Australia election: who are the candidates, and what’s a democracy sausage? | Australia news
Australian voters go the polls on Saturday in an election that pits a centre-right coalition government, led by the prime minister, Scott Morrison, against Labor, led by Bill Shorten. Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and Richard Di Natale are the other party leaders profiled below.
The leader of the centre-right Liberal party comes from the conservative southern suburbs of Sydney. He is known for his “daggy dad” persona, a preponderance for wearing baseball caps, and a tendency to overuse Australianisms such as fair dinkum, for example, “fair dinkum energy”, by which he means energy created by fossil fuels.
Before being elected to parliament in 2007, Morrison was the director of Tourism Australia. He oversaw the widely-mocked “Where the bloody hell are you?” advertising campaign. His stance on climate change can be summed up by an address to parliament in 2017 while brandishing a lump of coal. In a speech supporting fossil fuels, he goaded the opposition: “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you. It’s coal.”
As a former immigration minister under the ex-PM Tony Abbott, Morrison was one of the architects of Australia’s notoriously harsh border protection policies. On a desk in his office, he has a model of a migrant boat made out of metal, with the caption: “I stopped these.” Morrison attends a Pentecostal megachurch and has regularly discussed the importance of his faith in his election campaign.
Shorten became the Labor leader in 2013, ending a torturous period for the party, which saw it flip from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard and back to Kevin Rudd as leader and prime minister, before a crushing election defeat in 2013.
Shorten, 52, from Melbourne, first came to national attention in 2005 when he was the national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union and played a key role as negotiator in the aftermath of the Beaconsfield mine collapse, which killed one person and trapped two miners.
Lacking Morrison’s affable, guy-next-door appeal, Shorten struggles with a public perception he is uncharismatic, uninspiring and unmemorable. His interviews have been criticised for seeming rehearsed and robotic and he is tainted by many voters because of the key role he played in replacing Rudd as prime minister.
Hanson and her anti-immigration party One Nation have been haunting the margins of Australian politics for two decades. While her message of exclusion has remained consistent throughout that time, her targets have morphed according to Australia’s migrant intake.
A former fish and chip shop owner from Queensland, Hanson is constantly on the brink of catastrophe, sometimes by her own hand but often helped along by a trail of incompetent male party officials who have been caught holding clandestine meetings with the NRA and cavorting in strip clubs.
The closest thing Australia has to Donald Trump. Palmer is largely seen as a buffoon who spends his vast fortune, amassed through nickel mining, on vast banana-yellow ads across the country urging voters to “Make Australia Great”, mass text messages to voters, and an ad jingle that has sparked a copyright row with the US metal band Twisted Sister.
Palmer, who once generated global headlines with his plan to build a replica of the Titanic, cares little for convention, threatening to storm out of interviews when faced with hostile questioning, and choosing to spend the final days of the election campaign on holiday in Fiji. With a raft of populist economic policies that has little ideological glue holding it together, Palmer’s United Australia Party looms as an unpredictable power broker in the Senate, if a trade of preferential votes with the ruling Liberal-National conservative coalition can wangle him into the upper house.
Richard Di Natale
The Greens leader Richard Di Natale, nicknamed The Black Wiggle after he took part in a covershoot with GQ magazine in a monotone turtleneck, has given himself the unenviable task of turning the nation’s third political force from a minor member of the Senate into a palatable, modern and electable party that can hold the balance of power in the lower house.
What is a ‘democracy sausage’?
As part of the festive atmosphere of Australian elections, polling booths around the country feature large barbecues, where volunteers cook up sausages to sell to voters.
Elections in Australia, where voting is compulsory, are always held on Saturdays to make it easier for people to attend. Volunteers, from the local school, church or community centre where voting takes place, seize the opportunity to raise funds by selling “snags”, which are served on a slice of white bread, or a bun, with or without onion and tomato sauce.
While volunteers may also sell cakes, coffee and other treats, the “democracy sausage” has become something of an election day institution.
“Australian democracy is not complete without the aromas of a sausage sizzle,” said then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as he cast his vote in the 2016 election.
The official Twitter hashtag for the election is #AusVotes2019, with an emoji of a sausage on white bread with a squiggle of tomato sauce.
The first ever democracy sausages were served up in London this year as the Australian high commission held a barbecue on the steps of the building, which is Australian rather British territory, getting around Westminster council’s regulations forbidding ad-hoc mobile food trading. Roughly 1,200 sausages were sold to Australian voters living in the UK, raising £3,500.