Graeme Turner

Graeme Turner

Graeme is a retired veterinarian, husband and grandfather who has lived in the electorate of Groom three times over the last 55 years, the last 25 years in Toowoomba. He’s voted Labor and Greens for most of his life, and thoroughly disliked the attitude of the Liberal and National Parties since the time of John Howard. He’s not a political animal, but fueled by loathing for a corrupt, dysfunctional, disdainful government, he joined Voices of Groom then campaigned for Suzie Holt. He’s moved by the plight of increasingly larger portions of our society, anthropogenic global warming and disturbance of the natural systems that keep Earth habitable, the pernicious influence of concentration of media ownership on our social fabric and Australia’s slide toward plutocracy. He’d had enough of feeling powerless and watching idly: The future grandchildren beckoned.
Graeme Turner

LET ME SAY from the outset that a brilliant array of talented people was involved in this audacious campaign. For me personally, it was a big growth experience. Like several other volunteers, I was out of my depth: I wanted to deliver flyers and host events but got the title Volunteer Coordinator. 

Sink or swim? 

I consulted other independent campaigns and was told the role of volunteer co-ordinator was impossible for a single person. This seemed a fair assessment to me even with 50 volunteers, given the number of directions said volunteers were to be deployed.

Eventually, the people who we needed started appearing

Sandy Hilder, an experienced volunteer coordinator, joined Team Suzie, but was unfortunately away for three weeks at an important part of the campaign. I don’t know how she did it, but she achieved a miracle and staffed the vast majority of our booths on election day.

Robin Grundon, with experience of four elections under his belt as either AEC staffer or LNP booth worker and scrutineer, stepped up to run our Early Voting booths. The energy of this man has to be seen to be believed. I recruited the booth captains: Robin, Greg Spearritt, Doug Harland and Mary Connole-Bevan, but Robin made it happen!

Also, the advice of former Groom LNP Chairman John White on matters flyering, corflute and boothing was invaluable, as was the support from his other (better?) half, Nicole.

Campaign meeting at the Mouse Proof Pub, Toowoomba – Groom

Thanks to all those who turned up and stepped up

Thanks are due to the people who gave their time throughout the campaign to distribute flyers, turn up to functions and waved corflutes on Saturday mornings.

I would like to thank the people who stepped up for door knocking: John Bushell, Greg Spearritt, Terri Cox, Miles Brodie, Robin Grundon, Robert James, Andy Nicholson, Doug Harland, Phil Armit, Mike Spence, Vicki Battaglia, Jen Patrick, and Suzie. A similar group of people also helped with erecting and maintaining our corflutes – additions were Paul McGowan (yes, Cathy McGowan’s brother), Pauline Kenny, Rob Toohey and Pel (Penelope Lilford), with thanks to Clive Puzey and Diana Johnston. Thanks are due to all our supporters for hosting signs prior to the election being called.

Pel was of huge assistance in the transition from campaign to early voting. I regret not having the nouse to consult with her on the admin side of things. 

A quiet achiever: Jill French – the Highfields connection! Jill facilitated flyer distribution, corflute erection and maintenance, and connection to the Highfields community. Thanks to her team, including Steve Donald and Steve Hughes, plus her family, friends and other contacts.

I want to acknowledge the support from our media person, Nadia Emblen. A rock.

Thanks to Suzie’s husband Miles for his encouragement, inspiration and appreciation aplenty throughout.

To the rest: Mary Connole-Bevan, Meredith, Suzie, Margie, Peter McIlveen, and many others – thank you for your experience, input and encouragement. I have met some amazing people on the journey.

Suzie Holt with #GroomVotes volunteers

A sense of purpose

One of the most delightful aspects of the campaign was the booth work. We were exhorted to be our best selves, and it paid dividends in the interactions with volunteers from other campaigns.

On reflection, the most affirming thing, though, was the sense of purpose that drove an extraordinary period of co-operation and enthusiasm. There were challenges, missteps, and doubtless niggles, but they were just not as important as the campaign, and no-one allowed them divert focus from the primary goal.

Difficult terrain

The reality is we live in a very right-wing electorate (about 54 percent voted LNP or PHON before including the UAP). I don’t know if there were enough electors sitting naturally in the centre – true conservatives and progressives. Add this to the division of the vote with another independent, and the task to affect a revolution in the primary vote appears daunting.

Changing hearts and minds requires a concerted, long-term commitment to interaction with the electorate, and some demonstration of how change will improve things. The election results after preference distribution offer encouragement, and is a true reflection of the work we put in. We gave it a good go!

Graeme Turner on the #GroomVotes hustings

Would I do it again?

Hell yes! With a few lessons taken on board, my confidence increased, and skin a little thicker, I consider myself forewarned.

Will I be there with SuzieHolt4Groom 2025? Possibly not, although we have yet to have a review. The imperfect storm of an underperforming member of the same ilk as an unpopular, dysfunctional government has passed. Said member is suddenly everywhere doing good representative things, or at least being available for photo ops. That was part of the stated aim, to push the local member into being a better representative.

Job done? Time will tell. The avenues for prying Groom away from the LNP may have diminished, but the local member is still his own worst enemy.

Importantly, the country has rid itself of a vacuous PM and nasty dysfunctional government.  Given the local member’s quite right wing views, and with the help of the media, the LNP in opposition under Dutton is likely to play well in Groom without significant pushback of either the hard or soft varieties. 


Feature image: Voices for Groom meeting, 31 Jan 2021 (Photo: Mike Spence)


No Fibs coverage of #GroomVotes