Very strange it’s been, watching Australia’s politics from afar. I do a quick read of the papers and the ABC site online every day, so I knew Kevin was having iss-ewes, but doesn’t every prime minister, and don’t the papers always say there’s trouble in the lead up to the election and so on.
Then, the night before the party room vote, I was freaked well and truly out. I didn’t understand what was happening. I made a quick skype call home, ‘What’s happening?’ I asked, and my friend watched Lateline for us both, even coming back with the notes she’d taken so she wouldn’t forget anything. But I still didn’t really understand. From this distance, it looked like the beginning of one of those messy, messy times where someone challenges, doesn’t win but doesn’t lose decisively, then no one is convinced of anything, no one trusts anyone and all of a sudden Tony Abbott comes along and wins the next election. My friends, I was scared.
At the same time, I’m exactly the same as all othe women of my age, political persuasion and so forth. To me, Julia really should’ve led the ALP in the last election. So when I went to bed, I was like, Far out, this really could be it.
And it was.
Wow. Julia. I did get goosebumps, and I did cry when I woke up the next morning, and switched the computer on before I’d properly opened my eyes. Oh, wow.
For the first time in perhaps ever, I will be voting for a party led by someone I want to see as our Prime Minister (never was a Keating fan I’m afraid – do think he’s quite something, but he was just never quite my cup of Prime Ministerial tea).*
I haven’t really read heaps about it all, because on the day it happened, I went off to my last day of work (had to quit my job, long story involving reasons and tears beyond reason), then went home, packed my bags and caught the 2.30 am flight to Istanbul, but I have seen quite a bit of rubbish recorded in the words I have read.
For example, I read someone say that this was the most underhand move since the dismissal. That’s just bloody stupid. Here’s the thing: when was there ever a graceful change of leaders in Australian politics? Myself, I’m not so hot on the ALP’s machinations, bit concerned about the apparent influence of the media and so on. But there’s a pretty big gap between this and the dismissal. Also, Tony Abbott saying there would never be anything like it in the Liberal party. Good grief. Dude, even the bloke who was at the centre of the dismissal thinks you’re nasty.
And another thing: don’t use the word ‘coup’, just don’t. It’s completely inaccurate and it’s bloody disrespectful. We live in a democracy,** and we get to vote without fearing for our lives, and no tanks rolled up to the steps of Parliament House, and Kevin Rudd got the opportunity to make a dignified farewell speech and no one got locked up, and no one has disappeared, and actually elected representatives voted on it, and whether you like it or not that is the way Australian politics works. And you know what? If you don’t like it, you can bang on about it as much as you like. You can write about it on your blog, you can ring talkback radio, you can start your own ‘I’d never backstab anyone’ party, you can even meet Kevin Rudd for a drink and discuss it with him if you like. You can do all those things because it wasn’t a coup.
Anyway, enough of the don’ts and back to the dos. Do say yay.
Yay to the day Quentin swore in Julia.
(UPDATE acksherlly, as a couple of people have pointed out there wasn’t a vote, Kevin Rudd stood aside. Also, ‘whether you like it or not’ is a bit clumsy and leaves the impression that I think we should just accept the way the ALP goes about things. Again with the acksherlly, I don’t believe we should accept it – for myself, I don’t like it at all, and it’s one of my real issues with the ALP, and in fact, it’s one of the reasons I carry out my activism outside political parties. But I still maintain it was done with a broadly democratic process, and enough with the use of ‘coup’)
*strictly speaking, I won’t be voting for them, because I vote Greens these days, but of course, I effectively vote for the ALP. I can’t really see my reasons for voting Greens changing, though I’d happily change back to the ALP if they started backing public education again instead of building on the Howard-era scarifying of it, and if they showed a bit of humanity on the refugee and asylum seeker side of things (and there’s a few other things, but to me, if they’re getting those things right, then they’re prolly doing other stuff I like too)
**well, technically speaking, I don’t live in a democracy at the moment, but you know what I mean when I say ‘we’