Darcy Drakes 2017 + 19

The Postal Plebiscite 

I want to talk about this postal plebiscite but first I have to talk about the voting age.

I think the voting age should to be lowered to 16. Now hear me out, I think it would be a good idea to make voting optional from the age of 16 and kept compulsory for adults 18 and over. This would give the young people of Australia a much bigger voice and ability to have a stance on the political world and the incredibly important decisions facing our country. It's vitally important that voting remains compulsory for adults to give a more even and equal result in any elections or dreaded plebiscites. If voting was optional for Australians aged 16 and 17 then those passionate and eager to be involved in the decisions of the scary world of politics have a fighting chance. If the voting age was lowered but remained compulsory I have no doubt many young people will see it as a chore and will not want to be pressured to participate. The teenagers who do want to vote will have to enroll and go to a polling booth and put in the extra effort to be heard. Those voting will be passionate and eager to do so and won't waste their vote on attempting to elect a drawing of a dick as our country's leading government party. It is the young people who have to live longer with the decisions our government are currently making. I think my life is more affected in the long-term by decisions being made now on things like marriage equality and education funding compared to someone from the baby boomer population having finished a free higher education and settled into an affordable home. Having said that all the gorgeous baby boomers supporting my plight, I am beyond appreciative for them being the voice I don't have.

Back to the topic at hand, it is times like these where I long for an ability to have a say. The long and strenuous debate on marriage equality has reached a ridiculous level after thinking it couldn't get much worse. After dodging a plebiscite our government has come up with a possibly worse "solution" to marriage equality. This postal and optional "plebiscite" (see opinion poll) is not something we've asked for. It is not something we want, something we need, or something that can help us, but unless it is overruled by the High Court, it is going ahead. Some are calling for a boycott but I urge you not to throw away your precious votes. As someone deprived of a voice I beg you to use yours and make sure you are enrolled to vote. If they want a postal plebiscite we'll give them one they'll never forget and drown them in YES.

A final word to my fellow members of the LGBTI+ community, there is a wave of hate headed our way with the No Campaign going ahead and I've unfortunately already started seeing increased levels of bigotry around the media. I encourage you all to not take any of it to heart and stay strong and keep fighting against homophobia.

If you've read this far I'm impressed, so please, I urge my older friends and family to vote Yes. Please spread the message.

Much love Darcy xx

Tram 86

Liza’s right sock was giving her the shits, sliding down under her foot in her shoe as she walked to the tram stop. There were no seats at the Bell Street one so she wouldn’t be able to fix it until the tram got there, which she could almost guarantee wouldn’t be on time. She didn’t know why it was only ever the right one, probably because she walked funny or something; she only hoped her stupid hobble wasn’t noticeable to the other commuters. The tram rattled down Plenty Road, already filled with city-goers coming home from their nice dinners. Soon they’d be joined by Liza and a couple of people from the local pub who’d called in an early night.

Saturday night was usually busy but it was still packed when Liza finished her shift, she felt sorry for the poor new girl who’d be manning the bar. That girl could make a mean cocktail but she was pretty young and didn’t look like she was used to pissed middle-aged men slobbering over her while she was trying to do her job. Liza meanwhile had nailed her friendly smile and giggle, politely convincing them she was ‘very very busy right now’; hiding the look in her eyes that was telling them to piss off. She was only leaving early tonight because she’d been nearly falling asleep at the bar and Ryan had told her to go home. Lucky he was a nice guy or she didn’t think she could bear to continue working there. There were many times when he’d intervened when a customer had gotten a bit too friendly, luckily for her.

 

 

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“Change for durries?” The man stalked up and down the first three carriages, staggering as the train shuttled around the corners. “Got any change?” He held his hand out to each and every passenger, red eyes peering out from under his Richmond beanie, Liza could see his feet shuffling towards the heavy doors that lead to her carriage, only stopping to pester the high school kids sitting in the priority seats. Most people just ignored him, the school kids threw some rubbish or something at him but he kept on his mission, sliding open the carriage doors.

 

 

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Liza stepped into the tram and sat down across from a young girl wearing a headscarf who was talking very loudly on the phone. Couldn’t understand a word she was saying but it seemed like she was getting some very good news. It was almost annoying how happy she was; she looked like one of those perfect people from a perfect nuclear family with a perfect garden and a white picket fence. Her ironed, deep blue scarf complemented her smooth chocolate skin and framed her smiling face; the only signs of wear were the light creases that ran from the sides of her nose to the corners of her mouth. Liza touched her hand to her own face and frowned; she looked down only to see the logo on the girl’s backpack Melbourne University, so she was either rich or a genius then too? Maybe both. Whatever, Liza didn’t bother herself with people like that; she knew she worked harder than they could ever understand anyway.

The tram rocked to a stop and the doors creaked open, letting in the warm air. The smell of cigarettes and booze was carried in by a group of young men; their Southern Cross tattoos on display with their shorts and singlet combos. The last one stumbled on, flipping off the driver who’d asked him to touch on, glazed eyes staring straight into the carriage. Liza could feel the whole tram looking at him as he mumbled something that could’ve been ‘piss off’ but the words seemed like an effort. His red eyes moved around the tram and most passengers avoided meeting them, his gaze stopped on the young girl in the headscarf. She had to be the only person who hadn’t noticed him, her back facing him she kept happily chatting into her phone. Eyes still on the girl the man wandered over to his mates, gripping the pole so he could stand, his feet spread and planted firmly on the ground. “For fucks sake”, gesturing at the girl he muttered to his mates, the kind of stage whisper where everybody on the tram knew he wanted to be heard.

 

 

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Liza stared at her phone, doing her best to avoid eye contact with the man but soon his hand was under her nose. “Got any change?” She politely smiled and shook her head, trying not to grimace at the smell of dope wafting off his fingers; marijuana had always made her feel sick. She watched the ground, waiting for the shuffling of his feet to start up and move on but he stayed put. After a few moments, Liza lifted her head to meet his gaze. “Sorry, I don’t carry cash.” Again, she waited for him to move on, staring into his blank face, trying to read it. He watched her as she shifted awkwardly, bringing her knees together and pulling her bag into her lap; her eyes wandered around, not knowing where to look. “You’re pretty”, he slurred.

 

 

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“She should go back to her own fuckin’ country.” One of the guy’s mates grabbed him by the arm and said something into his ear. “Piss off. She can’t fuckin’ understand me anyway.” He shrugged him off and returned his glare to the young girl. She shifted slightly in her seat, cleared her throat and continued chirping into her phone, her face pulled into a smile. As the tram rocked on, the man’s gaze remained fixed on the girl, occasionally grumbling to himself about Muslims and terrorists. The tram slowly emptied as the night got darker and emptier, main roads of restaurants and shops turning to small suburbs and parkland. One of the man’s mates pushed the stop button and the tram pulled up to a tram stop, the ones who were sitting all stood up and crowded around the middle doors. The young girl – finally finished with her phone call – let out a huge breath, as if she’d been holding it since she’d stopped talking. “You coming Jackson?” One of the men called to guy who’d been watching the young girl. “Nah, nah, I’m gonna go to Bundoora.” His still red eyes remained trained on the girl; he wobbled on the spot as if the tram was still moving. “Alright then.” The man who’d spoken quickly glanced from his friend to the young girl, meeting her eyes for a second before getting off the tram. The girl looked at her feet as the tram lurched forward, the man called Jackson took a few steps closer to the girl but remained silent. He looked around the tram glaring at the few passengers left and stood hovering behind the girl.

 

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“Sorry?” Liza froze in her seat. The man reached out his grubby hand and touched it to the side of her face. She squeezed her eyes shut as her hands began to shake, she couldn’t move. The man moved to sit down next to her, staring at the side of her face, he placed his hand on her knee. Liza clutched her bag, trying to stop her shaking; she opened her eyes and looked at the woman sitting opposite her. She focused on the woman; her white-blonde hair was pulled back into a tight bun, her hoop earrings glinted in the morning sun and her glasses had little diamantes in the corners. They locked eyes; the man’s hand was pushing under her bag starting to travel up her leg, Liza’s eyes started to well up. She stared at the woman, waiting for her to do something but the woman looked back down at her book. Liza’s eyes searched the train carriage; everybody seemed to look away from her. Nobody spoke or moved except for the man beside her, his breath felt hot on her cheek.

The train shuddered to a stop and Liza stood up, almost running out onto the carriage. She leant against the rough brick of the station and tears started to flow down her cheeks. She didn’t know this station, it wasn’t hers, she was far from where she was meant to be but she didn’t care. She wiped the tears from her eyes and picked up the phone, she was going to be late to work.

 

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“Fuckin’ terrorist… talkin’ on the phone… plant a bomb… fuck off back to fuckin’ Iran.” The silence of the tram was occasionally interjected by Jackson’s low mutter. Liza pretended to look at her phone, avoiding looking at him standing across from her. She watched as the young girl’s light-coloured jeans grew dark splotches as tears dropped from her eyes. A few minutes passed and Jackson started up his murmur again – something about jobs this time – but eventually his slurred speech just turned to white noise. The young girl looked up at the blank faces of the tram, her wet eyes trailing down to meet Liza’s. The two girls stared at each other for what seemed like forever, searching for something; then Liza dropped her eyes, pretending to push the buttons on her phone.

 Two stops from the end of the line now, the girl pressed the stop button. Shifting her backpack onto one shoulder, she pulled herself to her feet, stumbling slightly with the swaying of the tram. “Thank you”, she smiled at the driver as she dutifully touched off her myki and stepped off the tram into the warm night. Liza watched Jackson follow her with his eyes, then with his feet as he silently stepped off the tram and into Bundoora Park.

Liza sat frozen, glued to her seat; the only sound the humming of the tram and the breathing of the people behind her. The tram rattled on.