be doing nothing about them. They are perfectly legal and any one who wants to say different has to take their own action because the Queensland Electoral Commission will be doing nothing and taking no action.” (or words to that effect. Great affect as it happened by the looks on the faces of the red shirts.
The Reds waited a period of time and then – for some reason – the booth elector officer came out to speak to them. Not speaking to me I overheard “We are expecting a decision soon”
There were other bits of conversation and body language that made it obvious that they were talking about us “Rite-On” and the complaint about our how to vote card.
So I said. “We already have a decision. They have decided they will be taking no action.”
Still not talking to me the QEC officer said “We have heard nothing back yet and we are expecting a decision soon.”
I said, “A decision has been made about” looking at my wristwatch theatrically “an hour ago. The decision is that the electoral commission will not be doing anything about the cards.”
He said, “I have not been informed of any decision.”
I said, “We had an agent attend the Brisbane Head Office and he was told there would be no electoral commission decision against Rite On cards being handed out. That was over an hour ago. I do not know why you have not been advised.”
He then continued talking to them. He had not, in my presence, spoken to the LNP nor to any “Rite-On” person.
I said, “You are allowed to speak to people from every party. You do not have to speak only to Labor supporters you know. You are allowed to speak to me. Not just about me.”
I saw no reaction so I said it again. I think the penny dropped and he set about putting up appearances and walked away from them to “do the rounds” and came and stood next to me on my right. I was at this stage facing the entry door to the polling booth and way back from everyone else and on the footpath kerb close to the carriageway. I could see everyone and they could see me and he was on my right.
I was talking quietly to him. I had no need to put him off side and I was in a friendly manner explaining how the cards complied.
The candidate for the Labor party of Maroochydore Julie McGlone, had her red shirt on and came close to my left side. She was bending over and taking something out of a bag on the ground and probably was about to set up herself to hand out how to vote cards on my left. (no problem) She was not part of the conversation. Nor was I talking about her. Nor was I stage whispering in any way.
As she stood up she said in a somewhat challenging manner, (which I am ok with but just describing)
“You are “mansplaining are you””. Or words to that effect which forcefully included the word “mansplaining”
I said, “You are being sexist. Am I not supposed to have an opinion because I am a man?”
She said, “You are a sexist”
I said “You are the person who first mentioned a sexist word. Not me.”
For those who do not know “mansplaining” is a third wave post modernist feminist attack work used whenever a man is expressing an opinion adverse to theirs.
The fireworks went off. In a tirade of words that were obviously a repertoire of abuse
Words to the effect. “You are a sexist, racist, misogynist, homophobic, blah blah blah.”
I said, “You do not know who I am, You have never heard me say anything, How can you abuse me like that. It is defamatory, offensive and abusive to accuse me of discrimination. You cannot do that in the vicinity of a polling booth. It is a breach of the electoral act. I am going to make a formal complaint about your behaviour.”
This was in the presence of the booth QEC official who was still standing immediately to my right. I simply had to turn my head to my right. I said, “I wish to make a formal complaint about the defamatory abuse directed at me by the labor party candidate. She has called me offensive names and defamed me in the vicinity of an election booth. I am making a formal complaint to you now.” (or words to that effect.)
Poor fellow did not know which way to look. Of course the whole area was watching and the red shirt minders had removed her away from her tirade. I am not a psych but to the layman she had had a blow out. She was on the phone to someone. Others led me to believe it was her hierarchy.
Unbeknown to me, as I was later led to believe, she already had had two complaints about her behaviour at the booth to the QEC just the previous day. I did not know that at the time and I was actually quite surprised at the temerity of her defamatory abusive behaviour in public. But not completely unready for it.
She did come back at me. “What did I say that was abusive?”
I said, “I am not answerable to you.”
She said, “Come on. What was offensive.”
I said, “I have made a formal complaint about your behaviour to the electoral commission. I am not answerable to you. That is part of your problem. You want to be in charge of me and you are not.” Or words to that affect.
The QEC guy had not asked me for my name or details. And did not ever do so. He was still standing on my right. I said, in a stage voice, “What are you going to do about my complaint?’
He said, I think it is fair to say “sheepishly” “I will telephone the head office.”
He did not move at all. And things were settling down as the redshirts figuratively held McGlone back by the shoulders and removed her from the scene and for the rest of the day they were “a man down”.
Obviously our attention was on prospective voters and I next saw the official slinking nearly in to the door. I said, Loud enough for him and everyone else to hear. I was not shouting but I made sure he heard.
As he was about to enter the door,
I said, “Don’t forget to telephone your head office to report my complaint about the abusive, offensive and defamatory behaviour in the near vicinity of a polling booth by the labor candidate Julie McGlone.”
Actually it is quite hard to think at the last second of a free flowing impactful and loud sentence like that. But I have to admit it was so much fun to get it out loud and forthright.
Silence of the entire precinct ensued for 20 or 30 seconds.
No red shirts came even near to my spot until change of their shift.
The new red shirt shift arrived. Unpacking their stuff and while probably discussing events a finger was pointed by one to a “Rite on” person. In a “stage whisper” the other red shirt said
“Oh yes. They are the illegals.”
I interjected. “You cannot say that. It is defamatory. You cannot accuse a person of a criminal illegal act in the vicinity of a polling booth. It is an offence. There is nothing illegal about his activity. The Queensland Electoral Commission is taking no action about the labor complaints about his how to vote cards. You are wrong and you are defamatory. If you do not apologise I will make a complaint about your defamatory offensive statement.” (Or words to that affect)
She said, “I am sorry. I apologise” Almost immediately.
No further action needed.
For the rest of the day I had an area radiused around me of about two metres, in to which neither the greens nor the red shirts stepped and their fearless leader was totally absent.
Right now the polls predict a Labor government in Queensland because One Nation Party is preferencing Labor over LNP in key seats.
“Rite On” is trying its hardest to harvest One Nation Party second Preferences to LNP over Labor.
They have printed all the how to vote cards needed. But if you can spare an hour or two to hand them out your will receive or maximum protection and support against the red shirts. I guarantee it.