One of the key backroom players in Saturday’s Victorian state election has already packed her bags and by now will have landed in Sydney where she will stay until the New South Wales poll in March 2019.
It’s a familiar pattern for Laura Norder who has participated in every federal and state election in Australia over a period of years, the exact length of which she refuses to disclose.
Speaking while travelling on an overcrowded Melbourne tram for a last-minute shopping trip for essentials she’ll be too busy to buy in Sydney, Ms Norder (pictured) said the Victorian campaign had been tiring and stressful.
“This [campaign] had lots of elements to it as far as my role was concerned,” she told The Bug.
“I was involved in the ‘African gangs’ issues; the usual ‘crime wave’ that politicians suddenly discover around election time; the relatively new issue of ‘terrorists next door’ in our suburbs; the ongoing scares about migrants bringing crime, clogged streets and overcrowded schools to local communities; the steady diet of frightening crime story footage screened nightly on every TV news bulletin; and of course the sad and very tragic events in Bourke Street.
“It’s a far cry from years ago when people like Sir Henry Bolte were running Victoria and I know my mum had little to do back then because people knew if criminals did the wrong thing they’d be hanged. But she did recommend Ronald Ryan to be Sir Henry’s fall guy, so to speak, on one occasion when a poll lift was desperately needed. She was proud of that to the day she was killed.
“Certainly the 2018 Victorian campaign is something I would not want to repeat, but at least I can say I have done my duty.”
Ms Norder explained she willingly played her role because to do otherwise would be to disown what was essentially a sacred family trust.
“For untold decades now every generation of the Norder family has had an eldest daughter name Laura and it falls to her to heed our nation’s call and to play a role in politics, especially before and during elections, wherever and whenever she is called upon,” Ms Norder said.
“I remember my mother Laura sitting me on her knee when I was just a toddler and explaining the work she did and how and why I would be taking over the role when I grew up.
“I’ve done the same with my daughter Laura , and she has a girl, Laura, still at school who knows exactly what her future holds.”
Ms Norder, who refused to reveal her age, said her favourite state to visit over the years had been Queensland.
“I was almost never away from Queensland in the years when Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen ran the place,” she said.
“I had a lot of fun up there prior to the 1972 election when the South African rugby team, the Springboks, visited in 1971 and Premier Bjelke-Petersen declared a state of emergency. That kept me so busy for months.
“After that at just about every election for more than a decade there was Sir Joh’s anti-street march laws that literally saw people rioting in the streets before each election.
“I was a regular visitor to Queensland for their elections, and there was certainly no shortage of demands for my services, given that Terry Lewis was Police Commissioner for so any years and was so close to the then Premier.”
Ms Norder said the family tradition of service at elections was not confined to Australia.
“There are branches of the Norder family all over the world, a great diaspora,” she said.
“My American cousins are kept especially busy these days, but so too are my relatives in the UK and across Europe.
“I don’t communicate with the European branches of the family a lot, but when I do it’s amazing how language is never a problem for us.
“In our line of work I guess we all speak the same language really,” she said.