Doing queue time

Rhonda Dredge

CBD residents were forced to queue for 90 minutes at polling booths on Saturday at an election that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

At the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) the queue extended for more than 500 metres.

Queues like this have not been seen since students lined up for food during the pandemic.

The situation was made worse by that fact that there were no polling booths in the CBD, sending residents on reconnaissance missions for short queues.

Sam Bowman, who lives in an apartment above the GPO, first checked out the polling booth to the north of the CBD at Peel St, North Melbourne.

“This morning I went to the one on the north side of the city,” he told CBD News.

“The queue was around the city block, so I got on my scooter and came here.”

Sam arrived at the Convention Centre at about 11.30am. By the time he emerged at about 1pm, the queue extended all the way from Door 10, where voting took place, to Door 1.

“I didn’t mind standing in the queue,” he said. “But the guy next to me was drunk and I tried to keep him quiet.”

Sam said that the last time he voted in an election it took 30 minutes, and the booth was close to home.

“In previous years it was much better. I’ve always voted in the CBD at offices in Elizabeth and Flinders streets.”

Electoral staff told CBD News that staff shortages and the impact of COVID restrictions made queues move more slowly this year.

But this doesn’t account for the fact that there were no polling booths in the CBD. At the last Federal election in 2019, voters were lined up on Spring St next to the familiar terrain of Parliament Station.

Residents were left wondering if the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) based its decision on estimated population figures.

“Who knows?” Sam said. “Perhaps it’s because the CBD population has diminished.”

An AEC spokesperson said, “Potential voting locations are carefully assessed prior to each federal election. Consideration is given to the geography of local area, population, past voting trends, nearby voting services, travel trends and accessibility.”

Queues at MCEC at South Wharf were exacerbated by an influx of voters from nearby Mcnamara, tourists and workers.

One couple down in Melbourne for a romantic weekend without the kids spent 90 minutes of their precious away time in the queue.

They made the most of the experience and filmed their queue time in the big smoke to show their kids on return to Mt Evelyn •


Captions: The queue at the Convention Centre.

CBD resident Sam Bowman after a 90-minute queue time.

Tourist Jack Martin films the queue to show his kids.

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