Welcome to Thownsville; watch out Cairns

I HAVE voted.

Or I will have by the time you read this, unless you have some very strange weekend habits that involve getting up early.

I like polling days. For a nanosecond I feel important. Here’s me with my little slip of paper changing the course of the future. If next year the rates go up, or the traffic congestion gets worse, or the rubbish bins don’t get emptied, it will be my fault, or yours, depending on who we voted for.

I like the Australian system. You must vote. It’s the law. And if you don’t, you risk getting fined.

This is unlike the system where I was born, in England, where you only have to vote if you feel like it. This means that if it’s raining, or there’s a decent game on the telly, or your girlfriend pops round, the only people who vote are those who stumbled into the polling station thinking it was soup kitchen, which explains a lot.

This year, of course, things are a little different in the twin cities. That is, they’re not. Not twin cities. From today, we’re going to have a different Townsville. One that has swallowed Thuringowa (or, if we want to be politically correct, one that has entered into an equal partnership for the common good).

Think of it as Thownsville.

Of course, we didn’t have a say in this. The state government felt it was too important to let voters interfere with the issue. Maybe they were right.

My mate Merv was dead set against it. He’s lived in Townsville all his life and worked in Thuringowa Ñ when there was one Ñ for most of it. He liked it the way it was. But then Merv is dead set against most things. He’s the argument against forcing everyone to vote.

But I guess I liked it the way it was, too. There was a sense of healthy competition. We could make jokes about Les Tyrell or Tony Moony, depending which side of the border we were from, and it was all Good Clean Fun. We could say unkind things about Thuringowa (if we lived in Townsville) and about Townsville (if we lived in Thuringowa) and everyone would laugh.

Now we’re all going to be on the same side, who is there left to poke fun at?

It can’t be Cairns all the time! Well, actually (as Merv says) it can be Cairns all the time, and it probably will be. Come to think of it, it will be a lot easier.

I mean, most of us have friends who come from one of the former twin cities… some of us even have family. A cream pie in the gob isn’t quite so funny when it’s your nearest and dearest who are picking meringue out their nostrils. But no one important lives in Cairns (And if anyone there is related to us, by some terrible accident of birth, we don’t have to admit it).

So… welcome to Thownsville… now indisputably the biggest and most important city in North Queensland. I hear Les Tyrell is calling it the biggest regional city in the state. The Gold Coast might be a bit miffed to hear that (it’s still a regional city, population 500,000, even if it is near Brisbane), but he’s right about one thing Ñ it’s a whole lot bigger than Cairns (population 130,000 at the last count)! Now that we’re Thownsville we can safely tread on Cairns’ sandcastles without fear of reprisals.

Interesting times, in which only one thing is certain Ñ no matter who you vote for the rates will go up. They always do.