You are in politics whether you like it or not. Not just because we have compulsory voting and you have a civic obligation to cast your vote. We are all in politics because the choices that we make and the things we care about are, in and of themselves political. If you choose to never think about politics or make voting the only thing you do, then that is a political choice.
Because by choosing not to participate, by choosing to vacate the field, then you leave it to other people.
By choosing to let other people make all the decisions, and to let other people have all the influence, that is in and of itself political, because you are deciding that you are not going to have input into the political system. If normal people, like me and my husband decide not to engage in politics then it creates a vacuum and that will be filled, often by zealots, on both sides, one way or another.
If we end up in a situation where the political sphere is dominated by zealous voices, then that has an impact on the decisions that get made.
If we end up in a situation where the political sphere is dominated by zealous voices, then that has an impact on the decisions that get made. Now, I recognise that people who have just worked a 12 hour day and have kids to be bathed or study to be done, don’t necessarily think to reach out to their local member. But these are the people I try to reach proactively because their opinions, whether they be on pay equality, university fees or climate change, inform me and having opinions is an act of political engagement. The taxi drivers who are worried about, not just their income, but about the asset value of their taxi license, and who come to see me en masse are politically engaged.The local economist who urges me to take a study tour of Bulgaria to learn about their health system is politically engaged.And my many constituents who talk to me about early childhood education are highly politically engaged because they talk to me about what they care about.
I never want to tell people to get involved in politics, because people hear that term and they think of parliament, but if you ask people what they care about, then they become engaged and I learn about the things that are important to them and to the community that I serve.
Its the representative function that I really love and that is what you discharge in your home electorate.
While I love Canberra, the diversity of representation, the bills that are debated and even the tax committees, that’s the job of being a parliamentarian and that happens in Canberra. However, it’s the representative function that I really love and that is what you discharge in your home electorate. The mechanism by which you represent is the parliament, which people think of when they think of politics, but the source of the representation is the people that I talk to on a Saturday morning at my mobile office. My commitment, a commitment I made to myself and my community is that I would only ever run for a seat in a community that I lived in and was part of. When the opportunity arose, being a person who was willing to put their hand up was my demonstration that it can be done; to reflect the people in my community because at the end of the day, everyone is political.