I had a lovely visit to Singleton’s King Street Public School on Monday. Conversing with our primary school students remains one of my favourite responsibilities as a Member of Parliament. They are always respectful, curious and well informed. And of course, sometimes amusing. All of these attributes are a great credit to their teachers and parents.
Sadly COVID-19 has forced a suspension of school visits to Parliament House, it’s a big missed opportunity and a great shame. Recent school visits have alerted me to yet another consequence of COVID-19, the opportunities missed by school leaders and achievers.
School Captains haven’t had the opportunity to represent their school at events, functions and ceremonies. Year 6 kids destined to secure the mantle of “school champion” in their chosen sport have largely missed out in 2020. School excursions and sporting events have ground to a halt. These are hard things to rationalise, process and accept at such a young age.
As sad and disappointing as it all is, I hope our students can draw strength and resilience from it. It’s been a tough year but maybe it will change their perspectives and expectations a little and they can gain from the experience.
I’m a big Rugby League fan and Peter V’landys and his crew have done a wonderful job resurrecting and delivering a 2020 season. But the NRL’s decision do drop the National Anthem for the State of Origin was a bad mistake and I welcome the reversal of the decision. The announcement was a welcome one.
Understandable, deep divisions run through some of our communities over the nature of the Australian settlement and the disadvantage caused to our indigenous people. We have a long way to go before that intergenerational disadvantage is overcome.
Our path to truth-telling, reconciliation, self-determination and empowerment has been too slow and the latest Closing the Gap report demonstrates we must do better. To do so, we’ll need more action and less divisive and unproductive symbolism. Dumping the National Anthem helps no-one and pours fuel on an already difficult process.
By the time this column appears the result of the United States Presidential election will be known. Few things remind us more that the world is changing at a remarkable pace. Whatever the outcome, the result of the election will have shot and long-term consequences for Australia.
Last weekend’s Queensland election reminded us that in relative terms, our democracy is in pretty good shape. There was no violence of any consequence and while “fake news” was not entirely absent, our electoral laws, processes, protocols and courtesies remain pretty good.
We are indeed a lucky country, boasting universal healthcare, good access to education, a strong minimum wage, a good welfare safety net and universal superannuation. All of these things offer a stability not enjoyed by many. Of course, you make your own luck!
The result in Queensland reminds us of the impact of COVID-19, Annastacia Palaszczuk was rewarded for being strong in her determination to keep her citizens safe. Most other issues took a backseat. How many more elections will be dominated by the Corona Virus? No one knows.