For The First Time In My Adult Life, I Actually Think A Progressive Australia Is Possible

I think I speak for us all when I say that Scott Morrison getting the arse has cleared my skin and cured my depression. But it’s the election result as a whole that’s really making me think a progressive Australia is possible.

I never thought Anthony Albanese would actually win — I found Labor’s policies uninspiring and out of step with what’s needed to fix our country’s mounting crises: climate change, unaffordable housing, refugee policy, poverty, et al. They’re basically the same, shitty party with a red coat of paint. But as it turns out, not being Scott Morrison is enough to win an election. I probably should have guessed.

The prospect of a more competent and less corrupt government is buoying me somewhat — in fact, it’s deeply disappointing that Aussie are willing to vote for a party whose sole draw is “we’re less bad”. It is, however, pulling me back from the “we’re completely fucked” brink. Labor won’t fix all our problems willingly, but they can be convinced. The Coalition can’t.

I’m not the only one who feels this way — The Body Shop Global Youth Survey recently found that about 80 per cent of young Aussies feel politicians don’t listen to them and that the political system needs a huge overhaul to be fit for purpose. Honestly, this isn’t very surprising. Labor looks set to continue some of the Coalition’s cruelest policies — such as offshore detention and turning back asylum seeker boats.

So with that in mind, what’s really buttering my toast is what happened in Queensland. The Greens have picked up at least two new seats in a state generally (and unfairly) maligned as more conservative than the rest of the country.

Even though Labor won’t commit to an emissions reduction target which would make Australia do its bit to avoid catastrophic climate change, we at least have elected MPs who will fight against the destruction of the biosphere as we know it.

Newly-elected MP for Griffith, Kevin Rudd’s former seat, Max Chandler-Mather tells me voters in his electorate really care about climate change and building a fairer society.

“It’s left me feeling really hopeful and inspired that a strategy we have been building over the past six years and an assumption that people aren’t conservative they just feel justifiably disillusioned with the system, worked,” he says.

The “strategy” he used to win over his new constituents was… talking to them. There’s a long-held (and correct) view within the Greens that the media doesn’t take them seriously and ignores them. Max says circumventing the traditional gatekeepers of political discourse was all that was needed to sell people on “left” ideas on how to the climate, the housing crisis, et cetera.

“What people want is someone who works in their community and they can talk to, face-to-face,” he says.

“People have this correct notion that decades ago that there was a direct connection between politicians and their communities. Recently there has been a hollowing out of the political class.

“Our movement has been about rebuilding that trust.”

The face-to-face interactions aren’t limited to door-knocking. It also includes mutual aid like pitching in to help out after the floods by cleaning up and bringing people care packages, enabled by the army of party faithful the Queensland Greens have built up over the years. The victories in Griffith and nearby Ryan belong to the volunteers as much as they do Max and Elizabeth Watson-Brown, the new MP for the latter electorate.

“It’s crucial for us to recognise that our people power movement shows you don’t just change things in parliaments, you change things in the communities,” Max says.

I feel inspired. Not only because a group of people can feel strongly enough about change to knock on more than 90,000 doors, but also that the people behind those doors can actually be amenable enough to embrace progressivism when the politician preaching it meets them at their level.

And given that acting on climate change and Australia’s economic issues is actually possible with a competent government in charge, the country’s future looks better than it has in nine years.

Max says Greens in other states could adopt their approach, meanwhile the Queensland Greens will spend the next three years solidifying its grip on the inner-city.

“What I’m most excited about is using the resources in the federal electorate office to turbo charge our movement.

“We’re in the infant stages of what we’re capable of.”

For the first time in my adult life, I feel like a better Australia isn’t a pipe dream.