ACT News


Vote 1 for the bridal party: newlywed couple says 'I do'

CANBERRANS at Campbell Primary School cheered as newly married Peter and Jelena Harrington got out of their bridal car to vote yesterday afternoon.

Dressed in a figure hugging lace Gloria Grady gown and carrying a bouquet of white flowers and greenery the new Mrs Harrington was the best dressed person voting at the school hall yesterday.

The pair came straight from their wedding service at St John the Baptist Church at Reid where they promised to love, honour and cherish one another before dropping their votes in the ballot box.

Mrs Harrington said she was on ''cloud nine''.

''I'm ready for a party … it was very beautiful and emotional,'' she said.

The couple were heading to Sage, the restaurant owned by Mr Harrington, 34, for their reception. Mr Harrington said voting on their wedding day was just another first to remember.

''It's something for the grandkids to look back on - it's just such a remarkable occasion,'' he said.

Mr Harrington proposed in October last year, during a bushwalk at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania.

Food for thought

Four-year-old Edward Callaghan made a vote of another kind at the Lyneham polls. While he wasn't able to read an ad that said ''Vote 1'' for $2.50 sausage sandwiches, he said it was the best thing at the school.

He told his mother, Jenny Macklin, he would be prime minister when he grew up and was keen to get involved this election even though he won't be able to vote for another 14 years.

''He helped me put my paper in the box,'' Ms Macklin said.

And while sausage sandwiches were popular at polling places in Gordon, Campbell and Lyneham in Turner it was the cold stuff that sold out first.

Yesterday's warm weather, which saw the mercury rise to 25.3 degrees, made Canberrans keen to cool off and by 10.30am the gelato at Turner Primary School was finished. The spring sun took some party faithful by surprise with many seeking shelter in the shade towards the end of the day. Others were sporting painful looking tan lines.

Full of hot air

The ACT Liberals were in trouble with electoral officials throughout the day. Just after voting opened at 8am a media stunt designed to promote Liberals leader Zed Seselja casting his vote drew the ire of polling officials. The Liberals were forced to move a hot-air balloon that was inflated near the Gordon Primary School polling station as Mr Seselja arrived because advertising on the basket was deemed too close to a polling place.

How-to-vote cards and political advertising are banned within 100 metres of a polling venue on election day. On his arrival, Mr Seselja also requested a staff member remove a Team Zed T-shirt to comply with electoral rules.

Chief minister Katy Gallagher said she was not surprised the Liberals had been told to move advertising material. The Liberals were also asked to take down oversized election signs from polling booths around Canberra.

''The Liberals have never played by the rules here,'' Ms Gallagher said.

''I don't see it as a great surprise that today they are flouting the electoral rules with their electoral signs.

'' I know the commissioner and the city rangers have been calling on them to remove the signs that breach the code … their campaign is being a handful for the authorities today.''

The ACT Greens have expressed concern about the signage, saying that it is above the size permitted in the ACT.

Surprise celebrations

Once the clock struck six Canberra was marinated in sparkling wine, oysters and surprise celebrations.

The roads around Kingston were brought to a standstill as the Liberal Party faithful flocked to the Eastlakes Football Club for a buffet dinner of satay and rice before an unexpected celebration erupted.

The hundreds of supporters were quick to cash in their ''This voucher entitles the holder to one drink'' coupon as the mood went from hopeful to ''our man's a hero''.

The bar was heaving as Jeremy Hanson, the newly elected member for Molongolo, circulated around the room before Zed arrived to a rock star welcome with supporters in gold ''Vote 1'' T-shirts chanting his name and pumping their fists better than the cast of Jersey Shore.

Zed's family was out in force with his dad acting as official family photographer snapping the crowd which was ''smelling of victory'' according to a group of Young Liberals who came spilling in the doors while his sisters beamed with pride.

''I'm so nervous but I'm so proud of him. I have no idea how this politics thing works but I couldn't be prouder of Zed,'' his sister Katarina told The Canberra Times.

''I'm just thankful he and we can now put the 2008 election behind us.'' Zed said during his address: ''I didn't expect such a huge crowd.''

The young family all looked resplendent in varying shades of blue. Even the baby of the family, daughter Olivia, got on board the victory train by showing off and throwing around a blue horse soft toy.

Over at Labor HQ, the champagne corks popped somewhat prematurely as the premium drinks flowed and the oysters were served early in the night.

Meredith Hunter and the Greens kept things low key at the Hellenic Club in the City.

Former GetUp! national director Simon Sheikh was spotted amongst the crowd.