Starting late, just on dark, I cart a 40 something couple from Rozelle to Fox Studios. They’re off to see the circus. I’ve often wondered - is a circus with no animals, a circus... No matter, they’re definitely not going to the Sleaze Ball !
For him (he does all the talking) the difference between the parties is, ‘not so much specific but an overall management difference’. Then in a breathtaking contradiction, nominates the economy as why he’ll be voting for the Coalition. ‘Too many people consider good economic conditions are automatic’, he states, ‘especially salary earners. You see them on the buses and trains, going to and from work, or in their offices looking like robots. They don’t think’...
He’s different, this bloke. I wonder if Liberals could be credited with our robust economy, or is it a result of Keating’s structural changes. ‘Whilst the foundations for our economy was put in place by Labor,’ he answers, ‘it has taken 8 years of sound management by the Coalition to consolidate and grow the economy’.
‘What do you think of Labor ?’, I ask. ‘Well, the Labor that’s being offered is all Latham,’ he replies, ‘the rest of the team is hidden. It’s really a personality election’. Whilst conceding Medicare Gold was smart politics, he can nominate little else in their policies to get excited about.
‘By rights, Howard should have gone last term,’ he says, ‘but the spin doctors would have told him there is no support for Costello’. He always votes the same party, Liberals, in both Houses. Finally, I suggest his views would constitute a minority in Rozelle. He counters that it is his (silent) girlfriend who lives there and he lives on the South Coast, in the seat of Eden-Monaro.
At Fox I pick up a retired Chinese businessman, his wife and aged mother. After attending the matinee session of the circus, they’re off to Star City Casino for dinner. He reckons he’ll vote Liberal as, ‘the government has done a fairly good job’. Though he doesn’t think there is much difference who gets in, ‘Everyone still have to work and pay taxes’. When asked what he thinks of the two health policies offered by the parties, he indicates he’s happy with Medicare, ‘When I go to the GP I get 85% rebate’.
‘What about security ?’, I ask. ‘If the Government makes a decision, we have to have faith in that - that’s why they’re there’, he says, ‘but nobody can fully protect a country’. He surprises me by stating Howard is not too old at 64 to be a Prime Minister. Finally, he believes in compulsory voting as a ‘responsibility of citizenship’.
From the Casino I take a woman in her early thirties to King Street, Newtown. An ‘Australian born Argentinean’, she is back here visiting family. Though raised in Sydney she isn’t registered to vote. She hates the campaigning of both parties with its emphasis on attacking each other, ‘They should be more positive and concentrate on their policies’, she states. In particular she dislikes Australia’s role in Iraq. When asked where she considers home, she replies, ‘I prefer Buena Aries for it’s heritage and culture, but I love Sydney for its beaches’.
A gay guy around 40 hops in at King Street for Oxford Street, before heading off to Sleaze. He surprises me by insisting he does no chemicals, in order to dance till dawn, ‘I drink Red Bull only’, he laughs, ‘ and too much of it’. A political discussion barely gets off first base, ‘ I hate Howard. He’s too old and not fit to run the country’. ‘What about Latham ?’, I ask. ‘He’s too young and not strong enough. The whole thing makes me sick and I wish it could be over’.
Three 18 year old girls jump in at Taylor Square for The Bourbon in the Cross. Short skirts and stilettoes is the attire of choice. ‘Howard will win !’, they insist in unison. ‘Why ?’, I ask. ‘Cause Latham’s just bribing people, especially old people and he’ll have to put up taxes to pay for it. Plus he discriminates against private schools’, one states, ‘but we don’t really care about that, cause we’re leaving soon’.
‘Are you guys students ?’, I ask. They are in their final year at Ascham, an elite girls school at Edgecliff. ‘Gees, you really know your politics..’, I suggest. ‘Yes’, comes a reply, ‘we’re very opinionated, aren’t we ?’. ‘I bet you drink at the Sheaf,’ I say. ‘Hey, how did you know that ?’. ‘I’m a cabbie !’, I reply.
A 20 something fella, studying at Sydney University, jumps in at Surrey Hills for a pub at Broadway. He hates the whole business of elections, doesn’t vote due to apathy and so has been fined a couple of times. ‘Besides,’ he states, ‘Howard’s too old and up Bushs ass’. He’s distracted by a missing ‘bag’, barely has the $6.50 fare and alights mumbling incoherently.
Of course there are plenty of other fares as the night wears on, but due to factors of drink, drugs, general shittiness or other conversations, the chance for more interviews doesn’t materialise.