Perth Diary Articles

17/05/2009 Perth Diary Is Online!

Ok, you lucky readers have two options: you can either read the heavily edited version (censored for public tastes) that was published in the Leader here, or you can read the uncensored version in this entry.

The reason they censored is because a) it was probably too long and b) I made the mistake of talking about Ms. Penny Wong who I think is a really awesome Australian politician because she is both the first Asian woman in Federal Australian politics and she is also the first openly homosexual one which I think is equally awesome. I wasn’t told that my article for this week was going to be edited that much and honestly, I don’t mind because I understand that it’s not to the tastes of those who read the Now Magazine to read about homosexuality even when it isn’t the main topic of discussion at all. Also, quite possibly, children and kids read the Now Magazine so I can see why I can’t discuss such things. I do wish the Leader had given me a brief or list of taboo subjects or something though. I mean I had the flu last week, and I can never think straight when I have the flu. It’s also not one of my best articles – I rambled on a bit.

My only problem with the Leader is that I wish they had edited it more creatively – I had a lovely ending that had nothing to do with the taboo topics. They could have just cut the offending paragraph out. I only hope they don’t decide to run the second half of it next week.

But I did want to give anyone who did want all of the entire article, the chance to read it in full, so I am posting it here. So if you are not happy about reading about homosexuality even in brief, click here and read the Leader’s version, else continue on.

Perth Diary: Vote For … Who Now?
Date: 17th May 2009

This weekend, I have to vote.

What I am voting for is strange. There is a referendum on for whether or not Western Australia adopts Daylight Savings.

Daylight Savings is something you do to get more hours of daylight during the winter. In the winter season in temperate countries, there are less hours of sunlight during the day than there would be during the summer season. This of course, can have an effect on trading hours and so on.

So what you do is you set your clocks ahead one hour in the winter. This means you get up earlier in the morning and you get more hours of daylight.

The East Coast states in Australia have adopted Daylight Savings. Western Australia is usually two or three hours behind the East Coast depending on the season.

So what the Western Australian government decided to do was to trial Daylight Savings for three years. They mucked it up royally.

First off, it only makes sense to apply the concept during the winter months. This then allows the hours of daylight to be evened out between the summer and winter months and it makes sense because everyone’s body clock can operate at a somewhat regular schedule rather than shift with the seasons.

Instead, the State Government applied during the summer months. This is what happens when politicians and their advisors don’t take high school level Geography. If the East Coast states apply it during the summer months that probably due to the fact that they have slightly different weather patterns on the East Coast. I mean, it snows in Melbourne!!

The end result is that for three years the Western Australia population was annoyingly cheesed off that they had to get up earlier during the summer months when they were going to stay up later anyway. How weird is it to have the sun set at nine in the evening? In the summer, it usually rises at six a.m. and sets at a decent time of sixor seven in the evening. There were lots of stories from parents who could not get their kids to go to bed because it was still light outside and so the kids weren’t tired.

Then everytime we switched back to winter we were too sluggish, too tired, too knackered. We weren’t getting enough time, enough hours, enough sleep.

Now finally the curse is over. The referendum is on this Saturday. We now get to vote for whether we want it or not. However the current State government (The Liberals) are sending around their biggest idiot (and yes, he is an idiot) to fan the flames and attempt everyone to vote Yes on Saturday. If they bring the damned thing back, I am moving.

The daylight thing does affect me, I was born and raised in the tropics. My body is tuned into things like how much daylight there is and so on. I could have lived with Daylight Savings had they introduced during the winter instead but really, now that I have gotten used to Perth weather somewhat, the last thing I want is anyone going and messing with it.

I don’t know of anyone who has benefited from it. Sure, some people had longer trading hours during the summer but they had shorter trading hours during the winter and so this didn’t work out. In fact, if attracting business is all that the Liberals are concerned about then they should stop fighting the motion for allowing longer trading hours on the weekends and the ability to trade 24/7.

People complain all the time that Perth is not a cosmopolitan city. But the only way to become a cosmopolitan city is to cater to as many different lifestyles of the people living in it as possible. Which means allowing businesses to trade after hours or 24/7 so that shift workers and night workers are provided for. It means ensuring that small businesses don’t have to pay exorbitant fees to join city councils or to register for taxes, licences and permits thereby preventing them from being a loss before they have even started trading.

It means reviewing basic wages as often as possible in an attempt to see if they match up to the standard of living and its costs. It means providing more tangible assistance to those making the transition into the workforce. It means making basic needs more accessible.

This is why I never vote for parties. I find that the logic and the basic knowledge behind party policies is often lacking. On Saturday I am going to have to also vote for a by-election for Fremantle, thereby electing someone to the city council (if I have got that right). I am currently wondering why I can see the mayor doing the political rounds but not any of the candidates running for the by-election. Heck, I don’t even know who they are yet though obviously I will endeavour to find out before I turn up. But it makes me wonder if they are really trying at all?

I walk around Fremantle everyday. There are people handing out leaflets for all sorts of causes but none for those running for the by-election. There are no posters up in the town hall. No adverts on TV. Not really much in the city’s newspaper. Where are these mysterious candidates hiding? Where? Nothing has been stuffed in my mailbox recently, though the Labour representative for Fremantle loves being in constant contact but she isn’t running. I know, everyone is supposed to vote. It’s compulsory. So you don’t need to advertise to get people to turn up but you still do need to advertise to convince them to vote for you or your candidate. I suppose people expect the favourite (ie: the Labour candidate since Fremantle is a Labour stronghold and practically the birthplace of the Labour party itself) to win. That doesn’t mean you don’t try.

When you look at the figures for the last election, yes Labour got Fremantle but the margin by which it did decreased dramatically. I think we were all a bit sick of our State Labour rep, Jim McGinty who I will never address with his honorific because he has never given me a reason to believe that he is in anyway honourable. Anyway, there really wasn’t much of a gap between him and the Climate Change Coalition and the Greens. Now that is scary, I’d give my vote to the Climate Change Coalition but never to the Greens. The Greens have crappy logic and very askewed scientific knowledge behind their policies and they are so fanatical and fundamentalist about them that they will never renew them even in the face of new scientific evidence. They are the sort of people who are against logging even when it is carried out in an environmentally sustainable manner. I honestly don’t know anyone who has ever done Geography or Environmental Science who supports the Greens. They all support Labour instead.

There is one current Australian politician I do admire though. She isn’t from Fremantle and she doesn’t represent Western Australia. She is part of the current Federal (national) Government. Her name is Penny Wong. The reason I think she is awesome is not because she is passionate about her portfolio which is the Minister for Climate Change, which is awesome in itself because I doubt our Treasurer Wayne Swan is at all interested in Finance. It’s not because she is the first Asian woman to attain such a high political position which is pretty cool in of itself and makes you wonder what took them so long but then again we had the Liberals and Nationals (both misnomers because they are ultra conservative) in power for ten years.

No, the reason that Penny Wong is an awesome politician is because she is the first openly homosexual politican as well (Yes, we are progressive liberal people in this country, you know. Same sex couples now get the same benefits that heterosexual couples do. If that bugs you, go flaunt your rage elsewhere.). Her private life is her private life and I don’t think she ever flaunts her sexual choices or her partner but she doesn’t hide the fact either. And I think that’s important because this is why Kevin Rudd’s government works.

His government works with the people because it inspires them and it sends out the message that everyone is included. We have former Midnight Oil’s frontman taking on the Environment portfolio which is awesome because even as a musician he had a long history of environmental and social justice advocacy. The message is that anyone can aspire to politics. They have Asians and Aboriginals, they have both men and women including the first Australian female to hold the Deputy Prime Minister position, Julia Gillard and of course Penny Wong. The lesser known portfolios are held by very young politicians, another strange but welcome move. You don’t have to wait till you turn forty to get a position. It sends out the message that the government and country is all inclusive, a message that hopefully filters down into all levels of the population. It would be nice if it was true across the country.

And I wish we had politicians like that in Fremantle. I think they need to get a move on. Forget being inspiring, if they are not even showing their faces to the Fremantle population, what good are they as politicians?

I mean, come on, how can I even hope to vote for you, if I don’t know you? If all you are to me on Saturday is a strange name next to a check box?

– Marisa Wikramanayake

As always comments are welcome. Even if you tell me I am writing crap this week, which I am pretty sure I am actually, since I didn’t really edit this very well and I rambled on so much.

Cheers and sneezes, Marisa.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

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