Saturday, 24 September 2016

Something is happening today

and I may blog about it tomorrow but right now I am feeling more than a little apprehensive. (It is not helped by the weather which is decidedly dreich - the Scots among you will understand what I mean.)
It made me think again about an article in Guardian by Graeme Innes, the former Human Rights Commissioner. He was trying to argue that the Labor Party here in Downunder should appoint a person with a disability to the Senate to replace a senator who has just resigned.
No, I am not putting my paw up for the job. I live in the wrong state for a start. It isn't the sort of job I would want and I am too ancient a cat to start in politics.
I didn't put my paw up at the state election before last when a group I was involved in decided to run two candidates for the state election. I was asked and I said no as kindly as I could but also very firmly. In the end they ran one candidate and a very young girl agreed to be second on the ticket for tactical reasons. Nobody at all was expecting them to come anywhere near actually winning a seat but the politics of compulsory preferential voting is such that they thought they could influence the outcome to favour people they believed would be more supportive of people with disabilities.
What happened was something nobody expected. First of all a fortnight out from the election the first candidate died suddenly and unexpectedly. His name had to remain on the ballot paper. His preferences flowed to the second candidate. The "party" in question had more publicity than they could otherwise have hoped to have.
And....the second candidate got in for an eight year term in the upper house of the state parliament. Nobody, least of all the second candidate, expected it.
She's done a damn good job too. At the beginning she must have been feeling absolutely overwhelmed. I know she was stunned. She told me that herself. "I don't believe it" came from her lips more than once.
One of the reasons she has done a good job is that she knew she needed to listen to advice - and she has had some good advice. The other is that she has recognised that she has to represent the interests of everyone, not just people with disabilities.  
I think Graeme Innes has made a mistake there. He's suggesting that someone should be appointed because they have a disability and that they should be there to represent people with disabilities. That's not the answer. You have to appoint someone with ability and they have, in the case of a senator, to represent their state - although the reality is that senators vote along party lines. That doesn't preclude the person being appointed from having a disability but they do need to have ability as well.
I wonder what will happen at the next state election when she has to "stand" again. Will she get the votes she needs for another term? Does she want another term?
If she does then I hope that voters will recognise her ability.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ability has become the most underrated qualification required in all government related positions, and a lot of positions elsewhere. It used to be the most important, but not any more.