IT'S ON: Ipswich mayoral candidates and supporters hand out how-to-vote cards at the WG Hayden Humanities Centre pre-poll voting booth.
IT'S ON: Ipswich mayoral candidates and supporters hand out how-to-vote cards at the WG Hayden Humanities Centre pre-poll voting booth. David Nielsen

Pre-poll season kicks off with all players hopeful

PRE-POLLING is a serious business in any election and also a time when the family and friends of candidates, and the true believers, display their unequivocal support.

The QT visited the Ipswich mayoral by-election pre-poll booth at the WG Hayden Humanities Centre in South St to have a chat to campaign workers and candidates on the opening day of a fortnight of pre-poll voting.

With 10,000 pre-poll votes, and maybe more, up for grabs the work on the ground at the booths will be important in the final wash-up. The mood of optimism at the booth was reminiscent of the lead-up to the first round of an NRL season where players and coaches are relaxed and all teams are confident they can win the premiership.

Benjamin Hayes was handing out for Greens candidate Brett Morrissey, who he said was the right fit with the greater ideals of the party at a local level.

Mr Hayes said pre-poll was important because it encouraged participation in the democratic process by giving people another opportunity to engage politically and vote, other than on election day. He noted people's concern about the environment on the booth.

"People across the board are really concerned about environmental issues," he said.

"Ipswichians love their trees, they love their nature...and they love their birds and their bird calls."

Diane Hamilton was on hand for Peter Robinson and said the response was strong for the Ipswich accountant. Ms Hamilton will be on the pre-poll booths most days, and on election day. She has good reason to be backing Mr Robinson after a long association with him

"I have been a good friend of Peter's for around 30 years and known him as an accountant, businessman and friend," she said.

"He is honest and he is open. He'd do anything for you."

Peter Dean was handing out for Cr Andrew Antoniolli, smack bang in the division he represents. Mr Dean has known the Division 7 councillor and his family for years, and through his association with Crime Stoppers.

"I said that I would help Andrew out and it is all going well, as you would expect. This is his heartland," he said.

Cr Paul Tully was the only candidate at the booth when the QT arrived, and was being assisted by his 18-year-old son John Paul.

"This will be his first vote as an adult....and I hope it will be for his father," Cr Tully grinned.

"He is a university student, but he is not skipping any lectures to do this. He will be here for the next two weeks and it is good to get him involved."

Cr Tully, who said he was "very happy with the response here on the first day" explained why pre-poll votes were crucial.

"At the last council election over 10,000 people used pre-poll rather than lining up on election day," he said.

"I think that is a growing trend, although I have supported online voting which I think will come eventually...and the days of queuing up at polling booths will all but disappear."

 

IN YOU GO: Electors make their choice at the WG Hayden Humanities Centre pre-poll voting booth.
IN YOU GO: Electors make their choice at the WG Hayden Humanities Centre pre-poll voting booth. David Nielsen

Lyn Paff was distributing how-to-vote cards for her husband Jack Paff. Ms Paff is no stranger to the political life, having been by her husband's side when he was Ipswich West MP.

Ms Paff has mentioned the word "holiday", with a smile, a few times when talking to the QT about her husband's decision to enter the race at the age of 79. If he wins there will be no holiday for a while, but Ms Paff is right behind him.

"I am so happy that he has going to do this," she said.

"If he gets there he gets there. If he doesn't, he doesn't...and I can go on holiday. But I am very excited and we've had a lot of good feedback. I think we do need a change, and people have told us that."

 

SPOTLIGHT: Voters arrive to get their how-to-vote cards from (left to right) Cr Paul Tully, Conny Turni, Lyn Paff and Diane Hamilton as pre-polling opens across Ipswich for the mayoral race.
SPOTLIGHT: Voters arrive to get their how-to-vote cards from (left to right) Cr Paul Tully, Conny Turni, Lyn Paff and Diane Hamilton as pre-polling opens across Ipswich for the mayoral race. David Nielsen

Gary Duffy's wife Conny Turni, a scientist, also said she had noted that there was a mood for change in her discussions with voters at the pre-poll.

"Gary is doing the other polling booths and I am at this one here because we obviously don't have the people power other candidates do. I have taken holidays to do this," she said.

"We have got very good, positive feedback." Ms Turni said her husband was "very energised" for the campaign and, as mayor, would "give power back to the community".

So that's the washup from the opening day of pre-poll season. Forgive the football reference, as the author is also a sports writer, but at kick-off all players seemed confident their side would have given a solid account of themselves when the hooter finally sounds late on Saturday, August 19.



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