Tomorrow, when I fly in, I’m coming home to a political situation that most Australians think is a dog’s breakfast. What’s happening is ugly as. It’s infuriating. Messy. I agree. It is and it needs to be sorted out.
But unlike what happened in 2010, when Australia went to bed with one prime minister and woke up to another, now we have time.
This leadership ballot is happening in caucus, the group of 103 Labor MPs and senators we elected, but that doesn’t mean it is not our vote.
We are their employers. My Dad works for me. I often remind him of that. He is my local member and I helped put him there. I walked into a church hall and in the privacy of a polling booth I put a one next to his name.
You’re all employers too. You might not be related to your employees, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have access to them. When they aren’t doing their jobs, you can tell them. When they are misbehaving, you can reprimand them.
I live in Beijing, a city with a population the size of our whole nation—twenty-two million people.
Like us, they get up in the morning. They have a shower and wonder if their favourite top is dry yet. They get dressed and go to work. They have lunch with their colleagues and bitch about HR. At the end of the day they swap heels for runners and go home. They order dinner from the grease-stained menus on the fridge, call their mum and switch on the telly.
At the same time each night on almost every free-to-air TV station all over China is the same national news broadcast. I don’t mean it’s similar, I mean the exact same show. In sync. You can flick between stations and the same guy is on your screen telling you what is going on, or at least what he’s allowed to tell you is going on.
You can’t just go, ‘this is boring, that guy’s tie is feral—I wonder what’s happening over on The Project.’
You can’t write to your local MP about it because you don’t have one and a complaint to the network is a complaint to the government.
When you watch international stations like the BBC and CNN, stories about China often disappear. The screen goes blank.
There’s no Twitter or Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, there are social media platforms and they’re epic. But in China it’s all still new and risky. People do say what they think but they worry about the consequences. Controversial posts are mysteriously removed from China’s equivalent of Twitter, Weibo. They just vanish.
We, the people of Australia, are different. We have power.
We are not a passive audience in a crowded cinema with popcorn on our laps waiting for the previews to end.
We are participants. We have a voice and I think we should bloody well use it. Get up and say something. Say it loudly. Be heard.
You might think Julia Gillard is the ant’s pants. Fab. Say it.
You might think my Dad is ace. Cool. Write it.
You might think everyone sucks. Scream it.
Tweet something. Rant on Facebook. Put a video on YouTube. Put a sign on your front fence. Have a chat with your neighbour. Tell your friends. Email your local MP. Ring them up. Stop them at the news agent and make them listen. Call your local radio station. Have a rally Vote in an online poll. Write a song about it. Get on Mamamia and say, ‘OMG she’s just saying that because she’s KRudd’s daughter.’
Look, I know the parliament can seem alien at times—believe me, it’s even weirder when you’re there—but it is not out of reach. It’s ours. We own it.
Let’s own this spill, people. Let’s make it ours. Make your MPs work for you. Tell them what you want. Because unlike my mates in China, we have no excuse for simply sitting back and letting it happen.
Jessica Rudd, is a Canberra-born, Brisbane-raised ex-lawyer, ex-campaign worker and ex-PR consultant who lives with her husband in Beijing. She has written the occasional column, a host of legal letters, countless press releases and two novels Ruby Blues and Campaign Ruby.
So, if you were in caucus, which way would you vote?
Editor’s Note: We’ve been surprised that some readers have not understood that this is an opinion piece so we thought it might be helpful to clarify a few points. Jessica Rudd is the daughter of Kevin Rudd who is expected to challenge Julia Gillard for leadership of the ALP on Monday. That much is clear. Neither Jessica nor Mamamia is purporting this piece to be impartial political analysis. Jessica is not Laurie Oakes and has never pretended to be. But she is someone with a unique and undeniably newsworthy insight into the biggest news story in Australia this week.
Mamamia publishes opinion pieces every day and sometimes they are political. We publish views from the left, the right and everywhere in between. Tony Abbott, Jenny Macklin, Kate Ellis, Julia Gillard, Sarah Hanson Young and Malcolm Turnbull are among politicians who have had opinion pieces published on Mamamia in the past 12 months.
Mamamia is not the ABC but we do try hard to publish a variety of views to reflect the diversity of our audience but also TO START CONVERSATIONS among you, our readers. Because we don’t ever underestimate your intelligence. We know that you can see who wrote a post and make your own assumptions about their beliefs and motivations.
We are proud to publish Jessica’s posts here on Mamamia, just as we always have been. Yes, the invitation has been extended to any other politician or family member of a candidate who has something to say about this extraordinary and quite bizarre time in federal politics.
That invitation is ongoing.
And we are also pleased to announce the appointment of our first dedicated political correspondent for Mamamia, journalist Lauren Dubois who today files her first of many upcoming pieces from Canberra which you can read here.
– Mia Freedman