Macca’s and the Donkey Vote

We got a limited response to our invitation of have a no-holds-barred, knock-down, drag-out burger eating contest at McDonald’s this Saturday in support of Ronald McDonald’s Children’s Charities in St. Kilda. At first we thought it might be an Australian distaste for American food or American culture. Then we realized we probably just the used the wrong word from the wrong language. So we’ll try again: Meet us at Maccas!

Ian and Sue Smith write in, “Thanks for the invite to Maccas on Saturday. Unfortunately we have a prior commitment, and cannot make it, but we would have if we could have It’s a great thought to have like minded people gathering to make a difference to help a charity, and also to meet and get to know other like minded people.” We agree Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Sorry you can’t make it. We’ll still be there Saturday, eating burgers for charity.

Meanwhile, U.S.-based reader Michael Ponzani writes in, “Although States-bound, and in the know about how Ray Kroc’s widow contributes heavily to the Democratic Party here, (she wants a monopoly on fast food), I still think a dollar for a Big Mac (Mad Magazine once called it a Big Wack–go to WacDonalds!) is a good idea. If I were you, I’d eat them all day long, feed them to my dog (or cat) and go back late at night for more. They can be reconstituted using the right techniques. This is an easy and painless way to help children who, through no fault of their own, (even allowing for Karma) are in a rough spot. If you’re worried about your health, just don’t eat them for a good while after Big Mac Orgy Day…eat White Castle instead.” Substitute “Hungry Jacks” for “White Castle” and we find this to be a perfectly good local suggestion!

And this last note on speaking another language from Sharon:

Dear Dan

Welcome to the land down under.

I am very pleased that you’re here – I’ve enjoyed the Markets and Money for years but now, with an Aussie slant, it’s even better.

I would love to meet you over a Big Mac but as I live in Queensland it is just not going to happen.

Since I can’t chat with you in person, here are a few pointers to help slant you even more to the Aussie way of thinking :-)

Here, we call the world famous hamburger joint ‘Maccas’ not McDonalds – probably because Australians need to feel familiar with, and “equal to” the people (and by extension the corporations) they do business with. Same reasoning probably explains why we would refer to such an establishment as a “joint”.

Australians only give nicknames to people, and obviously corporations, that they like. So, how are you faring here – has an Aussie given you a new moniker yet? (See, we even go so far as to give the word “name” a nickname!)

From a financial perspective this pervasive need we have to nickname the things we like may give you an “inside edge” to the Australian consumer’s mindset. Eg, if we only give nicknames to things we like what does that say about companies such as DJ’s (aka David Jones) and Hardly Normal (Harvey Norman) etc.

Of course this can be tricky because we also give nicknames to people we don’t like, eg Honest John (John Howard), Buckets (Kim Beasley), doubleya (George Bush) etc. The secret is to see if we use the nickname to the persons face – if we do, we like them, if we don’t then they’re in trouble.

I am sure you will have no problem with this Aussie perspective though – you seem to be getting into the swing of this mindset very well – your “pirate equity” for private equity was perfect.

Voting/Jury duty. In Australia you don’t get called for jury duty unless you are on the electoral roll.

Everyone eligible to vote has to be on the roll, everyone on the roll has to attend a voting station when an election is called, and everyone on the roll must make themselves available for jury duty if called.

Lots of people new to Australia don’t seem to understand that we don’t have compulsory ‘voting’ – we have compulsory ‘attendance at a voting station’.

As a friend has explained to you, just because you have to turn up at a voting station it doesn’t mean you have to vote for any of the people nominated.

If you don’t like any of the nominations you cast a ‘donkey vote’. There are lots of ways to do this – your friend has obviously explained the “1,2,3,4…” method to you but this is taking the easy way out.

Other methods include crossing all the nominations out and writing in your own preferred choices (Elvis Presley, Genghis Khan, Nelson Mandela, JRR Tolkien etc); some draw pictures (lemmings and sheep feature often amongst my friends); and others like to write long, often rude, statements giving their opinion about the way the place is being run. There are lots of ways to make your donkey vote count!

But enough of Australian quirks. I am sure you will get the hang of it!

I hope that lots of readers are able to make it to your lunch at St Kilda and that they make you feel welcome here….. with a bit of luck a nickname will be foisted on you!


Thanks Sharon. We are celebrating the one year anniversary of our arrival in Australia today. We haven’t earned a nickname yet. But we can be reached at if you’d like to suggest one!

Dan Denning

Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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