Australians cast votes at polar station
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