UPDATE: Sunday 10 July – 3pm
BREAKING UPDATE: White smoke is billowing from the chimney at the top of the Australian Electoral Commission, signalling the election of a new Prime Minister.
Australians have been waiting for more than a week for a decision from the AEC, watching with anticipation for any sign of a change in smoke colour from black to white, which would trumpet that a new PM had been elected.
The smoke colour changed, earlier this afternoon, heralding the election of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who will form a Liberal-National coalition government.
Broken News cameras continue to be trained on the chimney atop Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) headquarters for any sign of a new Prime Minister being elected. Black smoke continues to billow from the chimney, indicating that the electoral officials have yet to reach a verdict on a new leader.
In a centuries old tradition, AEC officials burn the votes that they have already counted, one pile at a time, producing the darkened smoke. When a leader is finally selected, the officials add a chemical agent to turn the smoke colour white, a sign that a new PM has finally been chosen.
The counting process is usually complete on election night, with white smoke wafting into the air to signal the election of a new leader. But this year, the count has gone on for many days in a very tight race. The delay in counting postal votes has meant the black smoke has continued to pour into the skies above the official tally room.
Usually we expect a much quicker result. The photograph below shows jubilant white smoke coming from the chimney on election night in 2007 as Kevin Rudd was swept to power.
Although the smoke signals have many similarities to the process for electing a Pope at the Vatican, Broken News can confirm that the AEC was the first to introduce the process, which has now been copied by the Catholic Church.
“Ever since Edmund Barton, we’ve done it,” the AEC Commissioner told Broken News. “Every election, referendum, even plebiscites, we fire up the ol’ chimney. Rome started copying us in the mid 1950’s.”
It’s not the only method of electing officials that makes Australia seem archaic and medieval. Earlier this week Broken News broke the story of election officials using Roman numerals to count votes, a process that was slowing the entire system down.
Stay with Broken News for live coverage of this year’s election count.