Aug 31

I would consider myself to be sort of left-wing in my politics. A liberal but also a little conservative in some ways I guess.

ballotI thought Julia Gillard was a pretty good idea after she won the last election. I’m pretty impressed that she was able to lead a minority government and get so much done. Tony Abbott on the other hand isn’t such a good idea. His politics seem to me to be so negative and his incessant calls for an election was just maddening, considering that if he had won the support of the independents he would have also gone the full term.

The ousting of Rudd was bad enough, but for the same thing to happen to Gillard is just beyond the scope of all reason. It seems to me that Rudd was always working towards getting back into the PM’s job.  Rudd’s fellow MP’s ditched him for good reason.  They didn’t like him.  Am I to now accept that somehow he’s changed and that he will be better behaved this time?

I don’t like how it happened, I certainly don’t like how he then wanted the parliament to be a kinder and fairer place after his actions.  I’m not at all impressed by the actions of Rudd or the actions of those in the Labor Party.  This isn’t about anything other than them trying to retain power, it seems to me to be an unprincipled tactic and has ensured that it will be a very long time before I vote for Labor again.

That sort of leaves me in a bit of a quandary as it’s election time.  In the electorate of Higgins there are seven candidates.

1 O’DWYER, Kelly Liberal

2 BALDWIN, Jamie Family First Party

3 CHAU, Wesa Australian Labor Party

4 PRICE, Leanne Rise Up Australia Party

5 DALL, Phillip Leslie Palmer United Party

6 HARRISON, James The Greens

7 WEBER, Graeme B Independent

Voting time for me comes early as I’m in Bali on holiday.  I want to participate and have my say and I want my vote to actually mean something.

Michael and I visited the Australian Consulate in Denpasar to lodge our postal vote, that in itself was an interesting and eye-opening experience.  As I stood with my House of Representative ballot paper I still hadn’t decided who would get my 1st preference.

I’d met with Kelly O’Dwyer earlier in the year and that was sort of ok.  She changed her mind on marriage equality and that is important to me.  I’d also had the chance to interact with James Harrison from the Greens, he seems ok to me, but really didn’t greatly impress me.  Wesa Chau from the Labor party seems like an interesting woman based on her social media presence.  I didn’t get a chance to chat with her before we left for Bali.

It dawned on me as I stood there with the ballot.  I need to number them starting from my least preferred candidate.


7 PRICE, Leanne Rise Up Australia Party (I loved putting that 7 next to these religious homophobes)

6 BALDWIN, Jamie Family First Party (More religious nutters)

5 DALL, Phillip Leslie Palmer United Party (A party named after a man who thinks he’d be a great PM – too big an ego)

4 WEBER, Graeme B Independent (Single issue candidate, wants to introduce nuclear power, I don’t think so!)

3 O’DWYER, Kelly Liberal (One word, Abbott!)

2 CHAU, Wesa Australian Labor Party (Not after the way Rudd has behaved)

1 HARRISON, James The Greens

And there you have it, voting by numbering in reverse ordered based on who I would least want to represent me.

I also voted below the line on the Senate paper.  For Victoria that’s numbering from 1 to 97.  I don’t want some party hack deciding how my preferences should be used.  And besides, I wanted to take great delight in putting Danny Nalliah from the Rise Up Australia Party down as number 97.  His running mate was 96.  It was like saving the last bit of tasty food on your plate for last.  It made the whole numbering below the line worth the effort.  It was the best formed 97 I’ve ever written, so neat and tidy.

At the top I placed the Greens and then the Secular Party.  I really want the Greens to have the balance of power, because no matter whether we have a Labor or Liberal party in office we need to keep them in check.  Any political party that has control of both houses is a bad thing for the country!









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Jul 26

I just can’t believe that my government lead by Kevin Rudd and the opposition leader, Tony Abbott are so tied up in knots about asylum seekers.

aia_refugee_fbprofileIt seems to be crazy and I want them to know how bad I think their decisions are.  On one hand we have Rudd wanting to send them all to PNG and on the other we have Abbott claiming we have an emergency on our hands and that somehow our borders need protecting from unarmed people in leaky boats.

The real issue is people smugglers.  I don’t have the right answers, but I do know that treating asylum seekers as if they are a threat is simply inhumane and ridiculous.

There are plenty of ways to express the way I feel, and I’m starting with an email that I’ve sent to my local member.  Kelly O’Dwyer.

I know that Kelly is switched on to the rights of people after her recent support of marriage equality.  I’m hoping that she will have the courage to use that same sense of fair play when it comes to the rights of asylum seekers.

Here’s the letter, feel free to cut and paste and send off to your local member.  Remember, we need to let them know how we feel.

Hi Kelly,

I’ve been following the issue of asylum seekers as I’m keen to make sure that those fleeing danger in their often war-torn countries are able to to find somewhere in the world that will help them.

I’m rather dismayed at the Labor party policy to move these refugees to PNG.

I’m really very horrified by the Liberal Party policy called Operation Sovereign Borders.

I struggle with the notion that somehow unarmed people in leaky boats warrants such a heavy-handed response and I don’t think we have a national emergency either. It’s not like the 48,000 people who have arrived have posed a threat to Australian society by wanting to over throw the government or do anything other than have a better life.

If it’s people smugglers that are the real culprits here, then that should be our target, not punitive measure that seem designed to make life even harder for legitimate asylum seekers.

I hope that you will take a sensible approach and that you would encourage your party to be more compassionate towards those that are fleeing terror so that they aren’t coming to a greater terror of being completely dispossessed through no fault of their own.

I always sign letters to MPs with my full name, my address and mobile phone number.  I also CC’d Tony Abbott in.

Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party policy

Kevin Rudd on the Labor Party policy

Visit Amnesty International for some ideas on how to help.


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Sep 28

Under the gaze of Robert Menzies we were ushered into Kelly O’Dwyer’s office.  Old Menzies is a bronze bust sitting on a pedestal with an Australian Flag draped next to him.  His cold staring eyes look over Michael and I as we take a seat at the table with Kelly.  I wonder what Menzies would have thought about marriage equality.

Kelly O’Dwyer is the member for Higgins, my local member.  She’s the first sitting politician that I’ve had a formal meeting with since living in the Melbourne.  I recall living in Hamilton and meeting Malcolm Fraser on many occasions.  Fraser was much more aloof.

Our meeting follows on from the recent one we had with Anna Burke, Michael’s local member.  Yes, we have do live together, but we maintain separate residences!  We were keen to hear what Kelly had to say about marriage equality.

The defeat of the marriage equality bill happened recently.  I’d set this meeting up well before that event, so the idea of trying to convince Kelly to vote against her party was no longer my objective.  Instead I wanted to focus on the future and what that would mean.

I told Kelly about the death of my mother.  How in my family of eleven each of the wives or husbands of my siblings was mentioned.  Except for Michael.  It was decided that that was too much for the sweet little country town to bear.  So his name wasn’t tagged on the end of mine.  That hurt.  My relationship with Michael is every bit as real as the relationship that Daryl has with Lee, that Larry has with Diane, that David has with Robyn, that Michael has with Margie, that Shane has with Mary-Lou, that Helen(deceased) had with Rodney, that Bronwyn has with Derek, that Angela has with Chris, that Janine had with John and that Craig has with Cheryl.  It stood out like dogs balls.  My best mate Geoff, sitting next to Michael in the church quietly reassured Michael that he too was part of the family and equally as important.  It just didn’t feel like it at the time.

Marriage would at least give some dignity to the situation, there would be no escaping the fact that the Storer family has a gay member.

Kelly talked about how any sort of social change needs community consensus. I’m not sure why we need a consensus when it comes to equality and rights, it seems to me that it’s pretty clear-cut.  She describes the push for marriage equality as complex.  Although I fail to see how it’s complex.

Kelly is also very keen on civil unions, she thinks that is a stepping stone and we spent some time talking about that concept.  I don’t agree with her, I think civil unions is an appalling idea and I’d never be happy with that concept.  I’m not about to accept that civil unions grants anything like equal rights.

We talked about family life, the importance of Michael’s family and how I fit into that, how Michael works with my family.  We spoke about the families we know and gave Kelly photographs of a couple of mums and their children and a couple of dads and their children.  Those families are every bit as functional as all other families and to deny them the right to marry is a travesty.

Kelly seemed pretty clear that she didn’t think a vote will get up again.  She is convinced that with some internal lobbying that civil unions would be accepted.  She indicated that she would be talking to her Liberal colleagues and trying to get their support.

When asked if marriage equality came before the parliament would she vote for it, she wouldn’t give an answer.  In fact, let me cut and paste her response from a recent Q&A question as it’s very close to our discussion:

TONY JONES: So can I just interrupt you there. Does that mean if you had the free choice, you would have voted no?

KELLY O’DWYER: Well, look, on the issue of the conscience vote, I think Tanya makes a very interesting point because the Labor Party made much of the fact that they had a conscience vote on this issue. They only decided, though, to have a conscience vote on this issue when it was very apparent that the party platform would change. The Labor Party platform binds parliamentarians which would have meant that all of the Labor parliamentarians would have actually have to have…

TONY JONES: Okay, but what would your conscience have dictated to you personally?

KELLY O’DWYER: No. No. No. But this is an important point, though, Tony, because…

TONY JONES: If you had a conscience vote, what would you have voted?

KELLY O’DWYER: But, Tony, if you can just let me finish this one point because it is important. It would have meant, of course, that all of the Labor members of parliament would have actually voted for a change to the Marriage Act if they had been bound but the Prime Minister decided to be a little bit tricky and she decided to actually make a change and so she said that on this policy issue they would vote differently. Now, we made a commitment, as I said. Going into the next election, we will no doubt talk about this issue again. Civil unions may come up. I don’t know if that’s something that the Labor Party is going to be bringing forward. I suspect that across the…

TONY JONES: Okay, but just to bring you, because we haven’t got a lot of time – just to bring you to the point that I asked, if you had a conscience vote yourself, would you ever voted yes or no?

KELLY O’DWYER: Well, I mean, it’s a hypothetical question. I have been on the record…

TONY JONES: Your conscience is a hypothetical?

KELLY O’DWYER: No. No. No. It’s a hypothetical question as to how I would have voted. I mean we took a position as a party on this issue.

TONY JONES: Would you be prepared to reveal publicly what your position is?

KELLY O’DWYER: Well, I have publicly stated my support for civil unions and that’s my public position.

And that is indeed her public position.

Kelly makes all the right noises, she acknowledges our position but refuses to budge from hers.  She appears to be supportive of marriage equality but won’t give her unqualified support.  She is prepared to support the hypothetical notion of civil unions but not the hypothetical notion of marriage equality.

This is the political game.  Keep the constituents happy, make it sound like you empathise and concur with them but give them nothing solid.

It wasn’t a bad meeting, Kelly is a professional politician.  Good humoured, determined and respectful.

It’s a pity that her respect doesn’t extend to telling us exactly where she stands on marriage equality instead of taking the safe ground of civil unions.


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