L.W. Lower, The Australian Women’s Weekly, October 23, 1937, p. 13.

I never knew what a good fellow I was until the elections came on.

Now I’ve got enough pamphlets to keep me in shaving-paper for life. I’ve been patted on the back, beamed on, had my hand shaken, bought drinks, and one chap tried to kiss me. I wouldn’t let him, because he had freckles.

But elections are a dull business, taking them all round. People would take more interest in them if they were brightened up a bit.

Supposing they called for you with a brass band, put a garland of flowers around your neck and allow you to march in front of the band to the tune of: “See, the Conquering Hero Comes” — a man wouldn’t mind voting then.

And candidates could make their policies a bit more attractive.

Of course, I enjoyed the gruesome suggestion of being bombed off the map by enemy planes because we didn’t have an air force. And also the bit about unemployment insurance.

So far as I could make out, you just get insured and then resign your job and live a life of ease on the insurance. Or, if you insisted on earning your keep, you could do it in a forty-hour week.

All that is mildly attractive, but we’ve heard it all before.

For instance, we’ve never had a Youth Movement in this country. I am not quite sure what a Youth Movement is, but I know it has something to do with hiking, and hostels, and wearing short pants, and carrying haversacks.

It all sounds frightfully jolly, and I’m sure I’d look swell in short pants and a haversack and wearing a hostel. Anyhow, that’s one of the things they left out.

The speeches could be brightened up a bit, too.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve heard my views on defence, so I will now sing, ‘Way Down Upon the Swanee River,’ before continuing on the shorter working week.

But the crowd melts swiftly away. Is it because they’ve heard that song before?

No, it’s not that. The rival candidate is turning handsprings on the opposite corner. He also does card tricks and has a performing monkey that rides a bicycle.

And what is that mysterious box he has? There’s a snake in it, and he’s going to make the snake disappear as soon as he gets through with his speech. That’s what’s keeping the crowd hanging about.

Secrecy of the Ballot

“So you’re voting for Jones, are you?” says one free citizen to another. “I don’t think much of his policy.”

“No. Neither do I, but he’s a marvellous tap dancer, and he plays the concertina something wonderful.”

“Oh, I didn’t wait for that. I’m voting for the chap — I forget which party he belongs to, but he can keep eight billiard balls in the air at once.”

“Did you notice the little table he had? All done up with balloons and they gave you a cream cake with each How To Vote card.”

“I hear they’re going to put on a special election for the Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations.”

“That WILL be nice! You know, I used to hate elections, I could never take any interest in them. What with the trouble of getting on the roll, and they always WILL hold elections on a race day. Of course, it’s different now. I wouldn’t miss one for worlds.”

“It’s a great idea having the pubs open, isn’t it? Although if you haven’t voted you can’t get in. I saw poor Bill Jackson hanging around outside the hotel with the most PATHETIC look on his face. He’d forgotten to get on the roll, so they wouldn’t let him in.”

“Well, it’ll teach him to take more interest in the country’s welfare this time.”

“My word! A man’s got to. It’s in his own interests.”

“Too right it is! Who are you voting for?”

“I forget now. I’ll just put down one, two, three, four, starting from the top.”

“That’s what I’m doing. It’s surprising how long some people take to cast their vote. Last election I waited ten minutes for a man who was sucking away at the pencil and frowning at his ballot paper, and at last he turned around and said to me, ‘How do you spell rotten?’

“Did you tell him?”

“Certainly not! Where would the secrecy of the ballot be if people started giving away information like that!”

“I never thought of that. You know, it’s a great privilege to have a vote. Our fathers fought and died for it.”

“Did they? I’ve often wondered what happened to my old man. Mother would never tell me.”

“When do the new members start work?”

“They’ve got to be sworn in first. After that they’re just sworn at until their term expires.”

“Well, I hope we’ll get a good team this time. Unemployment is going to vanish, I’m told.”

“So I believe. I suppose a man will be working that much overtime he’ll be lucky to get any sleep.”

“Well, we’ll have to put up with it, I suppose. Damn this prosperity!”