Tag Archives: Politics

Sparks will fly #2 #NewYork

Here are four sparks from the week. Sparks that have ignited my soul and warmed me in the cool of winter in North America.  Sparks releasing energy to give light and shade. Sparks offering promise and revealing potential. Sparks from the soles of the shoes of this pilgrim that has taken me across the world and home again safely thanks to the generosity of a few and kindness of many along the way.

Spark 1

Simmering thoughts bubbling up in anger sooner or later turn into sparks of inspiration and seem through their friction to open up new possibilities when allowing those sparks to transform and expand their energy. Holding on to the fuse and not letting the energy find its way out can be a source of constriction, pain or at a minimum exasperation.  Wandering around some of the world’s greatest art spaces these past two weeks I was particularly struck by the power of anger as creative energy to get thoughts expressed and forced out through tear ducts, paint brushes and stone.  Solid objects chiselled and honed into beauty through disappointment, fear or aching neglect and words spilling out onto stages where the receptacles of open hearts and minds took the offering to deeper levels as we internalised meaning and applied to our lives. I have been reflecting about what it might look like in my practice and my work to leave nothing left unsaid and bring every single cell of my being into view for public display. The creative soul expressed is vulnerability writ large and empathy unplugged.

Spark 2

Sparks of light creating the in-between spaces and the shadows as well – there are always shadows – to fully accept what is being revealed is to also recognise the shadow created. I have recently been introduced to the contemplative practice of miksang. The Tibetan word means ‘good eye’ and is about the eye being synchronised with the contemplative mind through photography.  It seems to be about seeing as is, empty and free of interpretation. It is based on the Dharma Art teachings of Chogyam Trungpa.  I have not taken a course or read much about it, I have a friend who is a practitioner and I have taken some offerings and suggestions from her as well as witnessed her practice which I have found invitational. I added my immature and beginning steps into miksang with a kind of walking meditation, wandering where my feet took me without a specific destination in mind and tried not to have too many plans to take a right or a left.  It has been refreshing to see as is and to notice what is given and to receive the what is without interpretation, to feel into the seeing. It has led to multiple ways of seeing what is before me, both in real time and in reflection and then again when reviewing photos seeing again with new insights, shadows, patterns, hidden messages in reflected glass, surprising shapes and camouflaged insights revealed more fully a few days later.

Spark 3

Outside of the window I called home for two weeks Lady Liberty was pointing her torch to guide the way as ships came in and out of the river basin into the Atlantic. The Iroquois called it, the Muhhekuntuk, the river that flows both ways, because near the Atlantic it flows north and where it begins in Lake Tear of the Clouds it flows south.  Every day the elements re-arranged themselves around the skyline punctuated by skyscrapers to reveal plenty of light and shade and to offer nuanced ways of seeing the landscape. The sun sometimes casting a beam in between buildings to light up a dark wind tunnel alley way to give some warmth, the clouds closing over to being a mood setting to the scene on a dock worthy of a dramatic New York method acting stage, the twinkling lights acting as a join the dot game for young lovers to play as they set a course for their future.

Spark 4

Being in the USA and soaking up the political climate as well was to recognise the sparks of change igniting a nation that is re-correcting itself post the mid-term elections. The politics of relevance is at play and democracy is in the light and in the shadows. As the extremes define the middle new voices are arriving. The rise of young women in Congress are thrilling for many and terrifying for a few. The reclamation of the gavel by a grandmother is giving comfort and confidence to many in the middle and the juxtaposition with the grandfather in the White House is another expression of the gender wars reverberating around the world. I am so encouraged and enthralled by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who The spark in her is a raging fire, not yet thirty she understands the urgency of this time and is not waiting in line, not waiting for her turn, who is arriving ready, with an agenda to take care of business.  Like the artists she is using her spark to create for us to see what might be hidden, to offer another way of seeing and understanding what might be in front of our eyes. There is discipline in this practice of democracy and she is not leaving anything in the locker room – all of her is being brought into view.




Dancing with Speeches #40 Anna Bligh

In January 2011, Queensland had devastating and deadly floods. The Premier at the time Anna Bligh gave a rallying call to all Queenslanders that inspired and encouraged a nation. She appealed to the tenacious survivor spirit to rise above the waters. In my own state this week a natural disaster has been treated like a political football. Here is a speech Anna might have given if she was in South Australia this week.


Mother Nature rules, and at times like this we are reminded her place in the scheme of things. While we might tame her and guide her to use her energy to keep us warm, safe, fed and housed – there are going to be times when that is not going to happen. This is one of those times. There have been more than 80,000 lightning strikes this afternoon and evening. Electricity towers designed to withstand all weather conditions we normally face here in South Australia could not withstand the cyclonic forces and while over 90% stood tall those that fell over tripped the national grid. This safety measure ensured we could all get power restored as quickly as humanly possible – and there’s the rub – even the super human efforts of our super hero emergency service workers facing the elements of wind, rain and hail, will not get everyone back up with power within a few hours. I am so proud of the efforts and goodwill of South Australians. Despite traffic lights being out all across our capital city not one single accident was reported. This is an astonishing testament to the social cohesion in our community – in times of trouble we respect each other and give way so we all get home safely.

While the grid and connectors are being restored, I am calling on my political allies and colleagues from all persuasions to step up and join me in congratulating our ability as a State to rise to this challenge and keep the lights on.  Let us suspend judgement on why this happened and get the facts first, to look at them in the clear light of day, with a clear head, before we go jumping to conclusions, pointing fingers and worst of all blaming our commitment to renewable energy and being brave enough to work with the power freely given to us by Mother Nature, and while we are all still learning how to manage a national system.

No one was killed on the roads, no one has died from flooding, no one has been killed from a tree falling on them, back up generators kicked in, friends and families gathered around old school transistors to keep up with news and there was plenty of evidence of conversations and board games being re-discovered by candle light all around the State.

Evacuation centres are now in full swing in those parts of the state where flood waters are rising. As always volunteers are at the ready helping in all sorts of ways – filling sand bags, feeding and supporting emergency service teams, making and receiving calls on hotlines to ensure people are safe and feel supported – this is the spirit of South Australia.

We are famous for being the driest State on the driest continent and so when we are faced with these climatic conditions our systems are stretched beyond their limits. We are in unfamiliar territory. We are unaccustomed to seeing torrents, burst banks and overflowing gutters. Our international friends will be shocked to see this as anything strange – but for us it is. The national grid locking us out of power at a time when we might have most needed it – is not a disaster – it was a safety measure built in the system and we were up for the challenge. The danger of being out in the weather was heeded and I thank you all for being sensible and staying away from rising waters, crossing flooded streams and being off the roads as much as possible.

Finally I want to say one thing to my political colleagues who have been swift to blame South Australia’s race towards renewables as being in the mix for the power going off. Friends, we will not go backwards. South Australia’s colonial beginnings were experimental, we have always incubated new ways and been prepared to innovate and take steps forward to address and indeed herald the future. This storm tripping the system is Mother Nature’s nudge to get us to all work together to ensure we have secure energy for all Australians – not just those who are using old world power sources or live on the east coast. We are leaders in renewables and will be bringing all of the rest of the country with us. In the not too distant future, we will be thankful this happened first to a State with the capacity and tenacity to fix a problem quickly and move past the pain to solutions so we can all have a future where the best engineering, technologies and systems will deliver energy that powers a nation more dependent on the elements.

Thank you once again to the crews all across the State who are working in this recovery period to restore what has been lost and keeping us safe.


Dancing with Speeches #27 Malcolm Turnbull

An angry Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stepped into the Wentworth Ball Room a place that has been home to highs and lows for decades for the Liberal Party, a conservative political party in Australia. His speech failed on so many levels, accountability, respect for the office, compassion and commiserations for colleagues who had lost their seats. Various commentators have already had their say, my dance is to re-write the speech.

My fellow Australians and Party members– thank you for coming out tonight to join me in raking over the coals on what has been a long campaign. These past eight weeks we have traversed the nation, I have listened in to the broken hearts of Tasmanians who lost their homes and livelihoods in floods, I have laughed along with children in schools taking in more STEM subjects to prepare them for the new economy which is already here and that they will be shaping, I have jumped on trains, trams and buses and made promises to consolidate the transport infrastructure our capital cities will need to be competitive and attractive to investors and workers. I have been humbled by the wonder and creativity of our greatest minds, entrepreneurs and risk takers willing to step up to the challenges ahead and inspire us to finance their ventures.

Tonight we sadly farewell those who have stood alongside of us in the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Australians. Everyone who lost their seat on our side of the house took their electorates to the wire – I personally want to thank Wyatt Roy and Peter Hendry for their support and I am sorry I won’t have them to call on in the next Parliament.

I am shocked there isn’t a clear result tonight, and we have to hear what this means for our Australia – while there is a division and uncertainty ahead – it is time for us to take a collective breath and realize that our vision and dreams for this country are not shared. People are worried and scared that they will be left out and left behind, the poorest communities moved further away from our values and into the arms of populist politicians and some even to the very edge of the most racist and acrimonious of views.

I take responsibility for the result. I could have called the election earlier and ridden on the wave of the honeymoon when I was first elected by the party room, I could have waited a few more months to the time when the election would have been due and not pulled the double dissolution trigger, I did neither – I took us to an election to get a clear mandate for industrial relations legislation to be passed by both houses – that was clearly a mistake as tonight’s result shows. The Senate will be less unified than it was 2 months ago and I am not sure we will be able to form even a minority government, only the days ahead as our wonderful Australian Electoral Commission staff, plough their way methodically through each and every ballot paper to make sure every vote counts.

Having a vote is the right of every citizen and we will honour that right by allowing the AEC to take the time they need to do that work without political interference.

I turn to my staff, my friends in the party and most of all my family and say thank you for all you do for me and for our nation. Your steadfast belief in our shared values is like oxygen to me and tonight while my heart beats furiously and I am somewhere between shame and fear and feel starved of air, it is your care and love that will help me through the night and the days and nights ahead as the results of the election are revealed with each ballot counted.

Living with uncertainty and managing complexity is the challenge for all modern leaders. During these days and nights, while we wait, I will look carefully at the results and listen to what the electorate has said and notice what the votes mean around the country and for my leadership and for the leadership of our party.

Thank you to all of you staying up so late and waiting with me in what feels a bit like the Garden of Gethsemane and I look forward to fronting you again in a few days with news that is clearer than what we have tonight.