I love the smell of an election in the morning… not!
I don’t get politics. I just don’t. Okay? I don’t understand the mechanics or the machinations, I don’t know my senate from my double dissolution, from my hung parliament. I don’t understand the greed. I don’t understand the dishonesty. It’s as simple as that.
My partner was born in Canberra. He lives and breathes the stuff. It’s like second English to him. His disbelief in my uninterest borders on embarrassment. I think he sees me as a recalcitrant teen who wants to eat off clean crockery, but won’t do dishes. Or cook the dinner. Or pay for the food. I frustrate him to the enth.
To me, election day wouldn’t suck any less if there were free pizza and bourbon…
I did a drive-by of the polling booths at St Paul’s Memorial Hall on Keen Street in Lismore at around 3 o’clock on a sunny Saturday afternoon, July 2 this year.
I was looking for someone.
I saw Kudra Falla-Ricketts out the front with a few of her young friends standing in the sunshine waiting for election day 2016 to end.
A special photo
I yelled out my window and asked her if she would still be around at 5.30 when I came back to commit my opinion to paper. (Yes, I was leaving it until the last possible second.) Apart from voting, I also wanted to get a photo, a very special photo, a very special selfie in fact.
I finished my stuff and I went home and had a shower, put on some lipstick and made the trip back into town.
I got photos and interviews with Janelle Saffin and Kudra for Echonetdaily but before I headed inside to check my name off the phonebook-sized list of enrollees, there was an important picture I wanted to take.
I stood next to Kudra and we both smiled up at my big lens while I snapped away until I had what I wanted.
Kudra had to come to me weeks earlier wanting some photos for her campaign. Over the next months I saw that same smiling face in the images I captured staring back at me from newspapers and corflutes across the Page electorate.
At that first photo shoot she was fresh and brave and resolute and ready for battle, maybe a tad unsure of herself in front of the camera, but she did really well for a first-timer.
We had a great shoot, the photos turned out well and she went her way and I went mine. But politics? Puh-lease.
I have a dirty little secret.
I have no faith in the political system – I never have and I still don’t.
But that’s not the secret.
I also have never, and still haven’t, enrolled to vote – of my own accord. That’s the secret.
For years, especially in my work as an artivist where a lot of time I am fighting government authority, I have nodded and smiled and ‘uhuh’d’ when the subject of candidates and elections came up. Occasionally I have actually participated in the debate and frowned and added such gems as, ‘all politicians are greedy wankers’ and ‘there is no such thing as altruism’ and my personal favourite: ‘I’m a communist’. *The sound of crickets*
When Kudra decided to run I thought ‘what a joke’. Not so much because she was so young but because it’s a bloody business and, actually it was because she was so young.
I am not usually a believer in undervaluing youth; in fact I am the opposite – I really try hard to support young people where I can and give them a chance. My own daughters have done and created and achieved amazing things in this world – I know what kids can do. I always try to give young folk a go.
But when Kudra decided to run, I just thought it was an impossible win.
Then, she ran an absolutely awesome race. Every time I bumped into her in the street, at every event that I went where she spoke, I was very pleasantly surprised. She had courage of her convictions and just plain courage.
The AEC finally caught up with me after 34 years and my plan was to just not do it – just not vote and cop the fine as my own little protest, because I don’t believe those who sit in the seats are really what the people want. I think politics is evil. Psychopathic.
I think the government found me because I registered a new vehicle in Corndale (yes, all the departments seem to be having sex with each other these days). It was not long after that, before the election was even announced, that candidate junkmail began appearing in my letterbox. I had a sneaking suspicion that they busted me but I decided to just ignore it – head-in-the-sand and all that.
When the election rolled around my own personal protest was to simply pay what the government thought I owed it for not turning up on election day, or better still, going to court over it and giving them my very loud personal opinion of why I didn’t feel I needed to vote.
But something changed over the weeks leading up to E-day, and I can tell you truly it wasn’t my faith being restored in Australia’s parliamentary system.
My faith was restored in myself. In my ability to have faith. To feel faith. To trust that maybe there was some sort of future to hope for and it was about bloody time that I started practising what I preached.
That renewed faith wasn’t in any party line. It was my faith in youth, the youth of our community, and the youth of the world. My faith that the young people will eventually see the stupidity of their elders’ ways and my faith that what I always taught my children from when they were very young was true: it’s important to respect your elders, but it’s important to remember that they are not always good and they are not always right.
I didn’t listen so much to what this young Greens candidate was saying; I listened to the way she was saying it. The way she spoke, the way she treated people, the way she related to those around her, the way she knew the world. The courage of her conviction was that there is a better future. This is not a future of my making, but a future of her making. Of their making. That was what I had regained faith in.
So I decided to put my name behind hers on the ballot paper.
Kudra, seeing your poise, your grace, your integrity (unless I missed some secret politician evil) and your absolute capability amongst a bunch of total bloody goons, changed my mind. I took up a purple pencil for the first time ever and marked the paper Green because of you.
I have every faith in you and your ability, either in ‘power’ or not, to help set this country aright. You and your generation will save us. Please forgive us our sins. I hope it’s not too late.
- Eve Jeffery is an Echo photojournalist, filmmaker and artivist. See more of her artivism at cloudcatchermedia.com.