The overwhelming, complicated & misrepresented world of state politics
Armed with three seasons of ABC’s “Utopia”, social media posts, snippets of news stories and the uninformed opinions of friends and family… it was safe to say that I went into Our Democracy at Work program day, as an expert on all things State Government… how thoroughly and embarrassingly naïve I was.
What struck home for me was our discussion with the Hon Colin Brooks MP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and Steph Ryan MP, Deputy Leader of the Nationals. Colin and Steph broke my preconceptions of what a political member was and represented. Colin was a down to earth “sparky” with a passion for his local community. He discussed his journey into politics, the relevance of his job as Speaker and even shared a fun fact about a tradition of when speakers are elected…granted, less forcefully than it was in early times from which this tradition came from. Steph Ryan was grounded, compassionate, passionate and determined stepping up as a leader to be a voice for regional Victoria. Surprisingly, she never had plans to pursue a career in politics…this was not what I had thought our politicians were. These were regular people! They are like me, my work mates, my friend sand my family. There was a theme emerging!
By the end of the day, I realised that my view of the Victorian state political system had been thoroughly skewed by my environment. These members had shown instances of passion, vulnerability, strength, frustration, sadness and empathy. Most importantly, they were standing up as leaders to be the voice of their community. Maybe it’s easy for us to blame our members when times are tough or when our community isn’t as great as we had hoped it to be… or maybe, it’s time for us to get involved, to use our voice, and if we feel unheard, to do what our local members have done, and take a courageous step forward and represent our community as a state member – a Leader.
I would like to thank Andres Lomp, Community Engagement Manager, and the tour guides at the Parliament of Victoria, Amy Mackintosh, Philip Stoits and Patrick Boribon for their Virtual Tour of both the Legislative Assembly and Council Chambers (Lower and Upper House), Robert McDonald, Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, and Keir Delaney, Assistant Clerk Procedure of the Legislative Council, for the informative session on the workings of the Victorian Parliament, the Honourable Colin Brooks MP, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, MP Steph Ryan, Deputy leader of the Nationals, and Roma Britnell MP, Member for South West Coast, for sharing their journeys and experience in politics. You have all given us an inciteful and engaging representation of the history, traditions, procedures and people that make up our State Government.
Aaron Leddin, 2021 Program Participant