I know federal elections on the other side of the world fade into planetary insignificance in the face of brexit, but we have to live with the consequences of this election, so we need to vote, even if the lead up has been well-characterised thus by one of my Australian friends: “We are in pre-polling mode here, with pork-barrelling the favourite sport and promises promises promises for the best sporting facilities and cuts to corporate whatsits and giveaways to everybody – jobs and growth and promises for the future and it will all be the same as it has always been only more so and worse. The level of political debate has collapsed into a rambling stroll through vague impressions of rhetorical nonsense and mouths and words not matching the eyes that show the truth and the fear of losing. It is horrible! The press is vile, with commentators having an authority that implies knowledge and credibility.” Preliminary pleasure that Turnbull’s gravitas had replaced Abbot’s ridiculous cockiness is soon disappointed, as we are dished up more of the same – turn back the boats: Muslims are terrorists: climate change doesn’t matter.
Still, we need to vote. So we make our way to the Australian embassy, sign in, hand over our phones and cameras, and enter a room to make our mark on the ballot paper. At least this time I don’t have my laborious list of 151 candidates in order of merit confiscated along with my iPad: the senate voting has been simplified and I only have to mark 1-6 above the line or 1-12 below the line -unless I choose to vote 1-151. At least with the reformed voting I don’t have to agonise over how I can put 140 candidates in the last spot.
It’s all over very quickly. The charming returning officer tells us that two ballot boxes have already been filled, and we return to ul Nowogrodzka, and things that give us pleasure: eating houses advertised by green bikes; the overpowering smell of lime blossom, not in parkland but in that monstrous survival from the communist era, Plac Konstitucyi; and market stalls throbbing with the colour of fresh fruit and vegetables.