Friday, 15 June 2012

Julia Gillard, the Bloggers, and the Agenda.

The day started with a helicopter next to me on the M7 but it wasn't actually a helicopter ... it was my blown and smoking tyre. Standing on the side of the road for twenty minutes, forlornly live-tweeting how I really wish I'd learnt how to change a tyre. I didn't know what to do and I felt like an idiot. It was odd, in this instant world of quick-fixes. My husband was back at home with the kids and I'm not with any roadside assistance. Silently cursing God, suddenly a guy called Andrew drives in to my woeful bay and changes my tyre.

Andrew told me that I could have just turned around, walked over to the emergency phone, and the M7 road guys would have come and changed my tyre for me straight away.

                         I didn't notice this phone because I was too busy cursing God. 

Profusely thankful, I offered him money which he declined. I told him I was on my way to meet with Julia Gillard. He looks at me, smiles, and says, "Well maybe Julia can come help you change the tyre."

Then he asked me the second-best question I've ever been asked. "So, do you work for the government?"

It took him about half an hour, in the cold, getting his hands really dirty. I was so grateful, and asked if I could write about him in my blog. He said yes. So, Andrew ... thanks mate. You're the only one that stopped! Everybody on twitter declares the need for more Andrews, in the world.

The traffic was heavy but I made it in time, walked through the gates of Kirribilli House , and met up with a really varied mix of about thirty prominent women online in Australia.

We drank tea and coffee out of dear little cups.

                                     Photo by the gorgeous Kim from All Consuming

But it wasn't about the cups, was it? I'm still not quite sure what it was about ... apparently the PM and her staffers would like to get more of an understanding on female bloggers and online writers. Which is definitely savvy on her part, and a great recognition for women in the world of Australian digital media.

There were no official proceedings, just a cuppa and a chat. The Prime Minister stood and chatted to all of us for over an hour ... about anything. I heard people talking to her about zombies, childcare rebates, Sydney traffic, being a carer of a child with disabilities. She posed for a lot of photos.

I was entirely shy and nervous about meeting her.

 Thank you Mia Freedman for taking this ridiculous photo.

I absolutely fumbled my words .... but didn't want to miss this opportunity. I told her that I saw the West African food crisis firsthand last month, and she told me she had read about me and knew I was the World Vision blogger.

Mum Blogger Eden Riley gives Prime Minister a bag of seeds 

When I asked her about foreign aid, her demeanour changed from relaxed to polished professional in a split second. The PM explained to me the government needs to be careful about where money given abroad actually goes, especially in crisis. She said that she will be talking to other leaders at the G20 Summit about foreign aid in a few days, and that she intends to slowly increase the funding.

I told her how proud I was to see so much good being done in countries like Niger all from using money raised by Australians. I told her about the readers on this blog, spreading the news and raising money and sponsoring children, and the good that can come from social media.

Then I thanked her and wished her luck. She was really very nice, approachable, and human. MUCH nicer in real person than I thought she would be. She seemed ... softer. Her answers were considered and thoughtful. Kerri Sackville asked her how she relaxed, and got into a great conversation about reading in the bath and waterproof kindles. Mrs Woog accidentally called her Julia Roberts, Chrissie Swan asked her if she puts peas in her tuna mornay (she does) ... and Kim spoke to her about what it's like being the mother of a child with special needs.

I've emailed the PM's office since I've been home, with more questions about a dollar-for-dollar matching program for the West Africa Appeal, and the chances of a child sponsorship program with government stakeholders. They've already gotten back to me. I've been in contact with all of the beautiful and smart workers at World Vision. Janet, Joy, Richenda, Adel ... WORD UP HOMEGIRLS. What just happened? I love, LOVE being your sweary renegade tattooed blogger. Love.

On the way home I thought about Andrew going out of his way to help a complete stranger. Andrew would have stopped for anybody, and I was just as inspired meeting him as I was about meeting the Prime Minister of Australia.

PS Computer, one day I will tell you the first-best question ever asked to me in my life. But not today ... it's too rude and I'm pretty sure the PM is going to read my blog today.


1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic opportunity. Got to be inspired by the Andrews of this world. And the Julias.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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