STU­DENT POLITI­CIAN

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE GQ -

Id­ab­bled in pol­i­tics at univer­sity. Noth­ing too se­ri­ous. In fact, noth­ing se­ri­ous at all. Af­ter a stun­ning elec­tion vic­tory to be­come the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of my fel­low firstyear stu­dents at the Law Stu­dents’ So­ci­ety, I used my for­mi­da­ble abil­i­ties to or­gan­ise free bar­be­cues and build grass­roots sup­port. In an his­toric land­slide, I was elected vice-pres­i­dent in charge of ac­tiv­i­ties. An un­blem­ished record of broad-based stu­dent in­tox­i­ca­tion and good times then saw me waltz into the job of Law Stu­dents’ So­ci­ety pres­i­dent the next year. Con­trary to what you may think, I wasn’t in­ter­ested in power. I just had a knack for win­ning low-stakes cam­paigns. This piqued the cu­rios­ity of those who were in­ter­ested in power – Young Lib­er­als and Young La­bor. They ran fierce and bru­tal elec­tions that they saw as train­ing for po­lit­i­cal life. And they won­dered if I could be use­ful. I at­tended a meet­ing for each. I heard philoso­phies, plans and man­i­festos. I was in­vited to con­sider fac­tions I may be­long to, and how they might help later in life. I heard of war chests, elec­tion strate­gies, ca­reer paths and vendet­tas. At each gath­er­ing, I was given a de­tailed roadmap for how their truth would be vic­to­ri­ous. And I left both meet­ings won­der­ing how a bunch of 20-year-olds who knew noth­ing of the world could pos­si­bly know what it needed. Ul­ti­mately, I parted with the over­whelm­ing im­pres­sion that all they cared about was win­ning. I made peace with the fact that pres­i­dent of the Law Stu­dents’ So­ci­ety would be the high­est elected of­fice I’d ever hold. I could do it with­out hav­ing to be­lieve in some­thing that I didn’t know was true. It’s a quirk of history that Josh Fry­den­berg would later hold the po­si­tion – prob­a­bly his most im­por­tant be­fore be­com­ing Aus­tralia’s as­sis­tant trea­surer. Most of the coun­try laments the cur­rent state of pol­i­tics in Aus­tralia (Mal­colm Turnbull cer­tainly has much to do) and, un­der for­mer PM Tony Ab­bott, it was ir­refutable to say that the ‘lead­ers’ went about their busi­ness con­cerned al­most en­tirely with per­pet­u­ally-im­mi­nent elec­tions. The polls told them how they were go­ing (OK, they still do), with poli­cies based on the polls. If nec­es­sary re­form, in­fra­struc­ture or de­ci­sions were deemed un­palat­able to enough peo­ple with enough time on their hands for a phone poll, then it would fall by the way­side. In­stead of a plan we were given nouns – ‘boats’, then ‘jobs’, then sim­ply con­cepts,

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