Happy New Year everyone and welcome to my first post for 2014. The kids are back at school, I am happily sitting at my computer blogging and all is good in my world.
I’m going to kick off the year by telling you about a little project I’m involved in…well actually it’s a stonking great big project, but as Sarah always says: Go big or go home!
A few months ago I was having lunch with some friends when one of them, Jason, announced that he had an idea. I want to create a political party, he said, just like that. We need our own voice.
Seriously, Jason? We didn’t quite all fall about laughing, but the scepticism bounced around the room like the kids on the trampoline. Crazy. Naive. Impossible.
Three hours later, I was in. Hooked. Ready and raring to go. And three months later, Jason is on the front page of The Age launching the Australian Equality Party.
So here’s the plan. We will officially register the Australian Equality Party with the Electoral Commission once we have 500 members. We will then build a grassroots support base over the next two and half years and nominate Jason as our Victorian candidate for the Senate at the next federal election. Jason will be elected to the Senate and become a voice for the GLBTIQ community in federal parliament.
Okay, so I know that last part is a stretch, but you’ve got to admit, it sounds good, doesn’t it? A Senator, representing our interests at the highest level and explicitly and unashamedly looking at everything from a human rights perspective.
No one is saying it’s going to be easy – and I reckon we’re all in for a very bumpy ride – but it’s certainly not impossible and I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring with Jason and give it a go. We got off to a kick-ass start, if I do say so myself, with some fantastic media, 500 likes on our Facebook page and a stack of new members already.
I’ve known Jason for ten years (we ran the legal challenge around the recognition of our overseas marriages in the Family Court together) and the interesting thing about him is that he’s never really been involved in party politics, but he has been deeply involved in – and is a powerful advocate for – our community. I trust him with this and I’m proud to stand with him. In three short months he’s created something quite remarkable and generated phenomenal support. I’m really excited about what he can do with three years.
For me, it’s also about the journey and that’s already started. Camille, another of our founding members, sent me an email after that first lunch when Jason shared his idea. She told me a story about her son, Hamish who’s eight years old. (Some of you will have met Hamish in a previous blog where he was changing public opinion and policy at his primary school.) This is the story Camille told:
After you left on Sunday, the kids asked me about our meeting. At the last election I’d explained – in very basic terms – that there are two major parties – the red and the blue – and that everyone gets to vote and whichever party wins gets to pick the prime minister. The green party and the yellow party and lots of other parties help them make the laws. I said that we were trying to make a purple party so that we could make things better for rainbow families. I didn’t hear any more until today.
I was sitting in Hamish’s classroom doing parent help when he came over and whispered in my ear: ‘Mum, I’m going to tell them about the purple party’.
Before I could say anything he went up to his teacher and proudly announced: ‘I have something to tell the class.’ I had no idea what he was going to say.
‘My mums, Fiona and Camille, are helping to start the purple party, and our friend Jason might be in the government.’
He went on to describe the different colour parties and explain that the purple party was not going to pick the prime minister, but was going to help make the laws.
‘You don’t have to be a rainbow family to join,’ he said, ‘you can have a mum and a dad. I hope you all vote for us. I’m not sure where you can join, but you can ask my mum.’
He explained that Camille would go to meetings and Fiona would stay and look after him, because Fiona didn’t want to talk about politics all the time.
He was so proud. I was too.
I think small changes – as well as big ones – are important and if we get Jason into the Senate that will be sensational, but as far I’m concerned the purple party has achieved something already; it’s helped an eight year old boy with two mums stand a little taller in front of his classmates and that’s enough for me.
I’ve never been a member of a political party before, despite being actively involved in politics all my life and I reckon there’ll be a few of you reading this who are in the same position. Maybe it’s time for you to take that step too?
I know this blog is read by a very broad range of people and that’s exactly who we are trying to attract. You don’t have to be GLBTIQ to join; we welcome and want straight friends, family and supporters. And you might have noticed from our photo that, while we’re all looking pretty youthful, we are none of us what you’d describe as…well…young. (Except for David on the end there.)
Young people, we need you, too.
So check out the website and see what you think and join us at Australian Equality Party.
I reckon they’ll be a few ALP and Greens readers too – and some Liberals – and you can’t be a member of two political parties at the same time. But, if this resonates with you and you think it can only be good for our community, you can always donate the membership fee without actually becoming a member (and we promise we won’t tell anyone).
And for everyone else, if you can like our Facebook page, give this blog a big blast though cyber space and share them both on your networks that would be fantastic. Thanks.
I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s a selection of media coverage: