Volunteer accounts of election day in Menzies


July 13, 2016

Here are some reports from Menzies booth workers on their experience handing out for Stephen Mayne on election day.

Andrew, morning shift at North Ringwood Primary School

Hi Stephen,

Firstly, was great to be involved in the political process.

My experiences were at the Ringwood North Primary School polling booth from 8am to 11am on Saturday. I found that the Liberal Party volunteers tried to block where I stood, so that voters couldn't get Mayne's How to Vote cards as they walked in.

The other trick that the Liberal Party volunteers did was to 'talk friendly to you' when a cluster of voters approached the polling area in an attempt to distract you at the moment, so you couldn't hand out voter cards to the cluster of voters.

Noting the above, I used my charm and skill to outsmart the dirty tricks the Liberal Party volunteers tried on Saturday.... to the point that I was running out of Mayne's How to Vote Cards by 10.20am and had to call Campaign HQ for reinforcements.

Also, there was no tea or coffee or BBQ facilities serviced by volunteers or otherwise. In fact it was the running joke between the volunteers that morning ("where's the sausage sizzle?"), save for the Liberal volunteers, who only socialised with the Family First volunteers and kept their distance.

Thanks, Andrew

Leo the journalist at Croydon Hills primary school

Hello Stephen,

First of all, congratulations on running a vigorous and effective campaign. Your fine effort of 7% shows just how difficult it is to make inroads against a sitting member from one of the majors - even when that incumbent is Kevin Andrews.

One of the things that struck me was the high recognition for your candidacy. Knowing how difficult it is to achieve cut-through it was very clear from the number of people who were familiar with you that you managed to make your presence felt in the campaign.

As well as the Liberal and Labor booth workers, the Greens were represented all day, and Animal Justice and the Christian Democrats for most of the day.

The booth was busy and there were queues for most of the day, from 9.30am to about 3.30pm when things started to slow down. There was one stall present for most of the day, a fund-raiser for the school. One of the parents on duty told me they sold about 700 sausages; they closed up when they ran out of things to sell.

There was a good atmosphere at the school and all the booth workers, except the Liberals, were friendly and happy to have a chat about their respective campaigns, how they saw the election panning out, etc - one Labor worker, a union rep, told me the mood within the party was "pessimistic" and the feeling was that Labor's campaign had "gone off the rails" in the last week or two. (I'm sure he got a pleasant surprise that night.)

It was very clear that the Liberals were spoiling to cause maximum disruption. In the morning the Liberals complained to the AEC supervisor about Labor's full-size Tony Abbott prop, describing it as "offensive" and "inappropriate". The supervisor asked Labor to remove it, but the booth captain pointed out that it carried the required authorisation and refused. The supervisor accepted that and Tony Abbott stayed.

The Liberal workers were staring daggers at us all day and were jubilant when late in the day the AEC officer arrived to order that I cease handing out our flyers because of the "incorrect" authorisation. The other booth workers were disgusted with the Libs. When the officer explained the regulation that had been breached they almost to a party expressed dismay that it was necessary to carry authorisation on both sides.

Judging by the Lib workers' high spirits shortly before the AEC officer arrived I can only imagine they had been informed by campaign HQ of what was about to take place. I voiced my displeasure to one of the grinning Lib workers, presumably a Young Liberal or junior staffer, something along the lines of: "You're pathetic. You think you've struck a blow for democracy by stopping us from handing out our flyers for the sake of a handful of votes? No wonder people have a had a gutful of the major parties." To which she replied: "Well, if you didn't know that you're supposed to have authorisation on both sides that's not our problem. Next time he might get people who know what they're doing to run his campaign." She then went on to criticise you for running a "dishonest" campaign and not being a "real Liberal". I told her I doubted very much that she would know a real Liberal was.

And there it was. Happily, Malcolm gets his chance to stamp his authority on the prime ministership, and hopefully won't let us down. (Thanks for tweeting my piece, by the way; it gave it a good old push along.) I imagine Andrews will retire some time in the next three years, in which case I'd say your performance this time sets you up nicely for the next time around.

Thanks for the experience. I look forward to our paths crossing again.

Cheers, Leo

Sandy the retired English teacher at St Gregory's

Dear Stephen,

At St Gregory's Manningham, my experiences matched many others'. There were 4 of us handing out how to vote cards – a cheerful group: Labor, Green, Andrews' and self. The first two mentioned had been there all day – as I understood – really heroic in their causes!

They were such pleasant people – and if you're up to your elbows, all day, in grass-roots politics in a no-win electorate you have to be idealists. All sorts of ideas knocked around in little gobbets of talk all afternoon.

And variously

“I'll give out your cards while you grab a coffee/dash to loo”

The young Andrews' guy didn't think much of me. Which is Fair enough.

But there's no point in telling me that Brexit was partly caused because large sections of English Common Law were being over-ridden by Brussels' legislation.

There was nothing I could say that wasn't improper, so conversation lapsed.

Around 3.30 the AEC head of booth came out to see me — and he couldn't have been more embarrassed and tactful. Drew me aside and told me the handouts were illegal, and I could no longer distribute them.

He was so concerned for me. We went inside to check by phone the exact reason, and thereafter I didn't feel it was appropriate to argue the point. I returned to the hand-out point and the fellows from Greens and Labor were really indignant. As I tidied up one of them even offered to walk me over to the car.

Phoned you several times and expected you to be engaged – left messages – and very sadly left.

This was just one more political trick. What's new? Gillray's cartoons on Regency politics makes the same point 200 years ago. But it's got no better.

As this election has proved – every single vote counts, and that's how they played it, as if it were a game.

But what those standing for election – of every shape and size – haven't realised that it is precisely this win at all costs/any cost that has repelled the electorate.

I think this is the biggest protest vote I've known.

Love Sandy

Rob the ex banker at Onemda in East Doncaster

Hi Stephen,

Great effort by you and your team on Saturday and I'm proud to say that I was a part of it, albeit a very, very small part.

You have asked for some war stories so I thought I'd contribute the experience I had at the Onemda booth. With the exception of the Liberal party supporters, all the representatives of the other parties were cordial, courteous, helpful and friendly. On the other hand, the Liberal Party representative, (mainly the one individual) never introduced himself, was continually on the phone complaining to whoever would listen to him complaining about whatever he could in relation to us, including our T shirts, our marketing spiel, and of course our how to vote cards.

He approached me in a very threatening manner, twice. The first time he parked himself about an inch from my face and told me to "take my T Shirt off.. it was illegal” he kept repeating this to my face until I politely suggested to him that he should “F&%k off” and until someone with real authority told me to take it off and explained why it was illegal, we would continue to wear them. He then had another crack, this time in the company of a huge guy, bouncer proportions. They both came up to me and told me my flyers were illegal and that I had to stop distributing them, not quite as politely as that though. Since my defence had worked so well the last time, I again decided to put it to good use and suggested they might both like to go and “F&^K themselves” and once again told them that until we heard from someone with real authority, we would continue to ignore them. Very strange, highly aggressive behaviour.

I must confess that I did bait them a couple of times. The most obvious was when Kevin Andrews was being interviewed by a journalist from the Chinese Liberals, the fellow who kept threatening us/me all day, and speaking in a very loud voice introduced Mr Andrews to the Journalist as the member for Menzies. I pointed out that this was the case at the moment but that it was expected change. You could have cut the air with a knife.

In relation to the flyers, we adopted a similar strategy to other booths, where we had one person, Jo, hand writing the authorisation on the back of the flyers with me continuing to hand them out but asking people to return them when they were finished with them. After having our stock renewed by Chris, who had copied a number of them with just the side that had been authorised, we were back in business. The Lib guy then went and got the AEC to try and force us to stop, distributing the single sided flyer. We pointed out to him that having just one side authorised and blank on the other was in fact compliant, he agreed and apologised a number of times and then left us alone for the rest of the day.

All in all an interesting day although I did not expect to have to put up with such aggression and vitriol from thugs protecting Kevin. I don't know where he got these people from but they are the reason so many people form the view that politics is way too rough a game for them, certainly not a career path I'd follow if it meant associating with those types of individuals. I was an Investment Banker and M&A specialist for many years and as you know, egos dominate deals, and I've seen pretty much seen all of the big names in Australian corporate history in the past 30 years, but I've only ever experienced that type of aggression from one individual and that was David Aspinall, who was Bond's standover man, although I'd have to say John Elliott would come close at times.

Anyway I won't take up more of your time, I was happy to be able to help and sincerely hope that Menzies can become a swinging seat one day. It's hard to understand why so many of my fellow Menzies voters think Kevin is the best man of the job, but then I look at people like Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernadi and wonder how it is that they are able to cobble together the support bases required to get themselves elected. I then realise that our electorate is just as easily fooled as others.

Warmest regards, Rob

Penny at Donvale Primary School

Hi Stephen

I thought you ran a great campaign and the how to vote card saga wouldn't have quite swung the final vote sufficiently to have made a material difference on our booth. I enjoyed the day. We had a very friendly group of campaigners with only absentees being the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, the Independent and the Liberals themselves....they were represented by a team of Indians who I suspect were paid. They were surprised to discover that the system of voting was not first past the post so I'm sorry I wasn't able to achieve a bigger percentage swing.... it just goes to show how difficult it is to shift the diehards.

Vis a vis the how to vote card fiasco....news came through via a mobile call to the ALP canvasser at around 3.30pm who relayed it to me. He was not in the least aggressive and I simply said that it sounded very much like a dirty trick and I would remain unmoved until I heard it from a higher authority.

At around 4.30pm two AEC officers emerged and told me that I couldn't hand out our card any longer because it hadn't been properly authorised and there had been a complaint from the Libs. They were quite reasonable and told me that it could still be used if I authorised it myself on the back of the card and re-wrote the numbers down the side in my own hand. Maybe that's what I should have done but there were only a trickle of voters and it seemed unlikely, given the general tempo, that it was going to make a material difference to the final outcome.

Certainly there had been a smattering of people all day who took your card with gusto and who were enthusiastic about removing Kevin Andrews but the 'died in the wool Libs' were unfortunately in the ascendency. I don't know how the Greens did but I think they'd have out-polled you at our booth. Nevertheless I'm really sorry you didn't make it because of all the candidates you definitely stood out as savvy and sane!

Thanks for all the hard work you do in promoting democracy...it is highly admirable!

With very best wishes, Penny

John at Warranwood Primary School for late afternoon shift

Hi Stephen,

My experience was a little strange. When the AEC reps came out after 3pm, they couldn't find me (they can't have looked too hard - although the line was still long).

The Getup folks told me once the queues had disappeared and we had a chance to chat.

I figured it wasn't necessary for me to go in and ask what was going on, so I kept handing out the flyers until around 5pm when I received the email from you.

At that stage I figured the game was up (and there were much fewer voters anyway) so I packed up and headed off.

The other people handing out the cards were generally pleasant enough. No complaints from me!

All the best for next time.

John

Sally at St Gregory the Great (Manningham Booth)

Like all 8-11am shifts on Election Morning it was a chilly start. I had the company of a 3 other booth workers. A youngish Liberal who lived just over the back fence from the Booth; a young Labor guy who had recently moved to Lower Templestowe from the inner city and a middle aged Greens guy who was a Bulleen resident. The voters initially came in dribs and drabs which allowed plenty of time for banter with my fellow workers. The Labor guy had been at the first candidates debate and commented on the quality of the discussions. The Liberal guy (after discovering I grew up in Templestowe) asked me if my school had been closed/Jeffed as his had been. Fortunately mine is still open to the Public as a basketball/netball centre. His old school was now a residential estate – not such a good result!

Now to the voters who were from a range of ethnically diverse backgrounds and a mix of young families and 70 + older citizens. Plus there were a number of people clearly part of the St Greg's school community. Our booth although deemed a smaller one had hot coffee on tap (2 meters behind us) so we could grab a coffee between voters. The cakes stall and sausages were a mere 5 metres in front of us, also pretty convenient. One booth worked commented it was only 8.25am when the first sausage was consumed. By mid-morning our trickle of voters has increased so there was a 30-40 person queue outside the voting station. A panicked female voter came through who had to catch a plane to Sydney and was worried she wouldn't get to vote. The Liberal guy checked his phone “there's no voting station at the airport, you'd better join the line here he advised”. All in all a very enjoyable morning spent with great company at St Greg's booth.

Bernadette at East Doncaster Secondary College

Dear Stephen,

My story about the banned literature is actually quite positive.

The very civilized Liberal chap at the front gate of our booth volunteered his view that such a trivial objection was uncalled for and unsporting and that he didn't agree (he was an older gentleman and thought that having print too small to read without reading glasses on both sides rather than one was a bit irrelevant). He thought that it was not really in the spirit of free enterprise for Liberals to be so petty.

As the Voluntary Euthanasia ladies gave out their literature they very helpfully pointed out to voters that their “how to vote” was quite similar to yours and that people could just change around the “1” and “2” in the boxes on their ticket if people would prefer to support you instead (they said you were a very nice man and had met you at the Wonga Park event).

No one at our booth was intimidated or harassed (but there was a bit of a crowd of us with the whole family on the job – a sea of blue Tee shirts). Amy was running up and down the street giving out literature very enthusiastically (whether or not people had already voted). I think she even gave one to Kevin Andrews (would have loved a photo of that).

Kevin Andrews spent a lot of the Day at our booth, and wasn't exactly the most inspirational person I've ever met – very reserved. Most of the voters didn't appear to actually recognise him (even though there were posters), so he mustn't spend much time in the electorate. I think you would have been a much better choice for Canberra. He clearly only got in as the representative of the party they wanted to support – no apparent personal following – and this lack of a party machinery is clearly the problem with being an independent candidate.

Anyway, maybe he has learnt a valuable lesson and won't take the electorate for granted as a result of your efforts.

I think that any system that gets Pauline Hanson to Canberra but not you is clearly flawed (not to mention embarrassing). Better luck next time,

Bernadette

Peter at Park Orchards from 8am until midday

Dear Stephen

A fun morning. Those handing out how-to-vote cards: one Green, one Labor, two-three Liberal. All congenial. We got along quite well. Voters came steadily for the most part with little queuing, except for 45 minutes or so around 10.30am, when there was a queue that reached 25-35 outside the entrance. Electoral Office people brought out stacks of used cards which we sorted and recycled. (I certainly needed them - I had actually thought I was being a bit greedy on Thursday night.) I started at 7.45am and left - with no more how-to-vote cards - around midday. I would have stayed on an hour or so if I'd had enough cards. Also, I confess I'm not very good with phone communications - I should have called someone around 11am. Voters for the most part freely took the cards - around 80%. Many Liberal voters swept passed, plus the odd Labor voter. There was some interest in Stephen by half a dozen - ie, we had a brief chat. There were a couple who openly agreed with Stephen's opinion of Andrews. My guess (and this is a guess) is that maybe 25% of voters had heard of Stephen. One or two suggested that the card may have been a bit deceptive. (The Liberal guy and I had a bit of a mostly good natured banter on the subject). Note from the AEC results that Park Orchards got 122 votes for Stephen or 7.85% of those counted which was (fourth behind Liberal, Labor and the Greens.

Sorry, I had to leave without handing over. Did you have someone there during the afternoon?

Kind regards, Peter

Dawn at Park Orchards from 3pm

Hi Stephen,

Yes it was a very eventful day! I can only say that all volunteers at the Park Orchards Community Centre were extremely friendly and two of them knew more about you than I did, and were extremely impressed with you at the pre-launch. One lady and her husband who were handing out the Liberal how to vote cards did not know anything about you at all and when I told them they said “it's a pity we have already voted”. However, they were all so helpful especially the Labor volunteer who was going to put in a complaint about the gentleman who came bounding out of the voting booths and asked “who is distributing the how to vote cards for Stephen Mayne”?

I answered I was and he told me to I was cease immediately. My answer was I was helping out and unless I heard it from Stephen Mayne I would continue. He then started to shout and told me he had been told by his boss in head office to get me to cease. The gentleman handing out the Labor information told him that according to law he had to give it to me in writing and until them I could continue. He also told him he was being bombastic and rude, as he was 6' 5” and I was 5'. He then disappeared. I was running out of how to vote card so all the other volunteers were going through the bins for me and getting more cards. After I had no access to any more I just kept saying “Vote for Stephen Mayne a local guy”. I then got through to Gabi who told me to go home. Sad as I thought as each vote would have counted.

What an experience. Count me in for next time.

Give it to them Stephen.

Regards, Dawn

Paul at Greythorn Bowling Club

They had a BBQ and cakes at a booth which barely attracted 500 voters. Until the arrival of Mrs Andrews, the gate to the north was closed. She opened it and I promptly shut it and we all said in many different ways that she wanted it open because she had staff. A Bowls honcho drove through us as though he thought he had the right to run us down. It was he and six gardeners who acted to ensure the gate stayed open.

So we had 2 lots of traffic and the Liberals could cover both gates. Kevin's son Stuart was a little put out by his mother's booth manners.

In an effort to handle both gates, I moved to the North entrance which was much busier. I waved the papers to traffic coming from High St so they could see me and miss the Official gate altogether. Rude Mrs Andrews stayed around there most of the time except when introducing new volunteers. Mrs Andrews said voters could come in to the booth from wherever the hell they liked. A half hour later I appealed again, pointing to solo distributors.

That's when she bought in the trump card: "the President of the bowls Club wants that gate open too". I think the booth was a bloody schmozzle. It was slow and grossly mismanaged and the club, the Libs and the AEC staff did little to hide their favouritism.

That booth should be shut down.

I was ordered off at 4.30pm. I told them I thought it was appalling and made my feelings about the demand to desist abundantly clear to Mrs Andrews who shadowed me for a number of hours this morning and this arvo. Young Stuart was there too. I wasn't rude to any of them especially the AEC woman, who said "she was acting on orders and I was obliged to comply".


Everyone got along very well except the incumbent's pouting spouse who played sad sack all day.

I think the AEC should have to live with an approved card and challenges should not be allowed once the polls open. It was a bloody disgrace

Paul

Alastair at Serpell Primary School

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the opportunity to stick my thumb in Kevin's eye.

While I've traditionally been a Labor man I appreciate that there is not much difference between myself and "small l" liberals. I couldn't support anything headed by Shorten and his ilk. Chatting to a couple of supporters at the Bowls club reminded me that different sorts of people do the right thing due to vastly different motivations - always a good thing to keep in the front of mind.

Drawing together the threads of my limited and late activity I humbly offer the following commentary.

AEC ban - Kate and Ed notified me about this - I suggested we hold the "authorised" ones on top and distribute the questionable ones from underneath. Nothing was raised to me by the AEC or Liberal workers.

I agree with your suggestion that pre-authorisation by the AEC is a sensible process.

Given your profile you will always pull 5-10% of the votes in this locale. Given the Howard calls, Kroger's intervention etc the Libs were obviously concerned that you might have gained a more significant vote. It would be interesting to get some further commentary from the Libs as to their true state of mind. Maybe they will be more open in the next few months!

Booth workers - Get Up were there doing their advocacy with your ticket on their hand out. The Libs were friendly and generally well behaved. However their tactics need to be mentioned. On handing out the Mayne card with a statement like "Stephen Mayne True Liberal" one of the Liberal's would quietly say to the voter that Mayne isn't a liberal and that Andrews was the Liberal Party. I asked the Liberal what his instructions were? Answer - make sure the voter knew that Andrews is the Liberal Party candidate and that Mayne is an independent.

The strategy of association clearly played to the minds of the Libs. Learning a phrase or two in Mandarin might of been useful.

Was the play right? Agree that it was - I wasn't involved at the early stages of the campaign and can't comment on the broader strategy other than change can happen in two ways, an independent liberal winning the seat by splitting the Liberal Party vote and stitching up preferences from the Greens and Labor. Or by preselecting a more moderate candidate willing to advocate for the constituency. The pissing out - pissing in dilemma - hopefully generational change will bring a more moderate and effective representative to Menzies.

Reach out to the Chinese community should be a priority should you be involved in something like this again.

Let me know if you have a crack at something like this again as I'll get more involved.

Kind Regards, Alastair

Matthew at Bulleen Heights and Templestowe Uniting Church

It was an early morning wake up at 5am which was a bit earlier than usual probably due to the anticipation of what the day ahead held. A light breakfast with a quick meeting down the road with fellow booth volunteer James to discuss tactics and I was on the road at 7.15am to the Bulleen Heights booth in Pleasant Road for the opening at 8am. On arrival the realisation of the juggernaut that we were up against became immediately apparent with the entrances leading up to the booth covered in blue. There were the large scale head shot signs lining the driveway to the carpark followed by the big banners and multilingual signs at the entrance. I had two corflute boards to add for Stephen Mayne and luckily they weren't large scale as I managed to find a bit of valuable realestate on the cyclone wire fence next to Kevin. With signs up, how to vote brochures in a strategic location near the entrance gate, I was ready to rattle off the one liners that I had practiced in my mind the previous night and no doubt by the end of the day would have changed with my own flavour added, whilst strictly following party lines.

The sun was rising over the horizon but struggling to break through the clouds and the air was crisp. I'm not sure how many mid winter Federal elections have been held but booth volunteers that have had to endure rain and wind on Election Day deserve a medal of national service. By nature we were not allowed within shouting distance of the voting booth and that put us out in the elements. Fellow booth volunteers broke the ice so to speak with the only common ground for the day being our wish for some good weather. Would the election bring out a surprise like Melbourne's weather? It was about now that a coffee van arrival would have been something of a miracle but not to be and there was no time to hunt one down at Macedon square as voters were starting to queue before 8am and we were already practicing our lines on the first unsuspecting voters. It wasn't long before I realised what one liners were getting up the goat of my fellow volunteers and as for the "True Liberal" (with an uppercase L) tee, well that was like a red rag to a bull or should I say blue rag. The mumbling of that's illegal and out right dishonest could be heard from the loyal Liberal volunteers followed by direct questioning in front of voters. Luckily I was able to explain why Steve was the "true liberal' after reading The Mayne Report blogs and responded by saying something like Steve has more of the traditional values of the Liberal forefathers and our Electorate's namesake than the incumbent. The voters who were by this time a captive audience in an ever growing line seemed to swallow that and that's all that mattered. Someone had said that Bulleen Heights was going to be quiet but I soon found out that another booth in the area (St Timothy' Anglican Church) had been closed so the line got longer and so did the spiel with voters having time to listen to the lines that were now on rotation like the CD in my car with the family swapped by voters.

The banter amongst the volunteers continued and I think I learnt a few things or at least now have a new perspective on some pressing issues all of which now need to be verified by Google. One thing that I was constantly reminded of was that Stephen may be a supporter of Turnbull but Turnbull isn't a supporter of Stephen. The party machine appeared to have that one programmed into the faithful and I backed off on the "Cr Stephen Mayne - Turnbull supporter" line when in close earshot. Thankfully the voting line grew and I was able to find space without being harassed and the party lines were able to flow freely and by this time the spiel had become quite elaborate. Voters were coming out with that look on their face or a wink that said I voted for Steve. Others simply came out and said it which was probably the highlight of the morning as in someway I may have helped to influence that decision and help to make a change. By this stage the banter amongst volunteers had reached a pleasant phase and we all mutually respected our differences. As our shifts came to an end we were able to have a laugh and wish each other the best in acknowledgement that we had done our best and that it is great to live in a democracy where we can express ourselves without fear.

Lyn arrived just in time to relieve me at 11am and by this time I was pumped but the body was in need of some attention. I now had a 4 hour break before being needed to relieve James for the closing shift at Templestowe Uniting Church, which is my local booth. Driving away from Bulleen I said to myself well that was a bit of a buzz and an experience well worth having. A quick stop at Templestowe to see how James was going and to give him a long needed coffee ended up being another chance to sway voters with several in the line being personally known to me. Time was getting away from me and I was needed over in Bundoora to do a house inspection for a friend so the drive gave me enough time to get out of character and become building inspector. A quick toastie at home and a quick walk down the road to the Uniting church and it was my turn to vote before relieving James at 3pm.

The crowd by this time was dropping off and the volunteers were keeping to themselves but things were about to get interesting. The Liberal volunteer was a family friend and although he didn't say it, was disgusted with where my allegiances lay and for that I will have some explaining to do when the word gets back to my Mum. The Labor volunteer was a staunch United Firefights Union member and had a go at me thinking that I was a Liberal and that can be understood especially considering my Tee shirt had "True Liberal" written on it and was blue. Not confusing at all. His focus then shifted to my family friend whom he called a liar (as in the Liberals) and after that things got pretty ugly before they quickly agreed not to talk to each other at all. It's not easy when political decisions put people's livelihoods at stake and nothing like that to bring out the passion. Then over to the left was another Liberal volunteer whose role was unclear but did not want to be engaged with and seemed intent playing with her iPad and possibly recording our party lines for later use. They appeared rattled.

James leaving seemed to trigger the scenes that were then to follow. I had literally handed out a few how to vote brochures when an AEC representative rather sternly told me to stop giving them out and to follow him to the side. Thoughts of my past flooded back and despite not having a police record as far as I know, my mind wandered and I remember the time as a kid when I tipped water out of a tree just down the road onto a moving car. It was somewhat a relief that when AEC rep then said the voting brochures are illegal due to not having the authorised print on all pages and that I must cease giving them out immediately. My mind then went into overdrive as I could see our chances slipping away with each minute. Simply standing there and telling the punters to Vote 1 Stephen Mayne for the house of reps as they walked into the booth just wasn't cutting it. It was no surprise that Gabi's phone was engaged and Steve's wasn't answering either. We were later to find that Steve was ignorantly blissful to the whole situation as his phone battery had died which was probably good for his blood pressure.

News got out that brochures were being reprinted back at party headquarters and by this time James had arrived to relieve the booth. I don't think I've run that fast in a while to get home and I jumped in my car in a scene reminiscent of Starsky and Hutch. My wife was home and I think I said something like "the shit has hit the fan" and I reversed out the drive at the speed of a thousand arrows. A few locally known shortcuts and I arrived at party headquarters to get the new brochures. I didn't think the term party headquarters was meant to be taken literally and I wasn't expecting to find a kids party in full swing with no one there knowing who Gabi was or where Steve was. I was told that Party headquarters was elsewhere and as I was getting on the phone to find out where this was another volunteer arrived to confirm I was at the right place. I then manoeuvred through the crowd of youths running amok in the rumpus room and to the back room to find the brains of the tilt all there. The smell of ink and burning printers was in the air. I felt fortunate to be given around 50 new how to vote cards and grabbed them before anyone changed there mind and was back on the road to the Church. By the time I arrived James was down to his last legal brochure. I still haven't got to the bottom of how he got his hands on a few of them before I did but it may have had something to do with the email that Steve fired out in desperation to all on The Mayne Report list asking for them to print the brochure out and take to the nearest booth. I reckon that would have got another 10 or so votes that could have made the difference.

We were now cruising with the new brochures and having a laugh with the fellow volunteers but the closing rush started to kick in and we were fast running out. Again instinct kicked in and we were soon shamelessly diving into the recycling bin to retrieve brochures from the back door of the voting booth. My brother arrived after working late and chipped in for a valuable shift on the recycling crew. I'm sure that welded on Liberals were deliberately screwing up the Mayne brochure but that didn't stop us and were even able to claim that the Mayne campaign had a Green tinge about it as we were recycling.

The night was coming to a close and the voters to a trickle. We had won over our Labor unionists man and the Greens volunteer was happy with our recycling and the banter was flowing. Our mystery Liberal volunteer still sat to the side in the shadows of the fading light. Barring the light and weary bodies we would have gotten a group booth photo with all volunteer comrades embracing. The word on the wire was that Menzies was close and this was met with disgust and guffaws from the incumbents. The countdown to 6pm arrived and I was disappointed that it was almost over. What a roller coaster day it had been and one that I will not forget for sometime and recommend to anyone that has an interest in our democratic system and wants the grassroots experience. James and I shot off to the after party at the Templestowe Bowling Club and despite the final result becoming obvious fairly quickly we had a fun night talking about our experiences that day. Stephen gave a concession speech and despite the loss we all walked away after his speech feeling that we were winners and that we made a difference. This may not be apparent straight away but I'm sure the Liberals will now take Menzies more seriously and hopefully we see the benefit in this term. Thank you Steve for your tireless work and the experience. You made it fun despite the fact that politics can be quite cynical. I don't believe that this will be the last time we see you on the Federal front but I'm sure your family have a big say in that. Best to let the dust settle first. And last but not least thank you Gabi. You were the oil on the day!

Justin at North Ringwood Primary School 11am until 3pm

Hi Stephen,

Well done on a great campaign. Shame it did not pan out a little better.

Sorry I did not make it down on Saturday night. Started watching a bit of Carlton v Collingwood, then after not too long, Carlton v Collingwood was watching me.

Thankfully for me, Ringwood North Primary was a fairly calm voting booth – perhaps because of the largely disengaged populace – I was astonished at the amount of people who were not sure if they were voting in Menzies or Deakin. SO no war stories to report.

From your email, you noted that the Turnbull supporting independent perhaps may have not been the best strategy. My two cents worth – I think the messages were great for engagement prior to voting day. On voting day, for the (sadly) large majority who either make up their mind on the way in or just vote the way their parents do, this message might have been confusing at that late stage. This appeared to be the case on many occasions while handing out the HTV.

Perhaps next election, you can get intot he eye of the beast, and challenge for pre-selection of the liberal party.

Anyway, up and ownards. I hope to see you again soon.

Take care, Justin

Andrew at North Ringwood in the morning

Hi Stephen,

Firstly, was great to be involved in the Political process.

My experiences were at the Ringwood North Primary School polling booth from 8am to 11am on Saturday. I found that the Liberal Party volunteers tried to 'block' where I stood, so that voters couldn't get Mayne's How to Vote cards as they walked in.

The other trick that the Liberal Party volunteers did was to 'talk friendly to you' when a cluster of voters approached the polling area, by that I mean.... The Liberal Party volunteers tried to distract you at the moment, so you couldn't hand out voter cards to the cluster of voters.

Noting the above, I used my charm and skill to outsmart the dirty tricks the Liberal Party volunteers tried on Saturday.... to the point that I was running out of Mayne's How to Vote Cards by 10.20am, and had to call Campaign HQ for reinforcements.

Thanks, Andrew