Loss of gen­uine class act a real shame for us all

Mercury (Hobart) - - TALKING POINT - Lam­bie un­afraid to show her face, says The Aus­tralian’s

Caro­line Over­ing­ton

JACQUI Lam­bie is get­ting the chop, and that is a great shame for the par­lia­ment.

Lam­bie is a class act. A work­ing class act.

Any old par­lia­ment could turn up a Mal­colm Turn­bull or a Tony Ab­bott or a Julie Bishop or a Bill Shorten. They all went to the right schools. They all know the right peo­ple.

They’ve all had the pol­ish ap­plied to their man­ners, and their mien.

But surely only the Aus­tralian sys­tem could turn up a Jacqui Lam­bie, and that makes our sys­tem the great­est in the world.

Lam­bie was elected to the Se­nate, this time around, by sheer force. She wanted it, she worked for it, she showed her face — her grit, her anger, that set jaw — to the Tas­ma­nian peo­ple, and they liked what they saw.

Lam­bie is not con­nected. She doesn’t know any of the right peo­ple. She spent the first four of her par­lia­men­tary pay cheques pay­ing off old credit card debt.

Lam­bie isn’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea. She isn’t pol­ished. But what is pol­ish? It’s just the ve­neer they whack on you in good homes and good schools, of which she was de­nied the ben­e­fit, through no fault of her own.

Lam­bie was strug­gle street. A high school dropout who joined the Army and raised her ba­bies as a sin­gle mum. Who got in­jured and had to fight for com­pen­sa­tion. Who had been sin­gle for a decade when she was elected, and went on ra­dio and talked about how she wanted a man with a “wad of cash” and a “pack­age be­tween his legs”.

She has also talked about her ad­dic­tion to Bo­tox. About how one of her kids had a drug prob­lem. How, at her low­est point, she con­tem­plated sui­cide.

God for­bid any­one should be hon­est about their true feel­ings, and their per­sonal fail­ings. The work­ing class is sup­posed to hide their shame.

And yet, every now and then, Lam­bie would say some­thing that made com­plete and to­tal sense.

Why do we put our vet­er­ans through an ag­o­nis­ing series of bu­reau­cratic hoops be­fore they can get as­sis­tance for their suf­fer­ing? Why do we let them kill them­selves in alarm­ing num­bers?

Why are lit­tle girls in Aus­tralian pri­mary schools in Syd­ney’s west and on the Bris­bane fringe forced to wear the veil as part of their school uni­form?

Why have we al­lowed our mag­nif­i­cent pub­lic health ser­vice — Medi­care, once the envy of the world — to be­come so at­ro­phied? So much so that the kind of health care you get, es­pe­cially for life­sav­ing can­cer treat­ment, now de­pends on how much money you have, and the state in which you live?

Since when was that the Aus­tralian way?

You don’t have to agree with every word, and some of Lam­bie’s ideas — elec­tronic tag­ging of refugees, for ex­am­ple — were a bit mad.

But when she speaks, it’s raw, and it’s heart­felt, and at least you know she be­lieves it. With the rest of them, you can never quite be sure. Reprinted with per­mis­sion of

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