It won't come as news to anyone that our PM Julia Gillard follows this blog, so I just want to give her a big shout out and say thanks for waving to Toby on the way out of Government House yesterday morning.
We'd been doing a little early morning shopping in Manuka, and on the way home turned on the radio to hear the news that the PM had toddled off to visit the Governor General and ask her to dissolve parliament.
"Well," we thought, "there's no point living in the nation's capital and not making the most of these sort of opportunities. Besides, Yarralumla's on the way home. Sort of."
So we took a quick diversion out to the edge of the lovely parklands that surround the GG's official residence, parked there along with a surprisingly large number of others, and within 30 seconds, the Prime Minister's official motorcade (2 cars, including hers) cruised past.
From the front seat of the PM's vehicle (replete with the little fluttering Australian flags that John Howard had restored to the fleet) the PM gave Toby a big wave as they passed. They didn't stop though, I expect she had other priorities, which was a pity - I was hoping Toby could be the first kissed baby of the campaign...
It was kinda fun, all things considered. And, let's face it, probably the highlight of the upcoming election campaign.
Usually I love elections. I don't know if you've spotted it from reading this blog, but I'm something of a politics tragic. I blame my undergraduate degree for this, specifically my honours year. I did my honours in Political Science* and have been somewhat hooked on the game ever since. So generally when an election is announced, I'm ecstatic at the thought of all the good stuff to come: spurious election commercials, Anthony Green**, accusations of Nazism, Pork Barrelling and, of course, election night.
Last election evening - that glorious night back in 2007 which saw the fall of the Howard government in such spectacular style - I remember well. Or at least, I remember the first half of it. We had a few people around for dinner and to watch the telecast from the National Tally Room (Did I mention that Imogen is also a political tragic? It's a dangerous combination...). I can remember the early counting - the breathless anticipation of the Eden Monaro Result, the first indications from Bennelong that perhaps Howard himself would lose his seat, the increasing sense of jubilation... all of it is as clear as a bell in my memory. I remember dashing out to the local bottle shop at about 9.00 and buying the last four bottles of champagne in the place (we're in a *very* safe Labour seat here...). I remember getting the bottles home safely. After that, things get a little blurry...
So generally speaking, elections get me fired up. Not so much this time, though. This time it all feels just a little too tinged with hopelessness. The whole exercise seems a little futile.
One the one hand, we have the Liberals, led by Tony Abbot. There's no way I'd have voted that direction even before Abbot took over. Now it's just not an option. I'd link to the gratutious image of him in his budgie smugglers*** as evidence in support of this position but let's face it - we're going to see so much of that image in the next five weeks, that there's no point.
And on the other hand, there's Labor. I blogged about their spectacular 'Lurch to the Right' a couple of weeks ago, and don't have the energy or heart to revisit it today. Needless to say that a vote for the current Labor Party doesn't really feel like a vote for Labor. More like a vote for 'Liberal Lite', or even the 'Marginal Electorate Redneck Representative Party'.
Still, at least it's only a 5 week campaign this time round, so at least it'll all be over soon.
That's something, I guess.
* (I actually wanted to do it in English Literature, but owing to a nasty breakup with my first girlfriend, and not wanting to ever be in the same room as her EVER AGAIN, I decided that it made more sense to finish my degree off in my secondary area of interest, rather than my primary one. Such are the ways of the heart. But, anyway...)
** For our overseas readers - Anthony Green is the Australian Broadcasting Commission's political guru, and something of a cult figure among Australian Politics Junkies
*** again, for the non-aussies: Speedos, Racing bathers, CJ's, briefs etc.... the current leader of the opposition has something of a predilection for being seen in them. Also mountain biking. And hiking.