Sunday, July 28, 2013

Corangamite...where 386 voters could have given us PM Abbott

This post appeared at as a part of their citizen journalists project leading up to the 2013 election.

To give you a brief outline about myself, I am in my mid 40s. I work part time as an accountant, but will shortly be leaving my employment and hope to commence a Graduate Diploma of Teaching at Deakin University. By this time next year I hope to be a teacher. I have been married for almost 16 years and have three children aged 14, 12 and 9, two in the local primary school and one in the local high school. We live in the suburbs of Geelong. My workplace is a 10 minute drive from home and my husband commutes on the train to Melbourne. The kids are involved in lots of activities which draws on my services as 'Mum's taxi'. 

In 1987 I was completing my HSC and one of my subjects was Australian Politics.  I developed a keen interest in the subject and of course our class was thrilled when Prime Minister Bob Hawke called a double dissolution Federal election for that year.  It was a unique opportunity to witness politics unfold in a real life scenario. I was 18, so this was my first opportunity to vote. I had memories as a child of waiting in the car while my parents went into the local primary school hall to vote and I was very excited to finally have my own chance to have a say.

You would think with these memories I would remember who I voted for or who the actual member of Parliament was, but I can't. Google has helped me to determine it was Attorney General Michael Duffy (ALP) who was my local member of Holt. I was to vote in this electorate for the next two Federal elections. It was a safe Labor seat.

In 1994 I moved to Geelong and into the safe Liberal seat of Corangamite. Much of the electorate captured south western country areas such as Colac and Winchelsea, seaside towns of Lorne, and some of the Geelong suburbs Belmont, Highton and Grovedale.  After having been in a safe ALP seat and now a safe Liberal seat I longed for my vote to have impact..

In 2007, when Darren Cheeseman seemed to come from nowhere on the wave of Kevin07 and the sense that Howard's time was up I was excited that it now felt like my vote counted, and the seat could readily fall either way. Our safe Liberal seat had thrown up a shock result, and long time member of Parliament, Stewart McArthur lost his seat after serving the people of Corangamite from 1984 to 2007.

In 2010 the margin in Corangamite was even closer, leading to it becoming the most marginal seat in the country. I clicked refresh on the AEC website so frequently as votes were counted, and truly felt my vote was important. It was the last seat declared in the election. Darren Cheeseman won the seat by 771 votes after preferences, 47235 - 46464. If 386 people had voted differently the seat would not have been his. As we now know, the 2010 election resulted in a hung Parliament. 386 people in my electorate could have brought about a different result, a different Parliament and life as we know it now could have been markedly different.

In 2013 the two major parties have the same candidates as 2010. Darren Cheeseman, the current sitting member, for the ALP and Sarah Henderson for the Liberal party. Both have been letterbox dropping for months now. I believe Sarah Henderson was preselected some time ago and has had an office in place for some time in busy High St, Belmont. 

Darren Cheeseman's office is located in Waurn Ponds near the junction of the Geelong Bypass and Princes Hwy. 

Both are regularly updating Facebook and Twitter with photo opportunities from community interaction.
 (from Darren's Facebook page 26/7/13)
(from Sarah's facebook page 24/7/13)

The Greens candidate is Lloyd Davies.  I have not been aware of his campaign or presence in the electorate (ie no junk mail) and found his name on the AEC website of declared candidates. I then found his Facebook page and see he is posting his photo ops too. As yet I am not aware of a Twitter presence.
 (from Lloyd's facebook page 26/7/13)

A visit to the Palmer United Party website shows Buddy Rojek is the candidate for Corangamite 
There is a photo and email address to contact him. 
Katter's AustralianParty does not have a candidate identified on their website.
I expect some independents to emerge too.
I would like to speak to the candidates and will also speak with some residents in Corangamite to discuss the issues that are important to them and the factors that will influence their vote.

Darren Cheeseman                                                                          Lloyd Davies

Sarah Henderson                                                                         Buddy Rojek

From the AEC website:
The Division of Corangamite is located in south-western Victoria. It covers an area of 7 624 sq km encasing spectacular coastline, scenic rainforest, magnificent beaches and rolling plains. The localities of Anglesea, Apollo Bay, Colac, Inverleigh, Lorne, Torquay and Winchelsea and parts of the Greater City of Geelong (Barwon Heads, Belmont, Grovedale, Highton, Ocean Grove) are located in this division. The division of Corangamite is bordered by the divisions of Wannon to the west, Ballarat to the north and Corio to the east.
Named after Lake Corangamite. The name of the lake originated from the Aboriginal word for 'bitter', describing the salt content of the lake
Products/Industry: Primary production (beef, crops, dairy, fishing, forestry, sheep, horticulture and organic farming), food processing, manufacturing, retail and tourism.

Monday, July 1, 2013

My political malaise

Lots of things about today ordinarily would have made me euphoric. A huge poll bounce in newspoll for the ALP, a record number of women installed as Ministers in the Government and record number of women in Cabinet. All great news stories in their own right, and worthy of celebration.
But, you can probably tell by my tone, I’m not jumping for joy. Sure, I am still pleased about those things, but in an ‘oh good’ way, not in an ‘Oh, that is bloody fantastic and about time’ way.
You see, I’m still in the hazy, cant believe this has happened aftermath of the change in Prime Minister that happened last Wednesday. It gutted me, such was my disappointment.  Not only did we lose an awesome Prime Minister, who also happened to be one of the best parliamentarians around, and a good person, with compassion, and skills to bring people together, not to mention skills on the international stage where she was respected far more highly than here at home, we also lost her to parliament full stop, as she vowed to not contest the next election. As promised when she called the leadership spill on Wednesday afternoon, in losing the leadership vote, she agreed to leave politics. Respect Julia Gillard, respect. What a shame Kevin Rudd didn’t do the same thing in 2010. Kevin wasn’t even brave enough to test his numbers in 2010 to show the Australian people just why we had to have a change of leader.
I’m still angry with Kevin and angry that his white anting and destabilization have been rewarded, and the destablilisers and white anters behind him have also been rewarded.  What a sorry message that sends out. It further shows me that Julia Gillard truly is a wonderful person that she will not do the same back, that she will give him clear air. Respect Julia, respect.  
Following on from Julia Gillard’s departure is a list of decent and hard working politicians, who will also not contest the 2013 election, people like Craig Emerson, Peter Garrett, Greg Combet and Stephen Smith, and others. I feel sad knowing that this collection of Labor people will no longer be a part of Federal politics. I’m feeling a bit of a dull federal politics malaise.  
For the past 3 years I’ve been passionate and enthusiastic about politics and the future of our country with such ground breaking reforms coming through; things like the NDIS, the Gonski education reforms, carbon pricing to finally tackle climate change. It was like we were doing things that are good for our nation as a whole and our nation’s future, and not just for individual groups or interests. We were fighting the big fights, the difficult battles that have always been put in the too hard basket.  Anyone else leading this hung parliament would have done one of two things
1) gone to an election sooner rather than later, or
2) nothing, just plodded along.
The fact that Julia Gillard took on some of the huge challenges facing our country, and actually passed the legislation makes me burst with pride.
So, whatever Julia, and Craig, Peter et al decide to do post politics, I trust it will be good and worthwhile and I’ll keep a keen eye on the direction they take.   I’ll play along with the political discussion leading up to the election, because no, I don’t want Tony Abbott to become Prime Minister, but I’m not about to march in the street for a Kevin Rudd led ALP…but I would have for Julia.