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Day 20: New Hope

Mike Symon looks remarkably relaxed. It’s 6pm and the Labor member for Deakin is sitting on stage in the New Hope Baptist Church, in Blackburn North. At the mid-point in the election campaign, there is just the faintest whiff of new hope for the Labor Party.

Kevin Rudd is back in the news. Yesterday afternoon, he followed up his interview with Phillip Adams the night before and answered the call from Julia Gillard to step into the campaign. The vanquished and the victor will appear in public together today. After a disastrous start to their campaign, Labor is finally showing some unity of purpose.

The Labor Party has also had some success in getting back on track with the issues. Even though Wayne Swan was caught out yesterday by a question about interest on government borrowings, there has been a sense these past two days that the Labor campaign is, pardon the expression, moving forward. Bread and butter issues such as assistance to families, superannuation and health are getting media attention. [Read more…]


Day 19: Return To Norwood

Norwood Secondary College sits amongst acres of residential housing along Mullum Mullum Road, not far from the creek of the same name. This is Ringwood, just up the road from the giant Eastland shopping complex, and the centre of the electorate of Deakin, the Melbourne electorate held by the slender margin of 1.4% by the Labor Party’s Mike Symon.

It’s familiar territory for me. I taught here over twenty years ago. Returning today, I wonder whether the oval still floods when it rains. I note the familiar buildings, some now with assorted improvements and extensions. Students at recess mingle in groups, some sitting on the concrete outside the library, others leaning against fences and buildings. The atmosphere is calm and orderly. Norwood was always a “good school”.

A small number of former colleagues still work here. Mick Wilson, a 35-year veteran of the school, jokes that’s he found my unwashed coffee mug in the cupboard above the staffroom sink. Rosemary Homersham greets me a kiss. I scan the staff photo for familiar faces and then chat to a young English teacher who would have been in kindergarten when I was last here. [Read more…]