Thousands of Australians set to cast their votes in Hong Kong today

Straw poll of those voting in HK yesterday suggests a big swing from Kevin Rudd’s Labor to Tony Abbott’s conservatives may be on cards

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 2:02pm

About 3,000 Australians in Hong Kong are expected to cast their votes in today's federal election, and a straw poll of early voters suggests the country will wake up to a new leader tomorrow.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is hoping to cling to the leadership despite most polls indicating conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott is set to take over the reins, with some predicting a landslide victory.

About 5,500 Australians in Hong Kong have already voted since polling began two weeks ago at the consulate in Wan Chai, but the biggest turnout is expected today.

Hong Kong - home to about 90,000 Australians - and Macau have the second-largest group of Australian overseas voters, behind London.

Yesterday, the Post surveyed a dozen voters at the consulate and of those, eight voted for Abbott's Liberal Party, two for Rudd's Labor Party and one for the Greens. One voter declined to reveal their choice.

The economy was a key issue for Liberal voters like Liz Martin, who was in Hong Kong on a business trip. "I've always voted Liberal, but I'm particularly annoyed at the rampant economic mismanagement," she said.

Bill and Sue Wheeler recently moved to Hong Kong from Tokyo and both voted Liberal despite previous support for Labor.

"Over the last five or six years we've gone from having a surplus to a deficit position and I don't see Labor can get us out of that," said Bill, an executive at a Japanese telecommunications firm.

Sue added: "It's about the instability of the Labor leadership, even though I was buzzed when (former prime minister and the country's first woman leader) Julia Gillard got in, just purely from a woman's point of view."

Engineer Brent Jiang, 51, also switched from Labor to Liberal.

"Last time I voted Labor, but I think it's time to have a different party to manage the economy," he said.

Midwife Joanne Rogash, from Victoria, said she voted Liberal because of Labor's internal political troubles. "I'm usually a Labor voter but I'm not happy with how the party is going," she said.

Labor supporter Ken Fung, 27, said his vote was about recognising Rudd's standing on a global level. "The relationship that Rudd has with China influences trade between the two nations and I support that contribution," Fung said.

A 37-year-old voter who declined to give his name said he was worried about Australia drifting to the right, so he gave his vote to the Greens.

Yesterday, editorials in all the major newspapers, except for The Age in Melbourne, backed Abbott. A new poll in Sydney's Daily Telegraph found that on a two-party basis, Labor was trailing 47 to 53 per cent.

Polling booths will be open from 8am and 6pm today. Voting is compulsory in Australia, except when abroad.