Sydney Election Update
There are some election related things that have been happening in Sydney the last few days that have been a little disturbing. Disturbing personally because these things happened in a suburb very near me and disturbing in a wider context because when I finally wrenched myself from election coverage on another blog (or perhaps it was wrenched from me) I realised that Iraq was happening just a few stops down the train-line from where I live and that while I rejoice that some people have been able to vote if they feel like it (knowing also that I equally support those who don't wish to vote if they don't feel like it) some of the things that were happening just a few burbs away where a little fractious. Let us just say that the war in Iraq suddenly seemed closer and realer and a little scary.
The first incident was more or less a minor event at the time. I was tempted to post about it when it happened but restrained myself for a few days until the euphoria had panned out a bit. It was needless to say an impassioned day for voters and non-voters alike. Apparently a small group of non-voters had gathered at the polling station to register their non-votes. Well, this is democracy. Anyway it erupted into, from what I have heard, a situation in which a few voters and a few non-voters came very near to blows. It could be that they actually did come to blows but not being there myself I am unwilling to say whether or not punches actually landed. Anyway, later on somebody found an abandoned backpack... and well, paranoia has been running fairly high in Sydney for the last 12 months or so (you should see our train stations these days, crawling with uniforms, it's a little unsettling) so yes, the unattended baggage was quarantined and a bomb squad (don't get excited, it was probably just a few police gingerly opening the bag) called in. Unsurprisingly the bag contained a highly volatile packet of biscuits and a bottle of water.
These "precautions" by the way are not restricted to polling booths and train stations but also apply to our (Aus) postal service. Incidentally. Did you know you now can not send perfume out of Sydney? No. It's flammable. Just a wee warning to anyone who might be wanting to send perfume. It's for our own good though and I feel safer this way (oh dear, is my face straight?).
Where was I. Oh yes. Iraq, elections. So there was the bag thing and I'd heard about that. And then a few days later I read in a local paper (The Telegraph Tuesday Feb 1, 2005 to ebb precise) that unfortunately, on Sunday night syd time, gunshots were fired and four men wound up in hospital with minor wounds. Apparently only a very small group of people were involved and knowing Sydney I would say that's probably right. Sydney dwellers do not normally go around shooting at each other over election disparities.
Some people who had voted felt they had been targeted for being caught blue-handed as it were. Why oh why did we need to use the blue ink in Sydney. I suppose it was to try and replicate elections as they happened in Iraq, for consistency and also perhaps a little for theatrical effect. I wish the ink hadn't been used. We don't usually need it for elections in Sydney and I'm just am not sure the full implications of using it this time were thought out.
I just wish people would mellow out a bit about some things. I mean, everyone has a different view and everyone's entitled to that. That's what elections are all about. Most people who decided to vote did so with trust and most people who decided not to vote did so with grace. But there are always a few who lose their heads, so to speak, and a few others who rub stuff in peoples faces till they get a reaction. It really didn't have to happen that way. As I said I wasn't there and didn't witness events directly but I do trust my intuition and intuition tells me that some outsiders did a little shit-stirring. And that annoys me. Just to repeat, I support both people who voted and people who didn't and I support them both peacefully.
Anyway, lastly. It was a little weird knowing these things had happened while at the same time listening to a bbc broadcast declaring that Out Of Country Voting had passed globally "Without Incident". I suppose Australia is kind of a backwater but I just wondered, well, if our Sydney "Without Incidents" haven't made it into mainstream news then perhaps other countries "Without Incidents" haven't either?
Sorry, that was bit long. Really am not attempting to rain on anyone's parade. The only reason I'm reporting these things is because they seem to have slipped through the cracks somehow and as a conscientious blogger I do feel compelled to fill in the gaps.
The abc say the police say up to 100 people were involved on Sunday night. As I say, I wasn't there. I kind of wish I was, I'm fairly accurate at estimating crowds and I'd like to be able to report a figure I believe is accurate. The Telegraph reported the same figure but I don't know, the police and the telegraph tend to sensationalise a bit. Yahweh, ironic to hear a blogger disparaging IRL sensationalism!
Anybody else got local stories to share? Post away, It's ok, you can be as optimistic or as depressed as you like ~ it's all good.