Image for While we were sleeping ...

First published November 28

There seems to be a lot going wrong. And it’s been developing for some time. I also think it is all interconnected and that the underlying cause is the mal-direction of our governments. I again hark back to Alan Paton’s line: “The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” Our governments are missing in action – negligent even – by not dealing with the most important things that need attention.

I am deeply worried about the state of the environment – both locally and globally; disgusted with the state of government; and coupled with the continuing poor conduct of some of our politicians, I am also concerned about the state of our democracy.

The recent image of Gina Rinehart handing a $40K cheque to Barnaby Joyce for his farming excellence was the real clincher for me. I’m guessing there were only two people in the room that awards night who didn’t know something was terribly wrong with that picture. It speaks volumes about the relationship between the two and how boundaries between their two different positions have become inappropriately, and worryingly, blurred. How many other politicians have cosy relationships like that?

The infamous Barnaby award, coupled with the revelations of widespread water theft under the noses of governments in NSW & Qld, brought me to a head.  Out of nowhere, I then found myself expressing how I felt through poetry. I’m not a poet - this is my first attempt - but surprisingly the process was a lot of fun.

So this is an open invitation to all TTers to have some fun too:  try to compose one or two stanzas of your own to add to mine, and post as a comment.  We can make a crowd-written ‘ode to our democracy’ and show our politicians or governments how we all feel and what we think …

It was while we were sleeping
through the years of affluence and good health,
that our country was being stealthily stolen
by greed, and those seeking obscene wealth.

At first it wasn’t really noticeable,
for only some species and habitat had disappeared.
Apart from that, it was business as usual
with progress, growth and development in top gear.

Our governments and politicians were ecstatic,
and emboldened by great growth, growing exports and trade,
they continued to develop and grow even more-so
to ensure even more and more money was being made.

All the while, dire warnings came from concerned scientists.
Carbon was burdening the atmosphere globally, they said,
and our lifestyle and emissions were unsustainable
if we continued on, status quo, full steam ahead.

Certain governments, neoliberalists, remained steadfast,
while the deniers and obscene wealth-takers joined their cause
to besmirch the scientists, misinform, and try to convince us,
saying “climate change is just a fiction, a hoax, after all”.

But something went terribly wrong somewhere, somehow.
For despite government assurances and talk of endless growth,
our dear country is now struggling, sick and depauperate
with forests depleted; bleaching reefs; and rivers a-choke.

We expected government to deal with these ecological crises.
New policies and urgent action required, we assumed.
But successive governments were instead too busy dealing with
their factions, or backbenchers, and minutiae… Oh, we’re doomed!

It appears those greedy people had a hidden agenda,
all along; a strategy for control and command.
They’d manipulated and corrupted the process’ of governments
by infiltration, their influence on more than one man.

Wake up, we’re being played and duped to lull us, voters,
whilst our democracy and country are under attack.
There are self-serving politicians who are cosy enablers
and they ingratiate themselves to a favoured wealthy pack.

Wake up. Attention all voters!
Your country and the planet both need you now
to resuscitate and restore health to ecological systems,
and bring integrity, altruism and leadership to the helm.

We must change the whole political system, don’t you see?
Two-party preferred and neoliberalism both woefully failed.
The solution is to bring in a new complement of candidates
willing to champion all that others have long assailed.

I don’t know where these candidates will all come from.
But perhaps there are an existing good few
to be found subsumed and silenced within major parties,
and keen to be free to independently bloom?

So wake up – please – all you sleepyheads.
We have to make our politicians surely know
that henceforth we demand better quality candidates;
high standard of government; and, a healthy, sustainable home.

*Lyndall Rowley is a concerned citizen ... and voter

• Lyndall Rowley in Comments: The breaking Dastyari news prompted my next effort at poetry (using Tim’s #6 style as a guide) ...