Independent women and the Greens paved the way for Labor to show Scott Morrison’s LNP the door. Now they can get on with keeping the bastards honest, writes Sunny Grace.
It was a surreal evening, Saturday, 21 May, watching the ABC’s Antony Green jitterbug around the stage in front of various screens, running on a mixture of adrenaline and anxiety, trying to call the strangest election in recent history. No one really knew what to expect and many of us were holding our breath, not daring to hope for change in fear of jinxing ourselves with a repeat of 2019.
As the numbers slowly came through, delayed by preferences from a high number of postal and pre-poll votes, a slim sense of optimism rose, along with a twinkle in the ABC presenters’ eyes. Although Tanya Plibersek wasn’t having a bar of it, still scarred by 2019.
I felt nervous too. Like I was watching my favourite football team take the lead but aware they could lose it all again in the final quarter. Ironically my football team, Adelaide Crows, were playing at the same time and I channel hopped between the two to try and ally some anxiety. To no avail, however, as the Crows’ early promise was overtaken by St Kilda prowess. I hoped this wasn’t going to be reflected in the election too.
Returning to the election coverage, despite the promising news of teal independents taking seats, I was still nervous. Holding my breath. The return of Zali Steggall, who so wonderfully dethroned Tony Abbott back in 2019, came first. Then other teals gained ground in Kooyong, Menzies’ old seat. Who would believe that? And they kept coming. By 10.30 pm, Antony Green called it: despite many seats being too close to call there was no way the Coalition could win. The teal independents and the Greens had made the difference. Tanya Plibersek, myself and the nation allowed ourselves to take a breath.
But even when Scott Morrison finally conceded I was still in a state of hypervigilance. Just in case. It wasn’t until Albo made his speech late that night my eyes filled with tears. There was something very satisfying for the daughter of a single mother on the pension to see another child of a single mother on a pension achieve his dream through sheer dogged determination.
He may not have the flair of Whitlam but there is something quite admirable about Albo. It also helps he was once in a punk band. The photo of him as a young uni student struck a chord with many of us Gen X-ers and filled my Facebook feed on election day as a kind of call to arms.
The issues that swayed the nation are issues that fell on the deaf ears of the Coalition; climate change, First Nations rights, women’s rights, diversity and inclusion, refugees and the arts. All issues close to my heart. I felt my heart fill with some pride in my fellow Australians for voting for the greater good as opposed to their hip pockets. There has been much written about how not addressing these issues led to the rise of the teal independents who were disaffected by the Liberal Party in a similar way to the Democrats back in 1977.
I am so proud of the women who stood up literally and said enough is enough. No more gaslighting, harassment, bullying or belittling. We will not stand for it anymore. I am so proud of the allies around the country standing up for us. I am so inspired to see the most diverse parliament in Australia’s history. A long way to go until equality but a step in the right direction.
At the time of writing, the Coalition is in disarray, casting around for a new leader to try to connect once again with the people of Australia. They seem to think their only option at this stage is Peter Dutton, a right-wing conservative cut from similar cloth to Scott Morrison. Wouldn’t you read the room and maybe take a punt on someone with a new angle for the party. Perhaps a woman? What do they have to lose? I guess some people never learn.
The young Democrat in me is smiling because once again there are people in Canberra who have the capacity to keep the bastards honest in both the House of Reps and the Senate. Some seats are still to be determined but Albo has the backing of enough Greens and independents to form a government. He said he would get straight to work, and he has, out in the world representing this country with a better sense of self.
Whilst the world is still in a tumultuous state with climate change, war and pandemics coming thick and fast, I feel a sense of hope for the first time in years, because there are some decent people running our country, who seem care about more than their self interests and want to make change.
Bring it on.
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