Monthly Archives: September 2022

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #39

Heading into a new week, each day brings closer the day voters have their ballots arriving in their letterboxes. I have been musing on the role of the letter box in this democratic process. The letter box is almost redundant in our lives. I have even met a young voter who has never posted a letter. The letter box is a legacy of a time when communication was slower, less immediate and mediated by many along the way in the process of sent and received.  Now a simple click of a keyboard and a broadcast can occur, no need for hundreds of hours being added to the price of a stamp.

Our stamps will be changing and EIIR letterboxes will be fading from view. Apparently letter boxes began in Russia in the middle of the 19th century. Long before, people found ways to pop their messages into all kinds of places to be collected from bottles, to secret spaces in walls and being delivered back and forth on horseback.

A postal ballot feels so much less secure to me than a vote cast in the privacy of a booth, in full public view of officials and neighbours. The post box at your home is not that secure, anyone can pull a letter out! I have full confidence of Australia Post making the trip from their boxes to the Electoral Commission safe but not the bit before. Also, I worry that the opportunity for coercion and someone saying they will do the post for someone and then not actually posting their papers feels very real. I am nervous about democracy with a postal vote.

Nevertheless, this is the type of ballots votes will be delivered in October and November for the local government elections in South Australia. It is a postal ballot. The posties of my state will have the sacred duty of aiding democracy when they deliver the ballots to your letter box. This is also a non-compulsory election, so only those motivated to vote will do so. While 85% of rates are made by decision-makers in the City of Onkaparinga, last time round only 26% of voters returned a ballot.

I want people to vote, and I have been asking residents, when I am out door-knocking to vote. I have been asking them if they vote in local government elections. True to the data, three out of four, tell me they have never voted for at a council election. I ask them why and most common answers I hear are:

  • It’s a waste of time, council decide what they want to do anyhow
  • I’ve never met someone running for council, so didn’t know who to vote for
  • I am not a property owner, so I didn’t think I was eligible.

To those people who don’t vote in council elections, it is not a waste of time, make it your business to find out who is running and why check out the Electoral Commission website and start talking to others about the choice you are going to make.

If you haven’t met anyone, this is completely not true once I’ve knocked at your door you know someone, and most people acknowledge this, give a big smile and say how much they appreciate the fact I knocked on their door.

Lots of people are of the impression that if they rent, or share a house with family or friends that they aren’t eligible to vote. They are always happy to hear that they are eligible if they are already on the electoral roll.

If we let other people make decisions for us, our voices won’t be factored in. We have a responsibility to also use our vote and voices for those who don’t have one, including future generations and other species.

Postal non-compulsory voting is the thin edge of the wedge in eroding democratic opportunities. You can help turn this around by using your ballot papers to vote for the people who reflect your values and make visible your preferred community leaders.

Don’t outsource your vote to others, encourage your family, neighbours and friends to do the same. The future is in your hands, once you get the papers out of your letter box and put them back into the hands of the trusted Australia Post letter box.

Photo by Krisztina Papp on Unsplash

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #38

I am confronted by all kinds of dogs when I am knocking on doors campaigning. I am not a dog owner; however, I can deeply appreciate the role they play in people’s lives. They come in all sizes and shapes … and ferocity. One door I knocked on this week I was genuinely shaken by the tone and tenacity of a full-throated bark which clearly belonged to a creature that could tear me from limb to limb if the door opened. Each dog is deeply embedded in the lives of the people who live behind these doors, so I treat their canine companions with deep respect.

There are the dogs whose primary purpose is protection and security. They might offer their centurion status with calm resolute stance ready to pounce should there be an unprovoked or unnecessary movement. Others are more ‘attack first ask questions later’ types. These guardians are the epitome of what front line home defence means. They stand ready to shield their owner from any threat at the door. I am rarely perceived as a threat, and almost every single owner calms the dog and pulls them away from the door so I can be seen and heard. I wish all our inner attack dogs could be controlled so easily. It has got me thinking that perhaps these physical incarnations of protection are short cut ways to set our fears aside having known the message behind the bark has already been sent and so a conversation begins with that as it’s foundation?

Then there are the dogs whose calling seems to be to offer comfort of another kind, the kind that involves cuddling and petting. These dogs are mainly smaller and form a yin yang symbol within the folds of their keepers’ arms. They coo and purr and offer a yap just to remind the caller who they belong too to avoid any confusion or potential abduction. They seem to scurry and hurry to the door and like being part of the greeting – offering a two for the price of one welcome. They are pleased to see you by the look of the wagging tails and equally pleased to see you go so they can go back to their one-on-one adoration fest.

Then there are the dogs, who know they are called to be companions, part-time carers of children, people with disabilities or those who are lonely. They are skilled in mothercraft and there are some I have met that I think should be able to get an NDIS benefit for their capacity to genuinely contribute to the health and wellbeing of their human. They can fetch, watch over, listen, calm, and connect on behalf of their human. Their sensory skills so finely tuned that they know how to help their human navigate their world. These dogs seem to come in all shapes and sizes and at a point, along the way were well trained and their discipline would give any charge nurse a run for their money.

There are many more kinds of dogs in between too – the ones who are not yet sure of their identity and role, and the ones who are nonchalant, and others who can switch roles with a wag of a tail.

With the rise in the number of dogs being brought into family homes during COVID, I expect I will continue to meet more dogs over the coming weeks of the campaign and make visible what matters to their owners and it is an easy route then for me to tune into the person who does answer the door. Thank you to all the dogs I have met so far for being an early detection system before their human opens to the door, it gives me a head start and readies me for a brief conversation.

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #37

Out and about. visiting homes and doorknocking in my local government area, there is genuine and deep respect for the Queen. Many of the doors that opened to me revealed televisions firmly fixed on channels covering all the details of the preparations for her funeral and the retrospectives of a life well-lived. The ‘end of an era’ was the common theme.

Her constant presence from her image on our money, photos in the post office, in our passports will start to disappear and be replaced by her son. She has been a visible example of female leadership for generations and a women’s voice in the conversations with Prime Ministers, Ambassadors, decision-makers, community leaders. There is universal understanding that her presence was calm, considered, occasionally humorous and at all times dignified.

Like an archetypal mother she has presided over a very large dinner table and as matriarch to nations and her own family taken poll position at those tables. I am wondering how that place is now set?  As one era ends and new one begins, what will be the hallmarks of this era?

We know that the new King has a lifelong interest and advocacy around climate, food systems and drives an electric car, is a prolific writer of hand penned thank you letters to staff and volunteers, speaks out about architecture and design, preservation, conservation and supports and uses alternative medicine. These interests and experiences may well have prepared him for these times more than we might first imagine.

The balance of inheritance and acceptance of a legacy as we emerge into a world upon the fixed point of the person who has held the role in the past, is not an exclusive experience for the new monarch. In many ways it is a common ordinary experience, many of us find ourselves having to fit into someone else’s shoes. We pick up the pieces of what has been left behind and to quote a very British phrase, we carry one. We move to the next part of the common journey, but the path ahead is yet to be trod. That is our job to carry what we need to for the next phase, and we can also discard what doesn’t serve us as we go forward.  I expect this will be true for Charles III too. He will set aside what is no longer necessary or relevant for these times and find others might do the same to him and the role he occupies.  I am sure the republican movements in Britain and in Australia will leverage this moment.

The outpouring of love and grief that will become more visible as each day passes will also reveal the grief of certainty ending. Queen Elizabeth II was such a constant and binding figure, her death jars and disrupts that feeling of stability. While the British monarchy and all the forces around it will keep the foundations strong, individual lives have been disrupted, a family has lost a loved one. Communities and countries have caught their breath and taking stock of what it means to have lost a soverign and gained another all in one single breath out and breath in. The Queen is dead, long live the King – is a line in our vocabulary that is no longer in the history pages – having not been uttered since Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. It is such a complete expression of an unbroken thread.

When foundations are shaken, it takes a while for the dust to settle, and it doesn’t all land back in the same place it came from. I expect this will be true on this occasion too. This smooth transition of power, priviliege and influence from one generation to the next will unfold and I am curious to see how the British monarchy emerges and transforms as it arrives at a post-Elizabethan time.

Australian flag at half mast – Moana Surf Life Saving Club 10 September 2022

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #36

Support for my campaign is eeking its way into my visibility this week. When you are on the trail, you spend a lot of time on your own, in the car travelling between appointments and community gatherings, at home signing the backs of cards to drop off saying ‘sorry I missed you’ for the empty houses when door knocking and moments in between. There is a lot of pushing forward, taking a breath to step into a conversation or space. So, when you start to see the threads come together it is very rewarding.

This week I talked with a men’s group who have been meeting together for more than a decade. They were interested in why they should vote for me of course, and I did talk about that, but then we did a round where they all talked about what was important to them. In the buzz over the tea and biscuits it was really delighted to hear the conversations deepen and continue. What gave me heart was one of the participants bragging he had already got a visit from me, but he hadn’t been home, so I’d left a note in his letter box. My appearance at his men’s group confirmed I was real and genuinely interested in listening to him. I was no longer invisible to him, but more importantly, he was no longer invisible to me.

The second revelation came at cancer research fund raiser. I have been encouraged to go by a friend and campaign supporter. I knew no one going. The entertainment was pre-schoolers singing some rhymes. One of my all-time favourites – I’m a little teapot – was the crowd pleaser. Two versions of the song were delivered to an enthusiastic audience of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The first time through we were treated to the original version with all the actions. The second time, it was a mix of rap and Queen – everyone loved it especially the songsters. I had flash backs to my own childhood and my children’s Kindy concerts. The unity of the room was a full and energised as any rock concert. Afterwards I met with the leader of the community who knew I was coming and embraced with a deep and warm greeting. There is something universal about children. We met because someone could see the thread between us and a common desire to bring children’s voices to the fore. That hug was an act of solidarity, arriving through the endorsement of another. A beautiful gift of love made visible.

While out at a community auction last weekend, I missed by a few minutes another candidate pressing the flesh and getting to know different parts of the community. However, I had left behind at the event a few of my supporters wearing my Moira for Mayor badges. The candidate dropped me a note saying she had been wandering around the community auction and several people were wearing my badges. This warmed by heart so much. The work of a small group who I endearingly call the Pinking Shears Collective, was no longer visible. The badges were now circulating, doing their work in the world, providing provocation for conversation, making my campaign visible through the walking billboards of friendly faces and proud chests. This is very heart-warming for me.

Making visible what we believe, who we support, using prompts like badges, introductions and calling cards are the invitations we all need to open up conversations.  This is grass roots campaigning, and I am gratefully, seeing green shoots starting to appear.

Liz Sanders from The Food Embassy giving a speech at my campaign launch.