5 years ago today
Photo Courtesy of: 60 Minutes
ON THE CAMPAIGN trail, they say every vote is sacred. Every vote is precious.
But (as I tweeted from the Justice Bus, after casting my vote at Albert Park Primary School last Saturday) there was one even more special than any other. And I’m not talking about my own.
I learned about it in a text message which said:
‘Hi Derryn. I am back in Victoria now. Darwin is not for me. I wanted to wish you all the best in the election today and I'm proud to give you my vote. Cheers Lynda.’
It wasn’t from Lynda Stoner, a dear friend and by a quirk of fate, a Senate candidate for the Animal Justice Party in New South Wales against Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, No.1 Senate candidate Ken Stevens.
It was from Lynda Gardner, the mother of my liver transplant donor Heath Gardner who died five years ago this week.
If it hadn’t been for that family’s life-saving generosity I wouldn’t be here. After all, when they removed my cancerous liver and had a good look at it, the pathologist estimated I had had only two weeks left to live without the donated organ.
On the bouncy campaign bus as we headed off to another polling booth and another traditional sausage sizzle, I wrote back:
‘Lynda. That brought a tear to my eye. We will catch up soon. Heath's gift made this possible. xx Derryn’.
It made me reconfirm in my mind, not that I needed it, that if elected (this was mid-morning Saturday) I would be a friend at court for Transplant Australia. I could be in a position to change the parlous situation where we have one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the western world.’ With 2 weeks to live, I was given the gift of life by Heath Gardner’s family 5 years ago today. Will spend next 3-6 years in Senate honouring that gift.
With 2 weeks to live, I was given the gift of life by Heath Gardner’s family 5 years ago today. Will spend next 3-6 years in Senate honouring that gift.
a ‘living will’
I could push for a speedier introduction of the donor registry app for registered donors and legalization of a ‘living will’ so your family, in their understandable grief, cannot over-rule your wishes. As so many do now.
I could do this… I could do that...
In the hours after I realised I would be elected Senator, I felt stunned, humbled and honoured and my mind started racing with thoughts of what I might achieve.
Radio, TV and print journos have bombarded me with questions (like Julie Bishop’s ‘gotcha’ moment about the ABCC and company tax cuts and superannuation. And whom I would rather deal with: Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten. Days later we still don’t know. I will happily deal with either.
I have already announced my first political promise: Derryn Hinch will listen.
I am not playing politics when I don’t declare positions on contentious issues before I even get to Canberra. I want to see the material, read the fine print, talk to the experts.
I prefer to do that rather than form an opinion on the basis of what I’ve read in the Herald Sun or the Daily Telegraph.
I also want to concentrate on the issues which the people of Victoria thought were important enough to give me their vote.
Hundreds joined me on the Jail 2 Justice Walk, when we covered 180 kilometres in ten days from Langi Kal Kal Prison to the steps of Parliament House and presented a petition with 160,000 signatures to the Victorian Government calling for a national public register of convicted sex offenders.
We had it passed in the Northern Territory. Attorney-General John Elferink called me from his office, told me he had Bruce and Denise Morcombe there, and on speaker phone broke the news that the register was law.
I cried in my living room. The domino effect would kick in. It never happened. They shelved it.
I want a Senate inquiry into the Family Court and child welfare agencies. Too many kids are being put into foster care who shouldn’t be and too many are being taken out of foster care who shouldn’t be.
I have said many times that a country is gauged on three things: How it treats its elderly, its children and its animals. To our shame, in Australia in 2016, we fail all three.
a magnifying glass
I’ll look at any changes to super with a magnifying glass. I’ll keep pushing for a ban on live exports. On that one, I took a petition of 30,000 names from 3AW listeners to Canberra 35 years ago urging an end to the export of live horses to Japan for meat and live sheep to the Middle East.
I started this with a text message. I’ll end it with another one. Indicatively, from a disgruntled Liberal. I met just as many disillusioned and disappointed Labor voters.
‘Congratulations Derryn. Your tireless efforts well rewarded!! Your messages certainly resonated with the people. The overall picture certainly indicates that an increasing number of the electorate have become disenchanted with the rhetoric and lies of the main parties. I'm sure you, Xenophon and the other independents will 'keep the bastards' honest! I'm sure you have been inundated with calls and best wishes so no need to reply'
I’ll try. In fact, I’ve combined the campaign slogans of two political giants:
It’s time… to keep the bastards honest.
[An edited version of this editorial appeared in the Herald Sun. This will be my last Human Headline editorial for now. It doesn’t mean I will stop writing but future editorials will appear on a new Justice Party website now under construction. As they say in vaudeville: Thanks for the loan of the hall. ]