Civics Lesson: The NSW Parliament

Sydney

This weekend is Sydney Open, and a lot of buildings in the city are open for tours and visits, a chance  to see some of the unique buildings in the city that are normally not open or limited to the public.

Last night was a free night and five buildings were open. After work (and I just so happen to work at one of the buildings that will be open on Sunday, no special tour required), I met up with Partner-in-Crime and we took a quick tour through the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. I pressed through that one with some haste as I’d been there once before. We met up with a friend for dinner, and afterwards the three of us proceeded on to the NSW Parliament building. We had fun taking in all the mahogany, leather, pewter and antique chandeliers that you would expect to see, as well as an eclectic collection of modern art in the lobby. Our friend and I had a long sit on the benches of the Legislative Council, and I wondered how the Members summon all that anger for booing and shouting during debates from such comfortable seats (i.e. – from the equally comfortable Legislative Assembly). P-i-C, meanwhile, grilled the host, a Parliamentary steward (we’ll pretend that’s his actual title, since I don’t know what it is) on the finer points of law.

Far and away my favorite part of the tour was the blown up ballot on display. Not being a citizen, I have never voted in Australia or even seen a ballot. I did complete my American ballot a few weeks ago and was reminded that there are plenty more than two parties to choose from, but this ballot was a whole different animal. The parties included:

Can’t decide if I love The Four Wheel Drive party or the What’s Doing? Party more.
This is just one little section. Basically, voters can either tick the box to vote for a party, as above (there are more “usual” parties, as well – Liberals, Labour, Green, etc, but those aren’t as interesting to photograph) or choose 15 individual candidates, which are listed on the ballot below the party. This was a ballot from 2000, and the guide said that there are more regulations now, which make it a bit harder to form a party. But, really, how much fun would it be to vote in this election…
Democracy. It’s a beautiful thing.