Aus­tralians cast votes at po­lar sta­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

SYD­NEY: In an igloo over­look­ing Vin­cennes Bay, Antarc­tica, 27 Aus­tralians did their demo­cratic duty and cast bal­lots, the day be­fore the rest of the na­tion votes in a gen­eral elec­tion.

“It’s about mi­nus 20 de­grees to­day and not much breeze, so we thought the igloo would be a good place to do it,” said Adam McLaughlin, who dou­bles as an elec­tri­cian at Aus­tralia’s Casey Sta­tion on the frozen con­ti­nent as well as be­ing the elec­toral re­turn­ing of­fi­cer for the base.

Vot­ing is com­pul­sory in Aus­tralia and, thou­sands of kilo­me­tres away on the main­land, con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and cen­tre- left La­bor op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten were mak­ing their fi­nal pitches to vot­ers yes­ter­day. Opin­ion polls pub- lished have the race too close to call.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the cam­paign has not come to Antarc­tica, where the last con­tact with the out­side world was a re­sup­ply visit in April. The next ship is due in Oc­to­ber.

“It’s pretty good be­ing down here be­cause we do es­cape that con­stant bom­bard­ment through the me­dia,” McLaughlin told Reuters by tele­phone.

Aus­tralia’s Antarc­tic ex­pe­di­tion­ers do not elect their own mem­ber of par­lia­ment, their votes count­ing to­wards re­sults in their home elec­torates. Nor­folk Is­lan­ders, thou­sands of kilo­me­tres off Aus­tralia’s east coast, will be vot­ing in their first fed­eral elec­tion, after a law ab­sorb­ing the pre­vi­ously self-gov­ern­ing ter­ri­tory into the Aus­tralian fed­er­a­tion took ef­fect yes­ter­day. – Reuters

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