On Election Day, July 2, 2016, I attended the polling booths at Sienna College to cover the Fisher region. I mingled with the effervescent Labor candidate Bill Gissane and Greens candidate Tony Gibson and that night attended the LNP function of LNP candidate Andrew Wallace, who won the seat. I also did vox pops with people on the day.
Voters in the Fisher electorate today braved the cold to make their decision about who will be the next leader of the Sunshine Coast region.
A roughly equal mix of Labor and Liberal volunteers handed out cards to voters, with two volunteers for Rise Up Australia, one person for the Greens and one for The Veterans Party also present.
First time voter Ethan Brog, 18, said there were key factors that would inform his vote.
“I’m a uni student and I work on Saturday and Sunday so I rely on penalty rates,” Brog said. “I’m not gay but I believe in gay marriage and I also think that Medicare is important.”
Another student, Michael Carr, said he felt disillusioned by Labor.
“Labor Party actually used to be working class, now they’re just professional politicians like everyone else,” Carr said.
For older voters, it was transport and roads that were influencing their decision.
“We have to really upgrade our public transport system here,” Jan Mclaren said. “I’ve just come back from the Gold Coast and the ability to get from the airport to the Gold Coast is far superior to ours.”
She also was underwhelmed by the in-fighting of the two major parties.
“It’s been a boring lead up to the election. Labor seems to be going on the premise of the Liberals will be abandoning Medicare and the Liberals have been denying it, so hopefully Liberal are true to their word.”
“We’ve got to get someone to do something with the roadworks because in another ten years, you won’t be able to move around here with all the building that’s going on,” pensioner Peter Ogden said.
A minor party has drawn the ire of a young mother on her way in to vote.
“The names of the parties are confusing, like the Health Party, because they’re anti-vaccination, so it makes me angry,” Mather said.
“I feel a bit confused about the whole thing,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of faith in either of the major parties. We have a young family so education is important and Medicare needs to be supported. I find it confusing the way that things are presented.”
Veterans Party founder Jason Burgess said that his party would support the LGBTI-focussed Safe Schools program and would tackle congestion on the Sunshine Motorway. He said that as someone who had just left the Army as a result of PTSD.
“There’s a lot of red tape and politics regarding what the Army should and shouldn’t do but as defence personnel you’re there to help the people regardless of whether they’re your own country or others,” he said.
“Safe Schools is a no brainer and if you want your kids to go to schoool you have to teach them about the facts of life. Hatred is the biggest problem in our community at the moment. You’ve got to put the people first and prove to people that you will fight for them. There’s a lot of people voting for the minor parties.”
Greens candidate Tony Gibson said he wanted to be judged on employment, rail duplication to Nambour, renewable energy and the NBN.
“Renewable energy is the future and the Greens are leading the way with that and it gives people so many job opportunities especially in regional Queensland,” said Mr Gibson.
Mr Gibson also criticised the LNP’s approach to the National Broadband Network.
“If we go with the LNP model of copper, by 2020 we’ll have the copper rollout but it won’t be able to cope with the amount of I.T infrastructure in a normal home,” Mr Gibson said.
Labor candidate Bill Gissane said he felt the seat of Fisher had been cursed and that the region deserved better.
“They’ve had the bad luck to have had two representatives who totally failed to represent the interests of their constituency and this is a seminal moment for the people of Fisher to say we’re going to move away from that.”
If elected, Mr Gissane said the first things he would do would be to establish a department of sustainable economics at the University of the Sunshine Coast to generate jobs and convene a meeting of business representatives to resolve the issue around penalty rates.
LNP candidate Andrew Wallace was in Maleny but said via phone that it was his party that would provide stability.
“We need stability with immigration, a stable monetary system and a political parliamentary system,” Mr Wallace said.
He said that the Labor Party was trying to win office based on a lie that the LNP would privatise Medicare.
“I can’t be any clearer than what the prime minister has already said and that is, Medicare will not be privatised, he has given his written undertaking to that effect, and the Labor Party continuing to try and scare people is frankly appalling,” Mr Wallace said.
(an edited version of this was published on Uni Poll Watch at http://www.unipollwatch.org.au/news/qld-wrap.html)
(a photo collage with other students was published at http://www.unipollwatch.org.au/news/voting-underway-across-australia.html)