crazyjane: (Default)
2017-08-08 09:35 pm
Entry tags:

Why we need to participate in the Marriage Equality plebiscite

Why we must vote in the Marriage Equality plebiscite
by Marian Weaver


Any way you slice it, the postal plebiscite is a nasty, but effective, piece of political maneuvring. Let’s leave aside the idea of the direct plebiscite - the Parliament won’t pass that legislation. This is, of course, precisely why the government has fallen back on the postal option.

It’s a win-win situation for the Coalition, albeit an expensive one ($122 million). The postal plebiscite is voluntary, which means many people just won’t bother sending back their ballots. You only have to look at other countries who use voluntary voting to see that only those who are particularly motivated tend to show up on polling day, or send in their postal votes. At the last US presidential election, less than half of registered voters turned out (46.1%), and that was considered relatively high. Assuming a similar turnout for the postal plebiscite (and this is by no means guaranteed), less than half of Australia’s eligible voter population would be sending in their ballots. These would tend to be organised groups with an agenda to push, rather than individuals - and while some of these would be extremely pro-Marriage Equality, there are also numerous, influential groups who are already involved in mounting campaigns of shrill misinformation and scaremongering to convince people that a positive outcome would threaten all sorts of social disasters.

A postal plebiscite will, the government promises us, trigger a bill to bring about Marriage Equality (which they persistently mischaracterise as ‘same-sex marriage’, completely ignoring the needs and rights of trans and intersex folks). Voting on that bill would be a conscience vote - again, mischaracterised as a ‘free’ vote. No matter what the result of the plebiscite, no one will be ‘forced’ to vote for Marriage Equality if they are really set against it.

Now, this is a bit of a furphy. A government can’t force a conscience vote on the Parliament. They can call for one, they can even declare one. The decision, however, is a matter for the party room (or, in the case of the ALP, the national conference). The ALP have already declared that their national policy is to pass Marriage Equality, as have the Greens. Unless one of their members chooses to cross the floor and defy the party, that means all of them will vote for Marriage Equality. Several minor party members have also already called for a bill to be presented (and to drop this absurd idea of a plebiscite, postal or not). There’s also no guarantee that the National Party (the Liberal Party’s Coalition partners) will allow a conscience vote. Their antipathy towards the mere idea of Marriage Equality is well-known. That means, then, that only the Liberals will vote as each MP or Senator sees fit.

This might seem encouraging. With 7 Liberal members already calling for a Marriage Equality bill, the chances are good it would pass the House. They’re even better that it would pass the Senate, and be signed into law. So why is the postal plebiscite such a problem?

It all comes down to participation. Many people in favour of Marriage Equality have already called for people not to fill in their ballots (even going so far as to suggest a public protest including burning the papers). The ‘no participation until full equality’ idea is taking root. It is completely understandable. The idea of a plebiscite to ask people 'if they mind letting the gays marry' is offensive in the extreme. Prime Minister John Howard didn’t bother asking people in 2004 if they wanted him to change the Marriage Act to narrowly define marriage as being a union between a man and a woman. He simply went ahead and did it. No plebiscite, no referendum, nothing. Just an amendment passed through the Parliament. (Apparently, though, that’s not good enough for our current government.)

There is a huge problem, however, in non-participation, either through protest or simple laziness - and this is where the really nasty thing about this postal plebiscite resides.

You can just bet that those groups who are vehemently anti-Marriage Equality - most vocally, the Australian Christian Lobby - will be voting. In fact, given their past record, these groups will already be organising ‘get out the vote’ initiatives. Their disgusting campaign of misinformation is ramping up - accusations that gay people are all paedophiles, that children from same-sex relationships are abused by simple virtue of the fact they don’t have a ‘mum’ or ‘dad’, and the revolting nonsense that LGBTI people are unnatural, dangerous, and just plain perverted. If you need proof, go take a look at their campaign against the Safe Schools program. But have a strong stomach. I recommend not eating beforehand.

If they are the only voices exhorting people to vote a certain way in this plebiscite (or, indeed, voting at all), there will be no voices standing up to them. No groups or people pointing out how bigoted and wrong these ideas are. And that means some people may well decide to vote based on this terrible vendetta, ‘just to be safe’.

Don’t get me wrong, the postal plebiscite is awful. It’s insulting, and it’s predicated on the idea that LGBTI people are in some way second-class citizens. It took a referendum before indigenous people were recognised as human beings - but a referendum is binding. A plebiscite is not. It implies that the government sees queer people as even less worthy of being treated as human, with all the rights to which they are entitled.

But - and this is where is gets horrible for those of us (queer, allies, or just plain decent people) who support that idea of Marriage Equality. Participation gives tacit approval to this ridiculous waste of money and time. Participation means that our argument that we deserve the same rights as others can be undermined.

If we don’t participate, though, there is a very good chance that the plebiscite will fail. And if that happens, the government has the justification it needs to keep doing what is has done so far - nothing. It will even have justification - after all, they asked the people, and the people said no. Even if that’s only 20% of the people. Even if that’s only those groups motivated by such entrenched opposition to the idea of Marriage Equality that they will literally say anything to push their point. What will matter to the government is nothing more than figures - because figures can be twisted to mean whatever they wish them to mean. And you can just bet the government will use a low turn-out to argue that, ‘clearly’, this issue is a low priority to the Australian people.

We need to participate in this dreadful plebiscite, as much as we might hate every moment of it. The government has put us in the position where we don’t have the luxury of refusing. By simply holding a plebiscite - direct or postal - they can say they’ve kept their promise. If the result is negative, they are excused from having to bring a bill before the Parliament. They can argue that there are important issues that are more deserving of the government’s attention than re-litigating an issue that they’ve already ‘resolved’.

The only way to break even in this situation is to participate, and to do so with as many voices as possible. We need to meet the anti-Marriage Equality groups on their own ground - the public arena. We need to be talking to media, talking to our groups and our friends, telling people that they need to vote - and why they need to vote. We need to acknowledge that it’s a terrible situation (as one friend put it, a ‘shit sandwich’), but it’s the only one we have right now. Otherwise, we are gambling on the prospect that Labor will win next year’s election, and be able to form a government that would bring on a Marriage Equality bill. And yes, there’s more chance that Labor will keep its promise, but we can’t say when that would happen, or even if it would pass.

By participating, we put pressure on the government. It’s done a deal with the devil by coming up with this postal plebiscite. The Prime Minister knows he has the beginnings of a back-bench revolt on his hands, and this is the best stopgap measure he can devise. He’s hoping the plebiscite will fail, and can therefore try to get away from this issue.

Don’t let him.



(This article is licensed under Creative Commons. It may be shared in whole or in part, with author attribution. Please share widely.)
crazyjane: (shit_list)
2016-11-12 06:39 pm

RANT FOLLOWS

Read it, or not. Either way, I've had it.


Oh, it's so fucking easy to just 'blame the Left' for Trump, or the Tories, or Australia's Liberal government, isn't it? As if there's some monolithic group called 'the Left' who sit in their elite cafes with their chai lattes and refuse to 'understand the plight of the working class'. As if people who can't even claim the right - the fucking right - to get married are at fault because others bitch that it's somehow evil. As if people who just want to live through their own faith - and this is the important part - and not try to force others to do the same, somehow threaten the country.

Wake. The fuck. UP. Maybe there is a fundamental disconnect at work here - but blaming 'the Left' and insisting that they need to change achieves nothing but further repression and licence for bigotry. We're supposed to look to our leaders for guidance on how to behave. When those leaders either tacitly give the nod, or actively encourage the kind of behaviour we've seen in the last year, it is not incumbent on us to roll over and show our bellies, and apologise for being in the way of someone's fist or someone's screamed Nazi slogan.

By now, everyone's aware of the immediate effects of Trump's victory in the US Presidential election. Look at the Lefties out in the streets! What are they protesting against, if they didn't want Trump as President, they should have voted for Hillary, don't they know that? Typical professional protesters, never satisfied. That's what we're hearing now from most media, who are falling all over themselves to preserve their ad buys and their access to a new administration.

What they're not saying is that in just a few days, hate crimes have skyrocketed. Go and check out Shaun King's Day 1 in Trump's America for just a sample of how some people have become emboldened to the point of flagrantly assaulting others in broad daylight - and all for the 'crime' of being a person of colour, or a woman (especially a Muslim woman with her oh-so-offensive hijab). Read LGBTI news for the stories of people afraid to show any form of affection for their same-sex partners, for trans people wondering whether it would be 'safer' for them to pretend to be the gender they've never felt they were. Read about the people frightened to the point of being suicidal - and those who already have killed themselves.

This is not confined to the US, though. Go back and read about how British people turned on each other after the Brexit vote. The ones who thought it was somehow perfectly acceptable to scream that those who 'looked like Pakis' (excuse the term) were going to be forcibly booted out of the country. The ones who though it was a good idea to heave bricks through the windows of grocery shops, or follow Muslim women down the street threatening to rape them.

Oh, and just in case it wasn't clear to any of my fellow Australians ... we are no better. Remember the anti-Muslim protests that led to white supremacists assaulting those who stood in solidarity with community members who had legally bought land and received permission to build mosques? (And oh, how jocular that was, when the same people who condemned Muslim women for wearing the hijab covered their own faces with beanies, sunglasses and Australian flag bandannas.) And that's not all. There's the continual anger and despair with which our own LGBTI people have to live because our Prime Minister keeps caving in to those in his government who think there's nothing wrong with denying them equal human rights. The inbuilt prejudice against indigenous people, infantilised by having their benefits sequestered without their consent. The automatic assumption that people with mental health problems are either dangerous, or malingerers who don't 'deserve' our help. The fear with which trans people live every day, because somehow, if they can even muster the courage to report those who assault them to the police, they are to 'blame' for what happened to them.

These are the people that are supposedly 'the Left'. These are the people who live in cities, who get out of small rural communities are soon as they can - because it's the only way they can survive as themselves. Because there's a chance, even just a small one, that in the cities, they can find communities who support them.

These are the people who wept when Trump won the Electoral College (though not the popular vote), and then took to the streets. Who cried out in fear and anger when Britain barely voted to leave the European Union. Who punch walls in frustration and wonder whether marching yet again is ever going to move an Australian government that cares more about lobbyists who seem to have a permanent hold on its policy.

Don't tell me that the Left are to blame. When I see hundreds of queer people hiding their faces and beating the hell out of a bunch of white supremacists, then maybe ... maybe I'll concede that there's equal blame for this shitty fucking situation. I'll own my intolerance for those who refuse to let me, and my friends, live our lives and love as we wish.

The difference - the crucial, essential difference - is that I don't try to make others live as I live.

You want to hate me? Fine. Just don't think that voting in some candidate gives you licence to act on that hate.
crazyjane: (moondark)
2016-01-16 11:27 pm
Entry tags:

reading poetry

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.


John Clare
crazyjane: (Default)
2015-04-13 07:28 am
Entry tags:

Poetry month - The Journey, by Mary Oliver

THE JOURNEY - Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.


from New and Selected Poems, volume 1
crazyjane: (poetry)
2015-04-09 03:41 pm
Entry tags:

Poetry month Mo(u)rning, by Serena Mithane

Mo(u)rning
- Serena Mithane




you cannot grow daffodils
between brittle bones-
in ribcages worn down
from a heart beating against it
to break free. you hum
bluebird melodies to yourself
make-believing morning dew
makes it better. you have mistaken
eyelashes for the meadows,
fleeting visions running barefoot-
carelessly, spinning - hoping
spring will come early this year.
your fingertips have never learned
the meaning of earth: discovery
of digging nails deeper into surfaces.
trembling, underneath shifting skylines,
blanketed in wisps of dandelions-
early morning light will not heal
the frostbite creaking in your joints.

he is not coming home today, either.

via deviantart
crazyjane: (poetry)
2015-04-05 05:18 pm
Entry tags:

Poetry month - Continental Drift, by yours truly

Continental drift
- Marian Weaver



He started wearing new suits
and leather shoes.
She cut her hair.
They read different books,
and faced away from each other in bed.


Published in NFusion 50
crazyjane: (Default)
2015-04-04 04:44 pm
Entry tags:

Poetry month - let the dead rise, by Raya

let the dead rise
by Raya


paper sits on the wooden table & doesn't know what touch feels like.

& what of touch — indelicate, I didn't intend to cocoon it beneath a shell
conditioned not to break. a pen, I am thinking, touching: I can write

mother's body is not a sunday dress an ambulance collects
& hauls down the street for the examiner to unstitch, for the mortician
to suture back & breathless. I have to believe that


I can write:

mother's body is not a dead thing I watch others gently pack into soil


where above, someone erects stone that reads: she rests in peace.

my grandmother calls peace heaven, & I say what she calls heaven is earth
swallowing a person. I say we are Abraham sacrificing the son without lamb.



via deviantart
crazyjane: (poetry)
2015-04-03 07:05 pm
Entry tags:

Poetry month - Untitled, by Megan

Poem

There's a star in the sky
that makes me think of you

That star shines so bright
that it light's up the entire night sky
Just like you shine so bright
that you light up my whole life

But then your life started to fade
you light becoming so dull
and you said that you knew that your time had come

As you started to go, crystalline tears flowed down my face
wishing that this was all just a dream, but it wasn't

Now whenever I look at the stars
I find myself trying to find that one shining star

When I look a that star I find myself starting to smile
remembering all the times you made me smile

So now that you're gone
here's my poem from me to you
a poem to let you know
that even though you're gone
and that your light may have faded
there is one little piece of that light
that still shines so bright
one little fragment that of your light
that I keep locked inside my heart
-Megan


Untitled poem, by my daughter Megan
crazyjane: (poetry)
2015-04-02 10:00 am
Entry tags:

Poetry month - The Mortician

The Mortician, by ~crooked-clockwork
(via deviantart)


january: when i was stupid
enough to embark down the
path of death.


mortician, teach me the ways
of understanding death
& listening
a bit too close
to the broken clock
springs nestled
in your equally as broken
mind. i have grown
quite fond of the
smell of formaldehyde,
of the citrus oxides
you deploy to
deter suspicious neighbors.

i want to sleep
& dream of a body all my
own (& maybe for you too), to forget the
scars that caress me, but what i
desire
isn’t always death’s
cup of tea. however, it always
seems like it’s your pleasure
to show me the books on
burials & committals & cults
skirting the ideals of the bible
to better under the world’s
bible of empathy.
so i sit,
split in between an existence
bent on our nirvana,
or an afterlife sewn
into the paper-thin-morale of
you, mortician.

july: when i finally realized
that love is real
even in the presence of death.


mortician, teach me how to
smile without my
skeleton wilting under
the moon’s
unforgiving,
courage-crushing grasp. i want
to know,
i long to break ties
with the leviathan
we call God. to rejoice with
your idea of
warmth, with
your idea of mortality.

the art of embalmment? you’ll
have to forgive me
if i flinch,
if i shy away at first;
i’ve only ever known
the familiar sting
of a needle piercing my own skin,
not forcing a tube
into the veins
of a child
blessed with escape.
why do we all have to be so fragile?
“it’s simple,” the mortician responded.
“because we are not meant
to outlast our forefathers. we, as humans,
are not meant to age
alongside the concept of time,
nor are we meant to
live through the war, the battle
we call life.”

december: when i noticed a child
trying to kick out my ribs &
i felt comfortable in the arms of death.


mortician, finally i ask
for your hand in
marriage,
under the sun of that
monster we call our guardian,
under the forceps of
a distinct, medicinal glove carving
out my philosophies that
you never taught to me. i’ve never
loved a man so
much, nor as violently
as i have you… entertain my
idiocy,
for all i have ever wanted
was to fall victim to your hands,
to your needles,
to your teachings of death
& to learn from you
how to deal
with dying.

the ice we tread is
weak, as we are,
as you have taught me
through the many nights your hands crept up
my thighs,
through the many times your heart beat
separate from mine
& you would let me
cry. but mortician,
can you explain life to
me? just this once
i’d like to know why my thoughts
go faster when you’re coiled around my mind,
around my body
like a disease weaving cancer
into my bone marrow.

“it’s merely because you are human,
you want to understand life.
i cannot explain, because i am a fool
that life never wanted.
i found solace in the dead,
in the art associated with the occasion
of death. but, with my child
beginning to live
inside of you, protected by
your bones,
& by your love,
i can admit:

death no longer needs me.”


The Mortician, by crooked-clockwork
crazyjane: (moondark)
2015-03-30 06:24 pm

Richard III - re-interment elegy

For my DW/LJ friends who are Shakespeare and/or poetry geeks - the elegy for Richard III's re-interment, written by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and performed by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch (who will play Richard in The Hollow Crown later this year). It brought tears to my eyes. I've included the transcript below.


Richard

My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead …

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.

-- Carol Ann Duffy
crazyjane: (eclipse)
2014-09-23 06:05 pm
Entry tags:

the medication merry-go-round

After being very, very low for the last few weeks, I finally got to see my shrink today. It was a bloody awful experience; I felt like I was letting him down by saying that the medication cocktail I'm currently taking has stopped working. Or rather, it keeps me from cycling up into a manic state, but does nothing to deal with the depression. And I had to tell him that, and felt bad about it. How stupid.

He's decided to put me back on Zoloft, even though it caused a manic episode way back when - in fact, that's how I first got diagnosed as bipolar, when he prescribed Zoloft for the depression. He's pretty sure that the mood stabilisers I also take will counter the tendency to switch up.

Although I almost want to switch up. I can't stand the crushing weight that goes with being in such a bad down cycle, and it doesn't help to be told that it'll end, or that a bit of sunshine or 'doing something nice for myself' will do me good.

I have to wonder, though. What if it's not the meds that are wrong? What if it's me?
crazyjane: (Default)
2014-06-27 05:54 pm

conversations with a teenager

Watching the nightly news, as an article about the Commonwealth Games comes on ...


Lilygirl: What's the Commonwealth Games?

Me: Like the Olympics, a bunch of countries compete - the ones that are part of the British Commonwealth. Like Canada, England, etc.

Lilygirl: And that's all? That's not very nice, to be all exclusive like that for no reason.

Me: No, there is a reason ...

Lilygirl: Oh yeah, just because you're not in their little gang, they won't let you join? (severely) That's just not on, Mother.

Me: ...
crazyjane: (moondark)
2014-03-19 03:06 pm
Entry tags:

Don't Give Up?

When I started blogging about Australian politics, I did so with the aim of helping make it more accessible to those of us outside the rarefied atmosphere of Canberra. My secondary objective was to try to convey the idea that we, as citizens and voters, are not powerless; that we can have an active place in the social and political issues of the day that extend beyond ticking a few boxes on a ballot paper.

I can't claim that I succeeded, by a long shot. It would be good to think that I had some influence that led to others speaking up, acting on the courage of their convictions, but honestly, it's not something I will ever know. That's not really the point, though. I didn't do it to score brownie points (or karma points, or what have you).

For a while, though, I thought there was something happening. People would contact me saying that they had always 'switched off' before when it came to politics, but were now following the issues, discussing and acting. Others commented that they were making an effort to understand what was going on. I'd call that a victory.

But.

It's simplistic to lay it all at the feet of a change of government. The fact is that the majority of Australians voted for the Liberal/National Coalition to take over, and the only way I can explain that is to think that either they wanted to punish the ALP for something, or that they swallowed what was - to me, at least - a transparent scare campaign full of lies. Otherwise, I simply can't fathom why allegedly reasonable people would vote themselves into a situation where low income earners are targeted to come under even more financial stress, where our greenhouse gas emissions skyrocket and contribute to even faster climate change, where we are complicit in the horrendous treatment of people who seek asylum from us. The list goes on - but what matters is that the vote did swing that way, and this is the government we have.

I could write about that. I could marshal my words, cite my sources, invite interviews and examine and analyse and criticise. I'd lose whatever objectivity I strove for, but sometimes objectivity is not all it's cracked up to be. To paraphrase Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, there aren't always two sides to every story - and I don't think I could even pretend there is in any case.

What's so different this time around?

Part of the answer lies in my mental health problems, and I've written about those before. There's just too much that I need to deal with. It's not the whole story, though. The rest lies in the government itself. When I sit back and look at how this government conducts its business, all I can see is a political coalition revelling in its staggering majority and running roughshod over principles, rules and even the most basically decent behaviour. Like any ungracious and insecure winner, they gloat and change the rules to ensure no one can ever knock them off their pedestals - or even get near.

It was a tradition of Parliament that an Opposition could move to suspend the normal business of the House to bring on a debate and vote of importance, such as a censure. Certainly, when the ALP was in power, the Coalition availed themselves of that power on a daily basis - sometimes even several times a day. As soon as they were elected, however, they used their majority to remove that ability altogether. There is now no way the House of Representatives can bring a censure motion, or any other motion that the government doesn't want. They can silence any voice in that chamber. Any voice.

The President of the Senate, John Hogg, is a tiger more toothless than the United Nations. He drones, 'Order! Order!', and - very occasionally - directs a government Senator to actually put some relevance into their answer. As he notes himself, however, he can't actually force that Senator to comply - and the government is not slow to take advantage of that. Government Senators will happily ignore any directive from the President, to the point where they'll shout him down as he's trying to make a ruling.

As for Bronwyn Bishop, the Speaker of the House - it's an understatement to say she is a partisan hack who clearly enjoys her position of power. She bestows fond smiles on the Prime Minister and his front bench, saving her most delighted expressions for those times when the government either completely ignores the rules of the House, or when she can stymie any voice that might dare to lift itself in opposition. She loves point scoring, and will happily receive the fawning praise of Education Minister Chris Pyne. When he shouts abuse at Tanya Plibersek, Bishop nods and smiles. When Plibersek mutters under her breath, Bishop scolds her and throws her out, and Pyne shouts threats after her - threats that Bishop backs up approvingly, saying, 'Indeed'.

This is the Speaker who, in an interview, smugly declared that she'd 'brought decorum back into the House'.

There's no decorum. There's no democracy, no 'for the people, by the people'. Sure, the government has a majority - but they're using that majority to silence any dissenting voice. Don't like 'em? Gag 'em. Don't want to deal with them any further? Throw them out, on the slightest provocation. They've taken Question Time to new levels of absurdity, substituting reading from press releases and abuse for substantive answers. (And yes, I know all governments attempt to be obscure, but this government is worse even than Paul Keating's.)

This should be familiar to anyone who ever inhabited a school playground, or watched their own kids at school. It's bullying. The confidence of Chris Pyne is the confidence of a weak kid who knows he's got tough mates. He's the kid who pulls the girls' ponytails, and then runs to the bigger kid - Abbott - who's urging him on. And when his favourite teacher (Bishop) happens to be on Yard Duty, he can get away with murder.

It goes on. Day after day after day. If it's not the systematic dismantling of virtually every social reform of the last six years, it's doing everything possible to ensure that only one message goes out, only one voice is heard. Criticism of the military is virtually banned, while Parliamentary privilege is abused and blatant lies are told about everything from upcoming government policy to the personal characters of Labor, Greens and Independent MPs and Senators. In the midst of all this, the government declares itself the champion of free speech and truth. Just today the Attorney-General George Brandis stood with figurative hand on heart to righteously condemn those who would not allow notorious hard-right columnist, serial defamer and noted racist Andrew Bolt to say whatever he wanted to say about whoever he liked. For Brandis, the mere thought that Bolt might have to temper his words and refrain from defaming an indigenous person was truly horrifying. Of course, that doesn't apply to anyone who doesn't agree with the government. Such people are simply not allowed to even insinuate that a government Minister might be abusing his position.

While all the posturing and bullying goes on, there's so much pointless, ridiculous noise. Rather than expending energy building our society up, the government divides, silences and punishes. Yes, punishes. What else can you call it when someone whose only 'crime' is to be in a low-paying job has the payment that helps them buy their kids school textbooks is removed in favour of paying hundreds of millions of dollars to corporations in profit? When a woman in a low income job has her superannuation contribution axed, while a woman earning $150,000 a year is given a massive parental leave payment and government paid super?

And then the government appears puzzled by the idea that people might take to the streets to protest. 'What's their message?' 'What are they after, anyway?' 'Oh, it's a disaffected minority, the loony Left'. No - 50,000 people in one city, over 100,000 around the country, all marching together, all gathering under banners protesting this government's behaviour - that isn't a 'disaffected minority'. It's a cry for help from people who cannot otherwise be heard. They literally have to stop traffic to get the attention of those in power, and even then they're laughed at and dismissed.

This is not democracy.

This is not the country I've loved.

This is not the country I want my children to inherit.

I want my children to inherit a country in which dissent is not only permitted, it is expected. I want them to live in a society that understands what social justice means, that believes the first duty of a government is to its people, not to its bank balance.

I do not know if I have the strength, anymore, to fight. I do not know where, or even if that strength can still be found.

I only know that my children deserve far better than this - and so, don't I owe it to them to try?