Tag: Independent Australia

Here we go again . . .

When I started this blog I was determined not to make it too political. The website was to remain – mostly anyway – an activist-free zone. But it’s hard sometimes. I’m not sure what it is about Tasmania but all too often its people tear themselves apart over controversial issues. So far, since I’ve lived here, there have been dams, forests, pulp mills and poker machines. The forestry issue has been ongoing for decades, and with no signs of a resolution. We nearly had one with the hard-fought forestry agreement that for an all- too-brief-time saw an end to the ’wars’ between timber workers and conservationists. The Liberals tore that up when they won government around 10 years ago. Now we’re back to where we were – a situation neither side wished for.

The latest controversy involves football. The AFL version, not soccer – which is of course the ball game of the moment, given the Women’s World Cup Championships, and Australia’s Matildas surpassing all expectations by making the semi-finals. And may the best team win.

But soccer aside, what’s concentrating the minds of Tasmanians is whether the price of finally getting a licence to have a state team in the national AFL draw should depend on building a massive new stadium. The outgoing AFL boss insists it’s a condition of the licence. The premier apparently didn’t say boo to this rather high-handed demand despite most Tasmanians being outraged at the decision. And why not really when we already have two stadiums. One in the South and one in the North. Both have hosted AFL games for years – to audiences that haven’t always filled either stadium. Both stadiums have also successfully hosted other sporting events, as well as concerts.

So once again Tasmania is a state in conflict. The business case for a new stadium is extremely optimistic at best. More than one economist has picked a multitude of holes in it. And with so many other pressing social needs such as health, hospitals, housing and a homelessness crisis, requiring funding, building a stadium is considered the height of reckless extravagance by over half the population. The predictable if depressing result is sides being chosen, sleeves being rolled up, and preparing for another conflict to consume time and energy – for both those who are for it and those who are opposed.

A poem I wrote describes my opinion of the project. I entered it in the Independent Australia competition where I hoped it might at least get published – and raise awareness of the issue on a national platform – but I never believed for a second it could be a winner. But so it is: the July winner in the Fiction/Poetry category. At the No Stadium rally being organised later this month I’ve been invited to read it out.
So once again another poem I’ve written has resonated. I continue to be amazed – but if this one helps to change the hearts and minds of our government, and force a rethink on the terms of the contract, it’s done its job. No to a new stadium. Yes to a team.

Graphic designed by Marion Curtain

A surprise success

I still find it amazing that some of these poems I write, and that I rarely agonise over, take hours to compose, or even – really – take terribly seriously, nevertheless strike a chord or find favour in a publication. Of course they wouldn’t ever do that unless I took the time (and had the confidence) to submit them, and I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t feel they were perhaps worthy, given the majority are unquestioningly and unapologetically political. But even so . . .

In the case of this most recent success, I wrote the poem initially for a Greens’ Fossil Fools Trivia Night fundraiser where the theme was obviously the ongoing climate change risks associated with mining and fracking coal and gas. Two of us were invited to read poems during the evening, and I was one of them. Mine was well received on what was essentially a fun night, albeit with serious undertones, designed to poke fun at the former Coalition government’s failure to take climate change seriously – and to try to help the election of our Greens candidate in the forthcoming Legislative Council. A big ask, and we didn’t succeed this time, but if you don’t try . . .

I filed the poem away in my increasingly bulging folder and gave it little thought until I read the details of a competition and publishing opportunity offered by online media organisation Independent Australia https://independentaustralia.net

Despite subscribing to IA for several years it’s the first time I remember it has invited readers to submit articles, fiction or poetry for consideration for such an opportunity, and one that is running for around three months. Winners and short-listed entries are announced each month, and a selection will be published on the website. To be eligible for consideration all entries, regardless of category, have to be on a current affairs topic, be that political, social justice, environmental etc.

I remembered my Fossil Fool poem and fished it out of the folder. I read it through again. With a bit of tweaking I felt it certainly fitted the brief. So I reworked the last stanza and added another one, completed the entry criteria and sent if off, not really anticipating I’d hear anything back for a while – if ever.
So it was a genuine surprise to learn it had indeed been published, and with its own Mark David cartoon to boot! https://independentaustralia.net/life/art-display/fossil-fools,17603

Whether ‘Fossil Fools’ will progress any further in the IA competition remains to be seen. I won’t know that until sometime in July so watch this space as they say!