THE DAY I GOT A CALL FROM A FORMER PRIME MINISTER

Elections are in the air at the present time as I sit here writing this article. The American Presidential elections are only weeks away. Before the polls close at least one candidate is already saying the election is rigged.

But my mind is going back to 1978 and to the time that I received a telephone call from former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

Mr Whitlam telephoned me to seek some advice on when to announce his retirement from Parliament and cause a by-election for his seat of Werriwa. Now it is not often that one would receive such a call and I felt privileged and honoured that he would call to ask advice. Why did he call you may wonder? At the time I was acting as the Divisional Returning Officer for Werriwa and as such would have to organise and manage the by-election that was going to eventuate.

Mr Whitlam did not have to call me for advice, he could have just as well informed the Speaker of the House of Representatives that wished to resign and the Speaker could then announce that there would be a by-election for the seat of Werriwa. Now politics and policies aside, I found Gough Whitlam to be a considerate gentleman, likewise I have found other politicians on both sides of politics to be likewise, just as I have also found other politicians again on both sides of politics to be condescending or arrogant.

I suggested to Mr Whitlam that as school holidays were approaching I would prefer that the by-election be held outside the holiday period. I pointed out that many schools were used as polling places and often for security and access to the schools, that there was a preference that a number of teaching or office staff from the schools be used as polling officials. If the by-election was held during a school holiday period then access to the schools and the availability of teaching or office staff of the school could cause some minor difficulty.

We needed access to organise delivery of voting booths and ballot boxes and this was in the days before the Electoral Commission had cardboard voting booths and ballot boxes. Remember the old Wooden Voting Booths and the metal ballot boxes?

The by-election was held and the seat of Werriwa was retained by Labor with their candidate John Kerin winning the by-election.

As for the claim by a current American Presidential candidate that the current Presidential election is rigged, I will say this that every electoral system is open to manipulation. The Australian Electoral System whilst being one of the best in the world today and the envy of many, is no different and is open to manipulation. When you attend and vote in a Licenced club election in NSW you have to present your membership card or a form of ID to receive a ballot paper, yet when you vote in a Government election be it State, Federal or Council you are not required to present evidence of who you say you are. FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

NOW WHAT ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES OR YOUR STORY

You can write about childhood memories of where you may have grown up or moving into the area. Tell us about your school days. Where you worked, played or went on holidays; your first car; that first date,getting married or maybe the history of your family, group or organisation in the district. This page is about memories so tell us yours.

If you have some great memories, or perhaps you belong to a local community organisation and would like to share your organisation’s history or story with us then feel free to share your memories or experiences by writing to 17 Rose St., Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 or email to ivorjones@hillstohawkesbury.com.au You can also share memories on any of my Facebook memories groups including Hills District Memories which you will find at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ Hills.memories/ or Hawkesbury Happenings & Memories which you will find at https://www.facebook.com/ groups/Hawkesmemories/