Sunday, July 12, 2015

Standing as the Labor Candidate for Kooyong

Well ain't life funny.  I am now the official candidate for Australian Labor in Kooyong.A map of the electorate is here:  

Kooyong has been held by the Liberal Party or its predecessors since it was established in 1900.  It is thought that the name Kooyong comes from an Aboriginal word (I would hope from either Boonwurrung or Woi Worrung the language spoken by those people of the Kulin Nations who lived in and around the area that now makes up Metropolitan Melbourne) meaning camp or resting place, or haunt of the wild fowl.  

The path to my candidacy is mapped against another group.  I recently took a step back into the waters of activism by joining Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children, a loosely organised group of older women who are desperately concerned about the plight of children in detention and decided to make a noise about it to try to convince the Government to take a humanitarian approach to the plight of asylum seeker children and their families.

Joining the Planning Group and helping to organise the first 'action' at the front of St Paul's Cathedral last year reminded me of the power of a collective group of people.  I have been a member of the ALP off and on since 1977 and had various levels of participation and activity.  The Grandmothers reminded me of the importance of being active, the importance of taking a stand.  They reminded me of the importance of 'turning up' to quote Tony Windsor.   So I started going to branch meetings again, and when the thinking started about nominating a candidate for the next federal election, I decided, with some persuasion, to put my hand up.

That was the start of an interesting journey.  At first it looked like there would be 4 nominations, however eventually it came down to two of us.  For the first time since 1982 we had a contested pre selection in Kooyong.  

We campaigned, I emailed members, both of us spoke to a joint branch meeting and were subjected to a couple of hours of questions from local members.  Then there was the local plebiscite and it was a draw!  So then it was off to Public Office Selection Committee, first both of us presenting to the right, then to the left then to the committee as a whole.  The vote was fairly heavily in my favour so at least that decision was clear cut.

So now I am campaigning.  Now dear readers this does include of course spelling out what I stand for, clarifying my position on a number of issues, planning a strategy for getting to know the people in the electorate (some 65,000 households) and understand what are the issues that are important to them and working out our campaign tactics.  It also involves photos.  I am much more comfortable being the one taking the photos, however I am convinced now that reasonable photos that give the electorate a sense of who I am are important.  So I asked my lovely niece Susan D'Arcy to do me a favour and take a few photos to give me something to start with.  This is one of her shots.

But then I had to have the official photoshoot.  Yesterday we did the on location photos and, the day before my studio photos for posters etc....  The photographer, Anthony Leong, is a delight, full of stories about the photos he has taken over the years, thoughtful, professional and in the most delightful way suggesting which of our ideas would be useful and which would not.  I dragged the family (Beci, Raph and the kids) out to be the family that I was talking to in front of the Medicare office, I met with a group of enthusiastic young people at Swinburne University, I met with a group of Grandmothers and had the opportunity to yet again have a hot chocolate at Xocolatl, the best chocolate makers in Kew.  I stood in the rain at Camberwell Station with the previous candidate for Kooyong, John Kennedy.  I had to have the discussion - make up or  no make up - I went for a touch of make up.  I had to deal with Anthony saying that this was all about me, something which doesn't sit comfortably.

But we got it done and now I anxiously await the results.  I am not the most photogenic person, I don't particularly like looking at photos of myself.   So I leave it up to my campaign manager and committee to choose.  

The committee is made up,  interestingly, of mostly men reflecting those who have put their hands up. I am on a round of attending branch meetings, talking with people and arranging dates...  I have a website in the making, I have a Facebook:  Marg D'Arcy Labor For Kooyong and a twitter address @Darcy4kooyong - check them out.

So far I am loving it, have renewed energy for life and relish the challenge of taking on Josh 
 Frydenberg in the seat of Kooyong and playing my part in putting Labor into Government.

Here's a litt bit about why I am standing: 

I see Labor Governments preserving and protecting the things I hold dear - investing in public transport, building a strong education system, protecting universal access to quality health care, introducing NDIS to give people with disability and their families choice and control about how they live their lives, acting to stop climate change and taking real action so that women and children can live free from the fear of violence.

i despair at the Abbott Government that Josh Frydenberg is part of.  A Government that has no vision other than to wreck all the gains that Labor made.  A Government that wants to destroy our working conditions, our universal access to quality health and education, that is blind to the impact of climate change, and a Government that works to destroy the jobs that have been created in the renewable energy industry. A Government that is intent on destroying the ABC and taking away it’s editorial independence.  A Government that fosters fear and division and is taking us backwards so that we lag behind the rest of the world in action on climate change and achieving Marriage Equality.  I want to work to get rid of that Government and make Australia a country we can again be proud of

So if you want to follow the journey, stay tuned.

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