A week of travelling

I’ve been on the road all this week, which has made it harder to update this blog (and also harder to achieve my goal of reducing my greenhouse emissions in the election year). On Sunday night I flew into Hervey Bay, meeting with some people working with multicultural issues and helping newly arrived migrants and also catching up with a seriously injured service person and his family who I had tried to support a couple of years ago. From there I drove across to Maryborough, meeting with people about housing and welfare issues.

Then I drove up to Bundaberg, where I met some more people working on housing needs. I also announced our House of Representatives candidate for the seat of Hinkler. The new boundaries for this seat are rather strange I must say. Instead of Bundaberg being the heart of Hinkler, the city is now on the northern edge of it, meaning many surrounding communities that link to Bundaberg are in a different electorate. Instead the seat now goes further south, taking in Hervey Bay, and dividing it from Maryborough, which is basically a sister city to Hervey Bay (indeed, the two cities will probably soon be forcibly amalgamated by the state government).

I then flew back home to Brisbane and drove out to Ipswich for a public forum on Workchoices on Tuesday night. There are a lot of these forums happening around the place at the moment. This was the second one I’d been to, not overly well attended compared with the previous one, and not attended at all by the local Liberal MP. I gather the Libs are boycotting all of these forums, which I think is a bit poor, regardless of the fact they are orgniased by trade unions. I also got a good reminder of why the Ipswich Motorway is such a major issue for the people out that way, as it took me about hour and a quarter to make the journey from the centre of Brisbane to the centre of Ipswich.

The following day I was up in Cairns, lending support at a meeting of Queensland Indigenous people looking at where things might go next on the stolen wages issue. I travelled from there down to Melbourne – stopping off in my office in Brisbane for a few hours along the way – where I will be until Saturday. I’m having meetings on a range of things while I’m there, including attending a dinner tonight to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Democrats. It will have a number of former Democrat Senators attending, and it should be interesting to catch up with some of them. It will be an interesting follow-on to last night, when I had dinner with former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.

I’d been trying to meet up with Malcolm Fraser for some time to hear his views on Indigenous issues, as he has been active in that area and has some good networks with a range of Indigenous people. There was a bit of irony in meeting him the night before a Democrat dinner, as some might argue Fraser was a key person the Democrats were formed to fight against. Certainly antipathy at the time between him and Don Chipp was a part of why Chipp quit the Liberals and helped form a new party. However, that was a long-time ago, and as I noted at the time, Fraser had the class and dignity to attend Don Chipp’s funeral last year as a show of respect for what Chipp achieved. The Democrats have evolved a bit since that time, and of course the ‘Liberal’ Party is almost unrecognisable from that which was led by Fraser in the 1970s and early 80s. It was fascinating to listen to someone who is of the few people left with direct experience in the Menzies government, and it was also good to hear his optimism about the potential for significant improvement in the situations facing Indigenous Australians, despite all of the failures to date.

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  1. andrew.
    you are to be commended.
    i think that it is a good thing to seek out thouse who have gone before you .they know there mistakes well.
    are you intending to try to talk to whitlam as well .
    i hear he had a bit to do with land rites and other indig issues.
    i think that both thease men have gone past the point of blame and politics.
    they must have some real solutions between them.
    i also like the idea of you driving yourself around there is nothing like first hand experience of peopls problems i.e. roads etc.

    reducing greenhouse emissions may be a huge plus if it gets polys back on the ground.
    where they can see peoples problems and achevements.
    one small step :-)

  2. While only tenuously related to this long list of activities, today (27 Jul ’07) the Club Troppo blog has a link to your 23rd of June ’05 speech on the Migration Amendment Senate enquiry, which is relevant still.

    It reminds us that you and the rest of the Democrats have been ‘on song’ for a very long time. Thank you.


  3. I envy your opportunity to discuss current events with Malcolm Fraser. I detested him in the ’70s, and am glad that he has both been recognised more recently for the many positive achievements he wasn’t recognised for at the time, by those of us like me who “maintained our rage” too long. I think his actions in 1975 were wrong, but more importantly I regret that at the time we were not able to make use of some sort of reconciliation process to recognise and make good the deficiencies of our constitution. It could all happen again.

    I was, at first, sceptical when MF re-emerged as a thoughtful and compassionate voice in recent years, but I am now convinced that he is sincere. It has actually made me look at my assumptions and prejudices — quite a large step for this formerly rusted-on Labor voter! I owe my ability to forgive many who did me wrong in the past to MF, indirectly.

  4. I add my sour note.I was considered a dole bludger by Messrs Chipp and Fraser. And Malcolm learnt a few things off me along the way. Actually I took to Malcolm along time ago,because we had lived in the same basic area.That decision about whales set him apart,and must of took some guts,even though it wasnt entirely a conservation initiative.And well,the matters of superannuation and the dominance of ex-politicians.. sometimes is perverse.The reason The Democrats interest me was the not voting acceptance that was in the Party matters.So it was my only real revenge against older men with unresearched prejudices mouthing off with a compliant over-paid crawling media….. ready to do the spade work,digging holes and filling them with the dole bludger routine. Owning land and houses as most elected officials have today is still a contempt of those who work.. set monies by others and deemed by skill classifications as unworthy of asking the question ..that is always relevant. Should society be run by opinion,by those already too powerful to accept their reasoning isnt always that valid!? To be considered a bludger for not wanting the influence of those who sent young men to war as ready role models to comply to.. is still the engaged philosophy of the Liberals today!? That is,Howard and the endless chat of their values excludes those who didnt ask them to adjudge anyone who doesnt need their sense of self-importance as the only world view,starting from when you wake up in the mornings. Yes! Malcolm is a human after all, but I remember fully the price I have paid,the same with Chipp.And have a potato chip with Malcolm!

  5. Andrew Bartlett:
    When Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister, his regime’s policies and practices cost us our house, our savings, my career and led us into financial and social ruin from which we have never recovered ….HOWEVER since leaving Parliament, he certainly has undergone a miraculous change – like St.Paul on the road to Damascus perhaps? – and now he is doing really good work.

    He would make an excellent Governor-General or a President of the Australian Commomwealth. [Absolutely no irony whatsoever intended; I do mean it].

    If you are interested, he is on a political and social issues website, Australians All [ http://www.australiansall.com.au ]. Much more formal than yours but definitely well worth a visit.

  6. We lived in Canberra in the 1970s – my husband lost his job thrugh the economic downturn that followed 1975- we were lucky enough to be able to eventually move to Sydney to live with and work for a relative. That time was really hard, and I hated Fraser for years. At the time I saw him as a similar figure to the George Bush figure – a pawn in the hands of master manipulators. Fraser is undoubtedly more intelligent, though. He seems a much better person – I’d say he took a while to see the rest of us — his childhood may have held him back.

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