As the dust settles

Yesterday NSW had an election. It was a landslide. that many others will no doubt talk of for many days to come.

Picking up on a post from Mary over at HAT, yes I think she might be right. From what I saw in the literature, there was a higher number of “baseline” accessible venues.

But I never left the house to vote.

I iVoted. At home. On my own laptop. More privately than I did more than once at a polling place.

Designed for people with vision impairment who use screen readers and various other disabilities – they broadened it out to allow travelling folks to feel included too.

The information on the iVote website read:

You can vote before Polling Day using iVote if:

  • your vision is so impaired, or you are otherwise so physically incapacitated or so illiterate, that you are unable to vote without assistance,
  • you are unable to vote without assistance or have difficulty voting at a polling place because you have a disability (within the meaning of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977),
  • your real place of living is not within 20 kilometres, by the nearest practicable route, of a polling place; or
  • you will not be in New South Wales throughout the hours of polling on polling day

.

The process was painless enough for the fact it was hard to see the bigger Legislative Council in its entirety, and I had to do this sequentially as opposed to top and tailing it as I normally do.

Yes I would do it again. But my question is; is this going to simply be a work around so the various electoral commissions don’t need to improve the distances to and percentages of accessible venues. I hope not. But sadly I fear so

 

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the cost of a vote

I perhaps should have warned folks not to get me started on election equity issues, but a good mate of mine added this to a comment on this post

Still distrubing to see so many polling booths inaccessable, though at least in the Marrickville LGA it’s better that it was at he last local government election.

Yes well — it might indeed be *better* but really that’s not saying much now is it? I know people from the last Federal election who had to get excused from their democratic right and responsibility to vote (it’s compulsory here in Australia) because they had assumed there would be at least one they could get into in their electorate( of say 20 polling centres), so it was too late to pre-poll or postal vote. Different electorate than the one refered to in the comment mind you.

As for me — I have to drive or be driven to cast my vote despite voting in an area where there are booths much closer than the one I will be forced to use.

How does even having to think this hard about how one is going to do what one is democratically entitled and legally required to do (quite apart from deciding who gets your vote), reflective of Australia signing the UN Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability 2 years ago.

Accessible buses are unreliable in this area on Saturday and a cab will cost me $20 from within the electorate to go vote even with my discount. How exactly is that fair? Almost less hassle to not bother voting and pay the fine that ensues. Very good for democracy. Not.

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A vision or not

I did some googling and searching on YouTube for videos from Australia by people with disabilities. I came up sadly very short. Nothing really from a sense of community of disability here in Australia. I don’t think we have made the leap between sector and community; between political and social.  Both are necessary, but I fear that we are too busy fighting with both the politicians and sadly ourselves to share just thoughts.

So here are my “just thoughts”  on a recent trip to Melbourne, on seeing 18 people with apparent impairments, on inclusive process (ok I got a bit political) and on “drop jaw”.

The lighting is bad and my voice was not ideal, but this is my offering. It goes for 18 minutes (which means it is split on YouTube but in one piece here.

My thoughts on inclusion and access in Melbourne Australia from Joanna Nicol on Vimeo.

There may be others, if I can find the charger for the camera!  

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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Are we at the starting blocks?

Get ready its going to be a bumpy ride and a long run.

In the wake of what seemed a somewhat elongated UK election (who is David Cameron anyway?), I got to thinking about our own political landscape here in Australia. For those of us in New South Wales at least, we can look forward to two general, compulsory elections between say July this year and March next year. The state one next year is a fixed date election, so we can see it coming and boy can we see it coming.

Those with an eye for politics are expecting our PM to call the Federal election before the end of this year. Before Federal issues start getting (more) mixed with State ones. It can’t happen during September because of Fathers’ Day and all the football finals. I think the latest in the year I’ve voted at that level is November. October elections are more common. I’ve even voted on my birthday. Some of the folks in the know here are predicting either August or October.

You can tell things are gearing up. Tuesday night saw the delivering of the Federal budget, an amazingly low-key low spend budget for a Labor government in an election year. In order to bring the budget back into the black. My guess is (as Peter Hatcher has proposed) is that the intent was to take the “Labor are financially irresponsible” argument away from the Opposition, something that appears to have worked:

THE morning after and Canberra awoke with a post-budget headache only to have Tony Abbott add to the pain by saying the Rudd government started out as Paris Hilton and ended up Uncle Scrooge.

I don’t think that’s much of a sting to come back with. Circumstances change. The economy has changed. It might be quite confident to not feel one has to spend but still.

That was yesterday. Today of course, leadership speculation.

Tomorrow?

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We are shrinking and maybe not just the economy

It seems official. Australia has just experienced its first quarter of negative growth in 8 years with a drop of half a percent in the GDP.  We are spending less after the aparent boom of the past 17 years. As Peter Hatcher as pointed out this must be exceedingly frustruteding for the Government.

For Rudd Labor, taking power just as a 17-year boom turns to bust is profoundly frustrating

The timing is bad. Just as I suspect the Obama administration inherited problems originating from a careless Bush era, I fear much the same was always bound to happen to this Government. Recessions do not develop overnight and while they have been in power for 18 months now, i think the responsibility needs to be shared.

Australia lost some of its soul in the last 5 or so years. Continue reading

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Anzac thoughts

I watched a lot of television yesterday: the ANZAC day coverage. Moved and annoyed.

My grandfather was an engineer during WWI – on the Western Front. He came back and married my grandmother sometime later. He lived to 91. It might be hard to argue that his life was shortened, but as I sat there watching the ceremonies I was curious about what he would say to me now that I’m an adult.

I watched as arthritic men and women braved cold and wet conditions and the wobbles of age to process down George St — showing a different kind of courage. There was pride in the ability to do that, the freedom not just of State, but of limb.

The inevitable aging of the participants was evident. There was an increased number of taxis carrying those too frail to walk. There were also more troop carriers scattered throughout. The commentators struggled with how to accommodate these folks while still lauding those that marched. There was generally a lot of confusion about who was marching because the groups were too small to read the banners. Mind you the lead commentator, a John Moore, even got the year wrong, refering to this as the 2009 march!

PB and I talked about the potential future of the march. That part of history lost. Perhaps some mark of respect; a medal or token needs to be given to the families of Diggers in addition to medals (many of which would be at the War Memorial).

Then we switched to the commercial stations who did much more professional commercial-free coverage of the services at Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux. Both were moving with the commentators knowing when to be quiet. It was beautiful and fitting to hear the lapping of the water against the shores of Gallipoli during the two-minute silence and have that left as is by the producers. Seeing the silhouettes of the strong crowd amid not only the sandstone monument wall but the gravestones was stiring and chillesd me to know my mother was among them those attending the service.

I am inspired now to make better use of the freedom won. Thank you. I can’t take that for granted because it is not a once for all promise. Freedom like all vibrant and living gifts request our blessing and vigilant tendering. May I be up to the task before me.

Lest we forget.

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