The Australian electorate has corrected and leant into what matters to them – the Uluru Statement from the Heart, gender equity, integrity, climate justice, community leadership, grassroots campaigning. To say I am relieved is an understatement. There were tears before bedtime.
I started election day at dawn letting my four isa brown hens out of their coop. I made a large thermos of lemon ginger tea, put a folding table into the car that I had borrowed from my daughter. The table joined two A – Frames with the future PM on one side, a local candidate on the other and the leader of the Senate on another, a box of how to vote fliers, a basket with an apple from my friend’s Mum and Dad’s tree and a banana from the local Drakes supermarket. The basket was a gift from another friend whose Mum is a bit of a hoarder and in a clean out after a health emergency, I was thrilled to take the basket which I make very good use of on a regular basis in a Red Riding Hood kind of way with deliveries of eggs, produce from my garden and fruit that hangs over the fence into my garden, which at this time of the year are lemons and feijoas. I also popped in a table cloth in, which actually started out as a sarong that I bought for a few dollars in a market in Bali and unpicked the seam so I could use it as a table cloth. It is a mix of reds in batik. I was in Bali with a dear friend after my husband died for a visit while she was volunteering there a few years ago.
As I arrived at the community hall with the sun still rising and unfurled the ingredients for my contribution to the pop up polling booth, I noticed all these things I had brought and how each of them had a strong connection to my story, and to women who are and have been sojourners. It was incredibly comforting in the crisp morning to be warmed by these memories and the journeys we all take to get from one part of our lives to the next. Surely this is exactly the relationship between the invisible and visible? We touch into the invisible threads that weave our cloth and as the pattern emerges the future is revealed by what is already been sown. This forecast from the threads, like any evening weather report giving us a prediction for the days ahead, with room for error and surprise despite being based on solid data.
Returning to my polling booth kit. The thermos was bought several years ago to use at community events and gets an outing occasionally. I gave a cuppa to my fellow how-to-vote hander outerer who was shivering with the cold and her young hands warmed themselves on the mug. One of the other volunteers from another party asked if he could buy a drink from me from the thermos and I insisted he didn’t and just poured him a cup. He was delighted and surprised with this simple act of humanity – this is the civility of our democracy. The apple in my basket was grown in a suburban garden, the tree being planted many years ago. It came to me via a woman who has returned to Australia after many years away, we met when she was a young staffer of a former State Premier. The apple was delicious and as crisp and as crunchy as the day promised. I am so thrilled she is back and I am already feeling the benefit of her being here. The apple a down payment on many more moments of goodness to be exchanged. More invisible love made visible in every bite. The love of a promise when the tree was first planted, the love of parents nourishing the tree and their daughter, the love of fresh fruit to generously share, the love of healthy choices.
As the morning warmed up and making a choice not to stand in the shade, it was joyful to see voters of all ages, shapes and sizes, with or without small children and bigger or smaller dogs, make their way to the polling booth. The transfer of power went smoothly from one leader to another. The people’s result will bring a more kind, collaborative and diverse government.
What was invisible to the pollsters algorithms, to the commentors and mainstream media, became visible to us all. We are a nation with values and who find ourselves in place, communities matter and we do have big picture aspirations for climate, gender equity, our responsibilities in the world, our care for the vulnerable. We do want our parliament to look like us, we have moved beyond the binary. This is my kind of Australia. I can’t wait to help on the referendum that will now come with the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We are the regeneration generation.