“They need us” said one of the volunteers in our round of ‘highlights and insights’ at the end of 2 days lobbying in Parliament. There were nods and sounds of agreement around the group; we were all so pleased as well as surprised at how well we had been received in many of the 30+ meetings we had with MPs and their staff. And to have the sense that what we are doing is very important and badly needed was very gratifying.
On our briefing day before the 2 days of lobbying, I said that part of our purpose was to inject the parliament with positivity and hopefulness; and to inoculate it against the destructive “adversarialism” that feeds the trench warfare around climate and energy. It seems we made significant progress with both, and that the parliament was beginning to notice.
Thirty of us had gathered for that briefing day, where we practised our listening skills, studied conservative language and inspired each other with our passion and determination to create the political will for climate solutions. Best of all, we made new connections and built the relationships that would sustain us through the next two days.
Throughout Monday and Tuesday teams formed, briefed, lobbied, debriefed and dispersed in a seemingly seamless process that went like clockwork. Mostly we returned to the café with big smiles and a sense of having achieved something significant. News of some exceptional meetings in which breakthroughs occurred spread quickly around the café.
At the end of Monday most of us assembled at the top of the marble stairs for our round of highlights and insights and heard many powerful and affirming snippets from the day. Then a security guard took our photograph on the marble steps.
One of our objectives was to gauge interest in a “Parliamentary Friends Group on Climate Solutions”. We were heartened to find significant enthusiasm, especially amongst younger and newer MPs. Several times we were told that what we are doing is very important and were urged to keep going. A ‘Friends’ group could be a critical tool in moving the parliament towards bipartisan climate solutions.
On Sunday my hopes for injecting hope and inoculating against ‘adversarialism’ seemed a huge stretch and a touch outrageous. Three days later it looks more than possible. We have been greatly encouraged and now we are inspired to follow through in supporting our MPs with new information and ideas to maintain what we have achieved.
Our next visit to Canberra will be for our third National Conference in September. By then we hope to have several staff members, a higher profile and 60 or more volunteers. One of our challenges is going to be to find a larger base to work from – we are outgrowing the Queens Terrace Café!
Rod Mitchell – National Coordinator