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Don't move to New Zealand, stay and fight



In the few days before the election, I was looking forward to no longer being ambushed by Clive Palmer advertisements and flyers in my letterbox. I was enjoying having robust discussions with previously ambivalent friends and colleagues — mostly around wages and climate change.

Newly elected Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, joined by wife Jenny and daughters Lilly and Abbey, speaks at the Liberal Party reception at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel on 18 May 2019 in Sydney. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)I felt truly hopeful that the people of Australia would follow the advice of this Tweet: 'Tomorrow, vote like you are a refugee. Vote like you are Indigenous. Vote like you are female. Vote like you can't find stable work. Vote like you can't afford a home. Vote like a young person. Vote like we're all in this together.'

Naturally, I went into an afternoon of volunteering — handing out how to vote cards — in my local area feeling incredibly optimistic and proud of how open people had been throughout the campaign. It seemed that people were realising they had the power to create real change. I felt confident climate change, the minimum wage and penalty rates, corruption in banking, our treatment of refugees and increasing support for people with disabilities would be key to the result of the election.

I was watching the ABC's election coverage with Antony Green but had to turn it off at about 8:30pm because I was so disheartened by the result. I languished on the couch eating chocolate for the rest of the evening until I collapsed into bed crying at about midnight.

I'd been scrolling through my social media feeds and they were awash with posts from my friends — many of whom are queer, disabled or on low incomes — worrying about their futures and the future of our earth. I saw countless posts with people saying 'That's it, I'm moving to NZ'.

I completely understand the desire people had to give up — I felt it too. I was scared, sad and deeply ashamed to be an Australian — to live in a country where it seems self-interest is prioritised above all else. And as this meme on Facebook so accurately depicted, the waves of grief come randomly as you continue to think about the lasting and drastic impact this election result is likely to have.

Visa applicants wanting to come to Australia are required to sign a values statement. According to this statement, Australian values include: 'a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good' and 'equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background'.


"Giving up isn't an option. Not only is it elitist and antagonistic but it's just not the best way forward."


These are values all Australians supposedly share, that we advertise to the rest of the world as a key part to being an Aussie. And yet we have collectively voted for the complete opposite. It is astounding and shocking to me that we can have strayed so far from these values, that we can support and vote for people who are openly racist, homophobic and encouraging of an individualistic and hate driven society.

But then I looked on my social media feeds one last time before falling asleep and I saw this Tweet: 'I've woken up today determined more than ever to fight for the human rights of refugees. Just because our country chose the politics of fear, hate & division doesn't mean we have to. I chose love. I chose unity. I chose justice. I chose compassion. I chose fairness. Will you join me?'

And this post on Facebook: ''That's it, I'm leaving Australia!' as a reaction to the election gets less funny when you realise it's literally just your allies saying they'll choose to leave you to fight for your culture against fascists.'

These quotes showed me that giving up isn't an option. Not only is it elitist and antagonistic but it's just not the best way forward. We must not give up. No matter how defeated, deflated and disheartened we might feel, there are people whose voices cannot be heard, who have not got the ability to fight, and we need to stand with them. To quote Kon again:

'To refugees, women, DV survivors, First Nations People, workers, unemployed, LGBTIQA, young people, students, disabled, Muslims, PoC, and everyone who wants action on climate change, know I stand with you tonight and am ready to fight with you come Monday for a fair Australia for all of you.'

Don't let hate, fear and division win. Stand with your mates, let them know you support them and hear their struggles. And follow the advice of Brené Brown by leaning into fear and being vulnerable, because in that vulnerability is courage. 



Brenna DempseyBrenna Dempsey is a freelance writer and involved in various areas of activism while studying at University.

Main image: Newly elected Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, joined by wife Jenny and daughters Lilly and Abbey, speaks at the Liberal Party reception at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel on 18 May 2019 in Sydney. (Photo by Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

Topic tags: Brenna Dempsey, Scott Morrison, election 2019, asylum seekers



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Existing comments

Nah. Australia has made it abundantly clear that it's everyone for themselves. New Zealand's looking good.

Buggered | 20 May 2019  

Good one Brenna. And remember, for many of us (not all) urban dwellers in Australia, life is still pretty good right now. We are educated, we are capable, we are not starving, we are not living in fear of our lives. We still have the time and capability (and heart) to consider issues beyond our four walls. And because we still have those resources at our disposal, let's continue to use them. I remember a line from one of the Hawke docos over the past week - about Hawke playing the long game. While our current crop of leaders play the short game, we need to gear ourselves - physically, mentally, spiritually - for the long game. There's strength and integrity in that.

Anne Marie | 20 May 2019  

Thanks, I needed to hear that, how could I leave when you've put it so eloquently? I also choose love and compassion ?

David Beighton | 20 May 2019  

Brenna, you say fight the good fight, but with what? How? This is animal farm and the pigs are in control. The whole planets is being screwed by psychopaths such as those once again in power in Australia. The fate of the human race, of civilisation, is in the balance, but short of violent revolution, what can we do to save ourselves? It seems as though most of the people in power believe they will survive the catastrophe to come, so they are free to focus on converting nature into dollars. The fight you encourage us to fight is a fight we (all humanity) have already lost.

John Poxon | 20 May 2019  

Fear and lies won this election. In sport, cheating will get you disqualified. In politics, anything goes. We will now lose another 3 years doing something meaningful to minimise climate change. It’s probably already too late; humanity has sealed its fate.

Frank S | 20 May 2019  

We cannot expect the government to do everything, or even anything, if we do nothing. It was President Franklin Roosevelt who said: "You know, Mr. Randolph, I've heard everything you've said tonight, and I couldn't agree with you more. I agree with everything that you've said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. ... But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it." I am sure at least some government politicians believe we need to take steps to transition to renewable energy. For example, the grid needs to be redesigned and rebuilt to handle renewable energy. Instead of saying the climate will get us, focus on promoting things that we need to do. There is a Brisbane company, Tritium, which has done this and it has developed and sells charging stations for electric vehicles which it exports world wide to America and Europe. Tritium is successful even though the market here is limited at present. Go out there and make the transition to renewable energy happen.

Peter Horan | 20 May 2019  

Do we live in the same country ? Freedom of speech, freedom of region, freedom of association, socialized medicine, affordable education. My health practitioner who would be in the 1% told me today that he and his wife collected furniture that had been discarded when they first got married, no furniture, no heat, no phone but plenty of determination and gratefulness to be alive and in this extraordinary country. He is 69 and he still works as does his wife. He said to me, "people think we had it easy but we did'nt, we just started working and we have never stopped". By well held estimates between 20-30% of the country pay net tax meaning somewhere between 70 and 80% are "net" recipients of services and "takers". What is an acceptable level ? that does not sound sustainable to me. Yes to social justice. Yes to looking after people that need help! Yes to giving everyone an opportunity to succeed! NO to legislating for equal outcome.

Ptrick | 20 May 2019  

Thank you for this article Brenna, l think it captures how many of us feel. I had a dream....actually it was a nightmare last week, that Morrison won, and there fell a pall over the whole country. It was distressing to say the least. Yes, lets choose humanity and integrity and keep fighting for these qualities, or we become even more like our best friend..America!!!

Julie Shannon | 21 May 2019  

The next three years will be interesting. Economically Australia is on shaky ground. Liberals won because of UAP and Murdoch corrupt influences. They couldn’t otherwise. But Labor presented too many changes for most Australians. I believe this will be a difficult three years and then Labor will be back. My fears are for the needy in that time.

Cate | 21 May 2019  

The golden child, a web of lies, and a bit of Cambridge analytics; on reflection, no wonder the won.

Colin | 21 May 2019  

Them and us. The "Us" sees themselves as more moral than "they" are. Is that how we want our nation? The them and us mentality has been very much the case since the last Federal Election. Three out of eight people voted 'no' to same sex marriage. Have they been made to feel morally inferior? Are those who oppose abortion seen as morally inferior and dinosaurs of our time. These people have been the losers in recent times in the political arena. Everyone knows these "them" people are the anti climate, conservative, free market advocates who lack a social conscience. Or are they? Once we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling without asking them, without listening to them, then it becomes a state of "them and us". We get into the divisive situation we see with Trump and Brexit. Both major parties in Australia are disrespectful to the voters. The Labor Party just happened win the most disrespectful award by swinging voters this time round. So do we move to NZ. No, we fight respectfully for our planet's survival, for all our species survival.

Alban Hunt | 21 May 2019  

Thanks Brenna for the reminder to keep on. This weekend I shut down very disillusioned. Yet I know finding hope still in my heart and getting back up on the horse is the only way. I may now not be here to see eg the Makarrata Statement from the Heart (Uluru Statement be enshrined in our parliament but with young people like you I believe in the long journey 'All is well' Thank you again for your spirit of hope

Colleen Keating | 21 May 2019  

Brenna, I was with you from beginning to end of your article. The same amazed disappointment, for the same reasons. Kon’s commitment, which I’d read on his website, touched me, too. However, I’d like to depart from you in one thing. I don’t believe, as you seem to, that Australians have become greedy fascists who’ve happily put self-interest first. I think that Australians have become afraid (partly because of real issues, and partly because politicians and media have chosen to exacerbate and use these real fears to divide us. They were afraid, and they turned to the only people who appeared to be listening to them. When you say we need to stand by our mates, you’re right. But ‘our mates’ aren’t just the people whose politics are the same as ours. They’re (in this case) the people of Australia (Queensland even)! Let’s all do more listening and understanding and uniting to solve real problems. We can’t achieve our common goals while we allow ourselves to be polarised and antagonistic. I know it’s piocious and simplistic to say we need to work together. But we could at least start by listening to each other.

Joan Seymour | 21 May 2019  

I urge you, Brenna, and your many grieving supporters not to leave Australia in search of a better, fairer, safer or, in the event of illness or other disadvantage, more supportive place to live. The Scandinavian countries are your only options with similar government benefits to those that exist here - but then, they are becoming progressively angrier with the "refugee" influx in Europe which has overflowed into their countries with unsettling consequences and disruptions for the local population.

john frawley | 21 May 2019  

I'd rather not live here, too hard. I'd rather die here than live here..... I will do my research and move to New Zealand if all goes well. I just know, i can no longer fight to live in Australia! I will not stay here.

yvonne | 21 May 2019  

Brenna, I sympathise with your distress. But I don't suppose Bob Brown and his caravan of rag tag professional barefoot protesters had anything to do with the LNP success? Queenslanders want jobs, not to be told that nothing coal related, or mining related or gas related or tourism related is going ahead. Nor that possible future environmental threats are more important than food in the mouths of their children. The DFC developed at Qld University converts coal to gas/energy with no combustion with an 85% useage rate and only a 2% CO2 emission. Power and steel companies have to embrace new technologies, not throw the baby out with the bath water. Youth unemployment in Qld is at 25%. Every time a Green sees someone with a chain saw or stamp on a feral rat the whole development process has to grind to a halt. And look at the number of Kiwis living here (2018 ABS). New South Wales: 114,231 Western Australia: 70,735 Queensland: 192,037 Victoria: 80,235 Australia wide 650,000. That's more than a few extra mouths to feed nationwide.

Francis Armstrong | 21 May 2019  

I feel your pain Brenna - almost. I wasn't looking forward to a Shorten win and had reconciled myself to that by choosing to honor the process, the outcome and ultimately the new leader of our nation. But the people overwhelming decided on the incumbent. I may have been in your shoes, but I doubt it. As much as I disliked Shortens manner I respect him for his service to our nation and was prepared to honor the position and the man. The 'resistance' narrative you promote reminds me of the anti Trump 'Not my president' ANTIFA protests which just further divided and mocked the political processes - don't do that. Read other peoples perspectives on this instead of confirming all your biases on facebook. You are seeing the world through colored glasses (as I do), so try on another pair - regularly, to maintain some objectivity.

Matt | 21 May 2019  

Are you saying Brenna that everyone who did not vote for Labor or the Greens believes in "hate, fear and division". Have you considered, that it maybe just possible that the majority of people who did not vote for your preferred parties could also be generous, caring and egalitarian? These people may just believe that the policies put forward by Labor/Greens were not suited for the nation at this time. Australia is a pretty good place to live and this is shown by the number of people of all backgrounds who wish to migrate here. The country of course has problems, but these problems can be solved without bagging the country or citizens who have a different opinion

Robert Harpham | 21 May 2019  

This article explains why Labor lost. The tone of moral superiority is just too much. One side lost, and the other won – just. Next time it might be different, or it might not, but there is no need for all this over-emotive wailing.

Chris Curtis | 21 May 2019  

Francis Armstrong, yes people want jobs. They voted for short term security and not for the future of the planet. The death of the planet is assured if we keep burning coal and oil unless we can remove the resulting CO2 with as-yet unavailable large scale new technology before all ice at the poles melts, releasing methane that is far more effective for global warming so that it will finish off humanity and most other life on the planet. There are more jobs in tourism than there will ever be in fossil fuels in Australia. But with the Barrier Reef dead and the tropical rainforests dying as the planet warms, I don’t think Queensland will get many tourists. However efficient we get at converting coal to gas, burning the gas will generate as much CO2 as burning the coal it came from, less the 2% conversion loss and 15% wastage rate. Yes metal refining companies have to embrace new technologies, that might be using electricity generated renewably from sunlight, wind, geothermal sources, etc. Never mind a few 100,000s Kiwis, wait for the millions of climate refugees that will find their way to Australia before climate change makes every continent uninhabitable for humanity and we all die.

Frank S | 21 May 2019  

At the end of the 19th century, following defeat of union led strikes across Australia, William Lane and followers moved to Paraguay. They had become disillusioned with the state of Australian politics following an ideological split in the labour movement. He and a group of utopian acolytes (among them influential writer and poet Mary Gilmore) moved to Paraguay in 1892 to found New Australia, with the intention of building a new society on the foundations of his utopian ideals. Following disagreement with the colony regarding the legality of miscegenation and alcohol consumption, he left to found the nearby colony Cosme in May 1894, and later abandoned the project altogether in 1899. He resettled in New Zealand and continued his journalistic endeavours until his death in August 1917. After his death he was both celebrated as a champion of utopian socialism, and condemned as the arrogant leader of a failed new society. This quickness to judgement is akin to judging history from watching the second arm moving on a clock. The perception of New Zealand is illusory. I found it so 44 years ago when considering moving to NZ post the Whitlam demise. I wake each day to create my own reality. I help refugees [300 plus arrive every week!]; I help people struggling; I talk to homeless people on the street and often find myself in a cuddle. I have found myself in this attitude. I educate where I can. Give what I can. Love openly; we are all brothers and sisters in this world. It's the best answer.

John Kilner | 22 May 2019  

On second thoughts, it would probably serve Australia well if the angry political activist/bad losers jumped ship and went to New Zealand. However, if the number of Kiwis abandoning NZ to come to Australia is any indication, they would probably come rushing back before too long.

john frawley | 22 May 2019  

People give up when they feel hopeless. Labor lost to an opposition that gave the people every reason to vote them out feels. For progressives right now feels like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. Few will actually move to NZ as a result of the election, most will just feel a little better from venting about moving. There are three years until the next election after all.

Andrew Pringle | 22 May 2019  

The people whom our federal government keeps on island prisons on our behalf because they dared to seek refuge by coming here by boat - we must not forget them. Our only planet's climate continues to be subject to humanity’s burning of fossil fuels, especially the wealthier segment of humanity - that’s us in Australia for example. This situation is not going away no matter who our federal government is. I take some heart from the prospect that this re-elected federal government will face a hostile senate if it pushes for a new coal fired power station or does not revisit the issue of imprisonment without charge that has now been going on for well over five years for many innocent asylum seekers.

John McKeon | 25 May 2019  

Ex Labor Senator, John Black has written some interesting analysis of voting patterns related to demographics. One outstanding issue was the degree to which people of faith across the spectrum were frightened by the claimed moral superiority of the labor/green supporters. Perhaps it’s the education system, perhaps the cohort of journalists, but the sentiments of anger, despair and disdain for liberal views expressed by many young Australians must be confronted. Hectoring 51% of Australians will not achieve a reasoned outcome.

Peter | 25 May 2019  

Francis Armstrong, does that mean if you don't work for Adani you don't have a job? Range of other jobs coming... solar, wind farms etc Brenna I was with you. It's so dispiriting, selfish. Hard to follow a PA from Bullshit HQ in Canberra.

NOLA RANDALL | 25 May 2019  

Poor poor Brenna. Nobody loves you. But do you know that thousands of people did vote like they couldn’t find stable work, they were the miners and potential workers in the top half of Queensland who appreciate your tears but would rather a job. You suggest that we have voted in division and hatred, the only hate I saw was from Bill Shorten consistently railing against the big end of town and the knuckle draggers and cave dwellers ( his terms). Spare me your tears, the people have spoken and let those who want to go to New Zealand do so but remember that Jacinda is only in power through the offices of an opportunist anti immigration party and that her own support is no more than the ALP’s here.

Peter Stokes | 25 May 2019  

I was crying with you Brenna. Maybe for longer because my eyes were spits on Sunday and I couldn't see clearly. I've gone from gutted with this country (not ready to say "my country") to hope that comes from a clear head. Firstly, I long for the day we do away with politics and use AI to enable all of us to vote on legislation that is drafted by people who are voted in on merit with no political affiliation. My local MP continues not to represent me as has been the case for 30 years. The system is corrupt and broken. I also favour making voting optional. The disaffected who turn to One Nation and Palmer may just stay home and rip the scab off a tinny. The renewable train is not going to stop. The government lied about how good the economy is and the truth will hurt. Shorten was not liked. Business want emission reduction. Just three more years but for some of the groups you identified, that could well turn out to be a lifetime.

Caroline Lake | 25 May 2019  

Brenda Labor just did not have a clear policy or solution to variations in climate conditions. there is so much conflicting science that it needs to come up with a proper program not just slogans. They have just insulted the intelligence of many Australians

BERNARD TRESTON | 25 May 2019  

I love the title of your article, Brenna. A lot of us when we get dispirited because of events such as the 2019 Australian federal election feel that going to NZ to live would be far more preferable. The grass in NZ has seemed more preferable there than it has in Oz for some time. I consider that the election result was a betrayal of young people and the generations who will succeed them. During the ABC Drum TV program after the election results showed a decisive victory to the LNP Coalition, Stan Grant made an important point by reminding viewers that because of Australians of goodwill, many positive political changes have actually been achieved during the terms of conservative LNP Coalition and ALP governments. Some examples are the successful 1967 referendum to recognise Aboriginal Australians as citizens, the defeat of the White Australia policy, the support for the South African anti apartheid movement, the opposition to the unnecessary and immoral US war against the peoples of Indochina, the support for a UN peacekeeping force to go to East Timor in 1999 to expel the mass murdering Indonesian military and the official acceptance of marriage equality. I think that we can fight back to ensure that we obtain effective programs to deal with pollution, social justice and human rights. I for one will join school students at the next rally to demand action on climate change.

Andrew (Andy) Alcock | 26 May 2019  

Yes stay and fight, but don't be fooled by left wing lies . Take for example when we showed compassion to refugees needing medical treatment, by passing a law , Only one person came to Australia! Where are the thousand we were told would flock here. Huh? A newzealander , one of many who migrated here told me as a mechanic he gets $400 a week more here doing The same job! Leftie Utopia does not exist, but New Zealand is a beautiful country, but check the dole before you go....

Adrian Harris | 27 May 2019  

We were in Greece,having prepolled before we left. We assumed a Labor victory given the horrific record of the LNP government. We were horrified to have our son txt us when we were in Athens saying dont come home we are f....! We were stunned! By the way there was NO mention on CNN BBC ( the Brits have enough issued at home anyway) or other satelite/cable services we could access overseas about the election. Australia does not figure overseas. Ho hum! No we wont flee over the ' ditch', tempting as it would be.

Gavin | 28 May 2019  

Andy, The 1967 referendum did not “recognise Aboriginal Australians as citizens”. This is just one of the myths that are regularly repeated about that referendum; viz, that it got them counted in the census or gave them the vote. Aborigines became citizens in 1949 along with all other Australians. Prior to that, they, like all other Australians, were British subjects. The 1967 referendum gave the Commonwealth, rather than the states, the power to make laws regarding Aborigines and removed the section under which they were not counted for the purposes of allocating seats in the House of Representatives. Paradoxically, this section prevented states like Queensland, in which Aborigines did not have the vote, from getting more seats and states like Victoria, in which they did have the vote, from getting fewer.

Chris Curtis | 29 May 2019  

Brenna, you and all your followers need to have HOPE! Just because the party of your choice did not get in, give others with different viewpoints RESPECT not derision! Probably the new Govt will do well. Tolerance -v- intolerance. We used to be a country of 'a fair go'. I am a 5th generation, older Aussie and it is hurtful when you denigrate our Aussie people simply because they see things differently. I trust the new Govt will try and do its best for ALL Australians.

Pauline Masters | 06 June 2019  

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