The other night Brian & I were able to do a couple of distinctly Sydney-esque activities & it was kinda fun. A little background first …
I work in a very central place in downtown Sydney (or Sydney CBD as it’s called … oh, central business district … Aussies love their nicknames but also their acronyms). Our next door neighbour is Parliament House, which is the state legislature. All sorts of interesting things go on there. Quite often there are protests & rallies, etc. and there can be packs of reporters milling around when interesting things happen. I’ve found Australian politics to be quite interesting, particularly lately.
Soon after I started working here the premier had to step down over a privitization scheme, which brought the hordes of reporters to the sidewalk in front of our buildings, so it kind of caught my radar. Three days after the new premier came into power there was a bit of a scandal in his party to shake things up a bit again.
This is perhaps one of the funnier incidents of political shenanigans I have ever heard about. Brian almost choked on his chai latte while reading about this one in the local coffee shop. Here is a link, but be warned it’s a bit graphic, as they don’t hold much back here journalistically speaking, but it is also frickin’ hilarious!
For those of you who read it … comparatively, Canadian politicians are a bit boring … no!?!
So anyway, my interest in politics peaked & wanting to get to know my neighbours a bit better, I signed Brian & I up for this class called “A little night sitting” from 5 - 7 pm. It was an intro to the New South Wales political system, including a tour of the Upper & Lower house (they have 2, kind of like Parliament & the Senate in Ottawa), a Q& A with a couple of politicians & a tasty selection of biscuits (cookies, in Canadian).
The talk on the political system was a bit dry, but it is interesting to note that when Australians vote they don’t just tick off one person, they can rate the candidates, i.e. You put a 1 by the lesser of two evils, a 2 by the more evil of 2 evils & a 3 by the guy with the nose hair, etc. I can’t imagine how long it takes to count the votes as it’s not just who has the most votes, but who has the highest ratings. Oh, & also you have to vote or pay a fine … it’s mandatory! Everyone over 18 is registered to vote & if you don’t, you have to pay. Interesting idea …
We then went over the Upper House, as they were in session. They were discussing some legislation to do with fences. “Hedge rage” was mentioned & Robert Frost was quoted (good fences make good neighbours … or something like that), so it was kind of interesting. Then we went over to the Lower House where they were discussing adoption legislation in a much drier way.
After that we got to ask a couple of politicians questions. One of the guys was a back bencher in the opposition so he had many snarky comments about the government … it seemed a bit petty after a while actually ... so that was familiar politically anyway.
We wrapped up with a raid on the remaining cookies & Brian & I headed over to Hyde Park where they were having a Night Noodle market. They had all sorts of booths set up with different types of Asian cuisine. They had big lanterns & lights in the trees, wandering drums & a Chinese dragon. It was packed, but we were able to find a couple of free chairs to enjoy our Thai noodles & a Himalayan plate of noodley goodness. There was an organic ice cream booth that we visited too … fig, honey & pistachio ice cream rocks, by the way!
All in all a good evening … There is always something going on in the city & quite often I’m tempted, but then think … ugh, that means a later train, late getting home & I have to work early again the next day, bitch, bitch, etc, etc… It’s good that Brian makes the trip out for these things or I probably would talk myself out of them. It’s actually made me think about how little of this stuff I do when I’m home in Canada. There’s always stuff going on in Vancouver, but I always have a million excuses why I never go … perhaps this will change when I get back!?! I hope so …