Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston

Co-publisher and editor-in-chief at No Fibs
Margo Kingston is a retired Australian journalist and climate change activist. She is best known for her stint as Phillip Adams’ ‘Canberra Babylon’ contributor and her work at The Sydney Morning Herald and #Webdiary. Since 2012, Kingston has been a citizen journalist, reporting and commenting on Australian politics via Twitter and No Fibs.
Margo Kingston

THANK YOU MAZ and what a surreal experience this has been so far, looking out a sea of t-shirts with my name on them! After doing this for one week, I’ve realised there are lots of things I’m going to have to get used to. And one of them is that the technology doesn’t always work. So I’ll try to speak up and please wave at me from the back if you can’t hear me.

I want to talk today about why I’m doing this, what I stand for, and what you can expect as a volunteer in the campaign.

Firstly, why am I doing this?

When I was approached by Curtin Independent on the 5th of January, I could think of lots of reasons not to do this, but only one reason to do it, and that’s because it matters. It’s important.

Like so many people from across Curtin and indeed around Australia, I feel disillusioned with what I see in federal politics. I feel like my vote in Curtin is taken for granted. The major parties have moved away from the centre and the policies of Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce do not represent the views and values of Curtin.

We are not seeing the action we need to on the issues that matter.

Climate change is one of the big issues that matter and this decade is really really important. We need to see some action this decade and not cross our fingers and hope that technology will solve it before 2050. We have to be acting on this now.

As for integrity, at the pointy end, we are seeing taxpayers’ money being used for political purposes. We need to hold our politicians to account and have higher expectations. I want to turn on the telly and see leaders who make me feel proud. And I’m not getting much of that at the moment.

In the week since I launched, the Prime Minister has been called a liar, a psycho, a hypocrite and a horrible person. And that’s from people in his own team. We can do better than that. We need to be having discussions about the issues that are not personal, not identity-based, so that we can actually take good ideas no matter where they come from and develop policies that will set us up the future. We can’t do that without greater integrity.

As for economic opportunity, I really believe that the global economy will decarbonize because we have to. The question is whether it be soon enough to avoid irrevocable environmental damage. And the second question is whether Australia will actually get on board and make the most of the wave of economic opportunities that can come out of this. So we really need to be looking forward and thinking about our sustainable jobs in 20 years time, and what that will take and what decisions we need to make now to set us up for future success, rather than taking our success for granted.

And lastly, I want to talk about our community. I think that there is a lot more compassion in our communities than our current leadership is giving us credit for. Curtin had one of the highest votes in the Marriage Equality plebiscite. We are compassionate and socially progressive. And we are not seeing that reflected in our representation.

We have a great opportunity with the Uluru Statement, to rewrite the future of how we acknowledge and embrace our First Nations people’s past. This government has just not been taking that opportunity.

On asylum seekers, we need to be able to approach the issue with more compassion. These are people who have suffered so much trauma already and risked so much for a chance at the opportunities that we take for granted. We’ve got to be able to see that as an opportunity, not a threat.

And we need to embrace diversity in all its forms and see it as part of our strength.

But the two party system is not delivering on any of these issues. With our current system, we’re seeing the major parties move away and leave a big gap in the middle. And it’s no wonder that there are candidates all over Australia, rising up to represent the sensible centre and fill that vacuum that’s been left. And I think that’s really, really exciting. There is a significant chance that at this election, these sensible centre candidates from all over the country could hold the balance of power.

And then we might really see some different decisions and some different leadership on these big issues that matter because of these Independent candidates. And I’m one of them. I haven’t always wanted to be a politician. I’ve got plenty of other things in my life. I’m interested in change. And I think that there are lots of women across the country, who just want to see things get done.

If I win, I will not be beholden to vested interests or party politics. My number one priority will be listening to the voters of Curtin and representing them, beholden only to my electorate and my own conscience.

But we’ve got a big challenge ahead. The Liberal Party won this electorate with a 54% primary vote in the last election. We’ve got 14 weeks. We’ve got 108,000 people to reach. So we’ve got a bit of a mountain to climb. But I feel really hopeful because I’ve heard so much in the last week about people with a real appetite for change and optimism is really catchy.

So, being a volunteer in this campaign, what’s that going to involve?

I think it will be really rewarding and fun, because it’s actually really fun to connect with people about things that you care about. It’s about excitement and hope.

This is really a community grassroots campaign. A personal endorsement of someone who passionately believes that this is possible, is worth a whole lot more than billboards. And what I’m asking you to do as we go on this journey together, is to connect with your communities and have those conversations. Find those opportunities to change the conversation. And to open this up. Whether that’s hosting an event, letterbox drops, talking to your neighbours, or being there in the lead-up to, and on, election day, when we’re going to need to have a really strong presence in polling booths across the electorate.

It really is going to depend on the energy of this group as it grows, to see whether we can get this done. And I thank you very very much for being here. And showing your intention to be there over the next four months. As a grassroots campaign, we welcome your ideas on ways to connect with our communities. My team is a bunch of people like me, who want to see change and who want to do things differently. And we’re really open to your ideas about how to do that.

We need you to speak to your networks and help us raise money. Every dollar will make a difference to getting the word out and sending the message that there is a real alternative.

Today, all I ask is that you talk to each other, find out what it is that brings us together, and why we think this is worth getting out of bed for, on a Sunday morning. You’ve got your campaign T shirts, please wear them. You feel a bit dorky the first time you wear it, but I think it’ll be a conversation point, and open up conversations about why change is needed and why it’s possible.

Take photos and post them on social media, if that’s something you do, using the hashtag #ChaneyforCurtin. Spread the word. Spread the word to anyone you think would be interested. You’ve probably now all had a chance to sign up for emails, look out for regularly opportunities to get involved.

Thank you very much for being here. We are starting a really exciting journey together and you will be able to say that you were here when it started. Thank you.


THREAD: “We are starting a really exciting journey together”, Kate Chaney tells #CurtinVotes