Hot dogs sizzle as Australians in Singapore vote

Australian High Commissioner to Singapore Philip Green (left) at the sausage sizzle at the Australian High Commission on Napier Road on Saturday, September 7, 2013. As Australians start digesting the results of the election, their expatriat
Australian High Commissioner to Singapore Philip Green (left) at the sausage sizzle at the Australian High Commission on Napier Road on Saturday, September 7, 2013. As Australians start digesting the results of the election, their expatriate countrymen in Singapore have been indulging in another polling day tradition - the sausage sizzle. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

AROUND 2, 000 Australians converged at the Australian High Commission at Napier Road on Saturday to cast their votes and tuck into an Aussie style barbecue of beef sausages served with bread and lashings of onions and sauce.

Inside the High Commission, expats heading to polling booths were also treated to the sounds of home as Australian bush music - complete with the noise of crickets and birdsong - played in the background.

Mr Philip Green, 53, the Australian High Commissioner to Singapore, said he and his team decided to hold the sausage sizzle here for the first time to help strengthen bonds within the 27,000 strong expat community.

"Australians don't have many opportunities to come together... many people are busy with a life that is fundamentally Singaporean," he said.

"Today is an opportunity for them to express their 'Australianess'...the sausage sizzle helps," he said.

Community groups throughout Australia usually hold barbecues outside polling stations to raise funds for good causes.

Singapore's election day sausage sizzle raised an estimated S$3,000. Organised by the Australian and New Zealand Association, the fund will support a number of projects in the Republic and Cambodia.

Amid the laidback vibes of the barbecue, expats exchanged serious views about the election.

Mr Rishnel Chandra, a 30-year-old banker from Sydney who has lived in Singapore for two years, said he voted for the Liberal party even though he is not a fan of Mr Tony Abbott.

"He doesn't say the right things, he's a bit aloof, but at the same time I feel like the people that are around him are quite capable and I think that they will do a good job," he said.

Student Shelby Koh, 18, who has lived in Singapore for four years, said she prefers Labor leader Mr Kevin Rudd over Mr Abbott.

"I reckon he has got more experience because he was prime minister before," said Ms Koh, who is from Perth. She added that was an ardent supporter of equal rights, including gay marriage, and she felt Mr Rudd would be able to deliver on this issue.

Australia's policies on refugees and climate change were the most pressing concerns for Ms Kirsty Leong, a 39-year-old postgraduate student from Melbourne who move to Singapore eight months ago.

Although the nation’s official refugee intake is relatively high compared to other countries, Australia’s policies around asylum seekers are still “pretty harsh”, said Ms Leong,a supporter of The Greens, who agreed to support Labor after the hung Parliament in 2010, but are formally unaligned.   

hquasem@sph.com.sg