Above: Kevin out on his morning walk with a crowd of supporters.
On Wednesday morning I got to meet the man, the myth, the legend: Kevin Rudd, the PM of Australia. I say meet, I was more ‘room meat’ for a press shoot involving Kevin going for a morning jog with local candidates and young voters. No one however had passed on the memo that we were supposed come in sports gear, I arrived at 6AM to see hoards of young people in shorts, trainers and ‘Kevin Rudd’ t-shirts. I looked slightly out of place in my skinny jeans, brogues, red ‘Cath Bowtell for Melbourne’ t-shirt and tweed jacket.
When Kevin came out of the hotel to start his morning walk he was instantly mobbed by people wielding mobile phones to get selfies. People were thrusting phones in his face at all angles – Kevin just had to stand there and smile. Everyone wanted their selfie with Kev.
Below: Cath Bowtell, the Labor candidate for Melbourne with Kevin Rudd and Lola the dog.
On Monday Kevin did a solo Question-Time session. (Tony Abbott refused the invitation to join). In all honesty I have been a sceptic of Kevin since he took back the leadership from Julia Gillard; but Monday’s performance demonstrated a confident, articulate and enthusiastic leader with a clear and positive vision for the next three years. Kevin handled some very tough questioning without even breaking a sweat. The pinnacle of his performance was his defence of equal marriage to a Christian pastor. It was his Jed Bartlett moment. I just wish that we had this performance three weeks ago. Kevin’s Question-Time performance was a reminder to many voters why KRudd and Labor have the best vision for Australia.
Rudd’s answer on QandA:
I can’t believe the time has come, but it’s only more sleep until election night! Come Saturday evening campaign volunteers will be absolutely shattered: the election day preparations start on Friday night with laying out placeholder posters around the booths. Melbourne is one of the few seats where there is an all night battle with the opposition to secure prime poster space. It’s kind of like the start of Warwick’s student union elections, but across an entire city. I’m one of the oddly enthusiastic people that volunteered to drive around during the night to stop the Greens and drunks tearing down our posters.
Come Saturday morning volunteers head to polling stations to do some final last minute campaigning and to hand out ‘how to vote’ cards. As Australia uses a preferential voting system voters have to number every box and so the preferences of smaller parties are very important as they can flow back to Labour.
My final job on Saturday is to scrutinise the vote counting. Each candidate gets to nominate supporters to supervise the vote counting and challenge ballots. It’s particularly important for places such as Melbourne with ballots that have a lot of candidates; 7’s can get confused with 1’s and so on. There are various rules about what counts as a valid ballot or not – even if there’s a giant comic penis scribbled across the ballot – as long as all the boxes are filled in correctly it counts as valid. However if scribbles obscure the candidates’ names or boxes are not filled in correctly then it’s invalid. Once this is all over we can join the party to watch the results come in nation wide.
What saddens me is that come Sunday we could wake up with Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition in charge. He represents every part of politics I detest; he’s in the pockets of big business, anti-union, a climate change denier, and so very socially conservative. And for such a supposedly intelligent man he comes out with some really dumb sounding soundbites. In fact whenever he opens up his mouth in the presence of women – or even just talks about people of the opposite gender – he oozes a dirty miasma of sleazy sexism. For example when talking to contestants on aussie Big Brother he said:
“’If you want to know who to vote for, I’m the guy with the not bad looking daughters . . .”
Urgh. The guy’s a creep. A homophobic, misogynistic, sexist, creep. If you ever want cheering up, watch one of my all time favourite political videos: Julia Gillard tearing Abbott apart over his narrow-minded views
A fantastically sweary, but spot on, analysis of the differences between Labour and Liberals can be found in this website that went viral over the last day. It sums up everything I want to say when talking to voters in such a succinct Malcolm Tucker-esque manner.
Another surprisingly humorous and accurate analysis of Australian politics can be found in the wry rap battle between Julia, KRudd, and Tony Abbott. It then suddenly descends into Julian Assange – yes the real deal – doing a baffling karaoke version of “You’re the Voice”. The confined space of the Ecuadorian embassy must be getting to him.
Finally if the ‘Game of Polls’ rap battle wasn’t enough, I would like to leave you with this official campaign advert for the Sex Party of Australia (http://www.sexparty.org.au) complaining that there’s too much f*cking going on in Oz.
Charlie is a Politics student studying abroad at Monash University and campaigning for Cath Bowtell (http://www.cathbowtell2013.com/about). You can follow Charlie’s updates on Twitter @_Lapsang.