Finally, I’m interested!

What I can say is, after all my whining, all my shunning and head-in-hands dismay, something’s caught my eye, snared my attention, caused me to contemplate – even with some degree of intrigue – the Federal Election. It’s not just the winning and losing – although that holds its own nail-biting attributions – it’s what’s going on: the personalities, the asides, the thought of what’s at stake! But regardless of the particulars – the this and the that – something has clicked into gear for me. Finally, I’m onboard. Finally, I’m taking note.

This awakening took place around the time I took a trip into a state forest where, with no electricity (which meant no light to read by), my only form of stimulation was my transistor radio. What choice did I have? I immersed myself in Radio National and got to hear Kevin talk to Phillip and Barry Jones and Rodney Cavalier reminisce about Ben Chifley and Gough. A day or two later there was the win in the High Court for GetUp!, which meant seven days reprieve for an estimated 100,000 to get on the electoral roll, and the announcement of the question and answer session for swinging voters, which gave us all an opportunity to say Rooty Hill.

Of course, I shouldn’t overlook the issues: the broadband debate, the Murray-Darling River squabble, the parental leave schemes and the non-existent price on carbon. On the other hand, there were the issues that never appeared: poverty, equal opportunity, Indigenous inequities and the lack of housing across the country. There was, of course, the old reliable – the issue of Boat People, which took prime position. And the one that hasn’t seen its last days: homophobia, showing itself in appalling style when Family First candidate, Wendy Francis, tweeted (accidentally-on-purpose) her horrendous comments about same-sex parenting being akin to child abuse.

There were the things I’ll never forget: Penny Wong saying the coalition’s policy on water buy-back is like giving someone a Berocca to fix a broken leg. Barnaby Joyce turning down a suggestion – quite jovially, mind you – from The World Today to use an old National Party promo, full of blatant bigotry, to advertise the National Party, and Mark Latham’s attempt to be a hard-nosed journo, which just turned out to be hard-nosed. There was Julia on the bus, holding a gallon-sized takeaway cup of … tea? And Tony Abbott in the lead-up to the campaign, saying ‘in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would…’

So what did I expect: The visionary orators of the past? The diminishment of narrow-mindedness? The absence of all things discriminatory? Was I simply wishing my nation to be more savvy, more unafraid, more honest than I already know it to be? Did I expect this election to reinstate my faith in humanity, or was I simply thinking it would all turn out for the best, even if I wasn’t looking?

Well, I guess that’s behind me because now I’m ensconced, looking on with a kind of unexpected fascination. I’m there! Ready, steady, and fully attentive!

SJ Finn

SJ Finn is an Australian writer whose fiction and poetry has been widely published in literary magazines and Australian newspapers. Her latest novel is Down to the River. She can be found at

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