Reflections on the election

As you can tell from my last post, my 15-year old daughter is quite involved in the Student Strike 4 Climate movement and worked hard in the lead up to the election. On the day, she spent six hours at a polling booth trying to get people to think about climate change when they voted. My elder daughter also spent a couple of hours handing out how to vote cards.

Polls had consistently predicted a narrow win for Labor but, once again, the polls were wrong, and the conservative coalition (who have failed to take serious action on climate change) are back in power for another three years.

Besides the lack of strong leadership on climate change and some of the policy implications, one of the things that worries me most about the result is the message it gives the students who had worked so hard to make it a climate election. Alexa, and I’m sure many of the other students, felt they were actually making a difference. Whenever there was a story about climate change and the election, there was usually vision of the student strikers, and there was a sense they were really helping to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on future generations.

The election results, however, suggest that adults weren’t listening and that they really don’t care: other issues were seen as more important. For the young people (and others) who understand the potential impact of climate change on their future; this is very hard to comprehend.

One of the lessons I worry politicians might take from the election is that focusing on what you will do in Government is not as effective as being negative, running down the other side and misrepresenting policies, facts and positions (or even straight out lying). We say we want politicians who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, but they often do so at the risk of their political future.

The lesson I would like politicians, and others, to take from the election is the importance of listening deeply to people who are feeling marginalised, excluded or not heard. We need to focus more on engaging and listening rather than telling people what to think.

I was also helping out at a polling booth for most of the day, and there was a lovely woman handing out how to vote cards for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. The labels thrown so often at One Nation supporters aren’t helpful. We need to go beyond the rhetoric and start listening to the concerns of people who are attracted to One Nation and other minor parties.

I think the environment movement needs to become much better at listening too. We need to listen to why so many people support mining and minimise the risk of climate change. We need to listen to people’s fears about the loss of jobs, the rising prices of energy and threats to their way of life.

It will be difficult because people will lose their jobs in the transition from coal and many aspects of our ways of life do need to change. But pushing for change without acknowledging people’s concerns and fears is likely to be counterproductive. Even though we face a climate emergency, we still need to think about how we can support and look after the people who will be effected by the changes we need to make.

I must admit I feel quite disheartened by the election results. I did hope for change, particularly in relation to climate change policy. It is scary because we are heading towards major environmental and social disruption, but our leaders and our nation seem incapable of taking the action needed to change paths. It would be easy (and, at times, tempting) to become despondent and to give into despair. Instead, I will stand by my daughters as they, and I, find the energy to continue to raise awareness and promote change, I will encourage inclusive, bottom-up approaches to community engagement; I will support initiatives that create a positive vision of change; and I will promote compassion, and an ability and willingness to genuinely listen to people with differing views.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. School Strike 4 Climate: Make it a #ClimateElection
  2. What are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved and authoritative parenting styles?
  3. Parenting for a better world
  4. 10 ways to reduce your consumption
  5. 12 principles of a problem solving approach to conflict resolution
  6. Principles of nonviolence

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Environmental sustainability, Social change. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Reflections on the election

  1. dave2718 says:

    And some people are listening; the senate result includes returning multiple Greens (in many states, including Queensland), and a rejection of some of the most toxic of the right. The response is painfully slow, but I suspect these young voices are a necessary part of the change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    HI Graeme. As always a very considered and reflective Blog post. Today I heard about this great documentary coming out this weekend, with some cinemas offering free entry for children. The documentar,y A future world in 2040: Damon Gameau, and related web resources sound like they offer lots of positive insights and ideas, and indicate that change is possible. It sounds like children and young people campaigning for better leadership, vision and action on climate change might find this uplifting, as it includes their voices, as well as ideas on positive actions that could make a real difference. Its worth listening to the interview on Life Matters to hear more. See
    Tell Alexa to keep going. She and her peers are doing a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nic Stuart says:

    Dear Graeme,

    Great comment. What makes it so different to all the bumph around here (Canberra) is that there’s a bit of considered thought and insight.

    Best, Nic

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lozzie Macey says:

    Hi Graeme,

    I really appreciated this post.
    It is helping me move from my despair over the election results to a more positive place.
    You’re right. We must now focus on continuing to raise awareness and promoting change.

    Thank you so much.


    Liked by 1 person

I'd love to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.