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.