Senior Policy Advisor on Law Reform and Immigration
Remember Peter Finch in Network, when he leaned out the window and shouted: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” I think there is a time in everyone’s life when they feel that way. Mine came when, as a barrister, I couldn’t watch the appalling treatment of refugees and asylum seekers anymore. In particular I couldn’t bear to watch around 1000 asylum seekers each year shunted through the courts without any legal representation at all (more like 2000 post Peter Dutton). So I formed the Refugee Law Project with just 10 law students and myself. Our aim was to try to give pro bono help to those 2000 people. A seemingly impossible task. But just 18 months on we have 35 volunteer barristers and 25 of the best final year students from Sydney’s law schools and another dozen or so graduate Volunteer Litigation Assistants, and we are close to achieving our goal of being able to offer everyone help. We lose a lot of the time because we are up against the power of a Government determined to spend as many billions of dollars as is needed, to keep us down. But at least we are in there fighting and it feels good.
My second “mad as hell moment” was when I realised that I couldn’t have a coffee with any of my friends, whatever their political persuasion, without us bitching about how frustrating, self-serving, and just plain ignorant all our politicians were, and how impotent we felt at having nowhere to go. My Liberal voting friends still voted Liberal but with no enthusiasm because Labor looked even worse. And my Labor voting friends, searched desperately for a reason to vote Labor, and in the end only did so because they looked the lesser of two evils.
So I drafted a Charter of Core Values for a new political party and showed it to everyone I knew. They all loved it, whatever their bent, Labor, Liberal or Green. Because it was not a politician’s document. It was a document of everyone’s key concerns, that looked at the needs of Australia and Australians, all of them, not just the politicians. And so The New Liberals was born. Politics without politicians. A grass roots team aiming to get us back to a place of justice all our citizens could be proud of, and all our visitors and neighbours would approve.
But if you want to know more about me, check out: The House at Anzac Parade.