When good men do something

Once upon a time I was a mouse. Head down, bum up, working my butt of to get a pharmacy degree which thanks to Gough Whitlam was within my reach

Today I was doing the big clean up and came across this newspaper clip

The Sun Lynette Lindsay Feb 8 1977

Lynette Lindsay – student

I remember the 8th of February 1977 at Central Station when the photographer approached me wanting a photograph and a grab for The Sun newspaper and I nearly had a heart attack. OMG should I do this. What I am going to say.  But I bit the bullet and I did it and said something ( in hindsight not very supportive of the man who got me an education) then for another 30 years I said nothing.

What I found was that not much gets done when you say nothing.  Edmund Burke famously said ‘evil triumphs when good men do nothing”. These days its known as the bystander phenomenon.

Agriculture traditionally has applauded the heads down, bum up approach and sadly the world has moved on without us.

These days I say a lot when I think it is important to say something and DO something. In 1977 I was catching the 4.24pm train from Central to Kiama. You needed to get there very early to get a seat because the train only had four carriages and almost 40 years later catching the same train you needed to get there even earlier because that same train still only had four carriages. But these days I believe everyone can make a difference if we use the skills sets we have wisely and smartly.

In those 40 years I have learnt a lot. I have learnt bystanders are very important people. They can either watch the world go by or they can get actively involved in defining what the world looks like.

In October 2014 the 4.24pm had 4 carriages. In November 2014 the 4.24pm has 8 carriages. This is a story in part about the power of twitter but most importantly its a story about deciding what you want your world to look like and recognising sometimes its up to you to not only envision it, you have to paint it, frame it, hang it and invite people to see it and celebrate it

Who did I tweet. Some-one who could and did make a difference. Extract from Hansard



Tuesday 21 October 2014


New South Wales Legislative Assembly

Mr GARETH WARD (Kiama) [9.25 p.m.]: I take this opportunity to congratulate my friend the member for Drummoyne on his elevation to Parliamentary Secretary. My electorate of Kiama is the most beautiful in the State. As a life-long resident, the reason I stood for Parliament was to do something for the community I grew up in. Whilst I may be a member of a political party, my first and foremost commitment will always be to my electorate and my home. It is for this reason that I bring to the House the case for improved public transport. The 4.24 p.m. Central to Kiama service makes a sardine can look spacious. While I appreciate that there will be fluctuations in demand for various services, I have never had such a consistent stream of complaints as I have with this service.
In dutifully representing my constituents, I have faithfully referred all complaints to Transport for NSW and the Minister. The response I have received from the department is simply inadequate. In language that would make Sir Humphrey Appleby blush, I am told that Transport for NSW is “monitoring” the situation. Is it really? Has the department monitored people having to stand for uncomfortable distances on a daily basis? Is it monitoring customer frustrations as calls for change are made without any reply? Is it sympathetic to the cause of commuters or is the talk of delivering a timetable with commuters in mind rich on rhetoric and thin on substance?
Lynne Strong is a woman from my electorate who rarely needs introduction, but for the benefit of the House Lynne is a cutting edge dairy farmer from Jamberoo. Lynne frequently has business in Sydney and likes to utilise our train system to avoid driving to Sydney. In Twitter exchanges with Lynne earlier in the year I saw photos of crowded trains with passengers jammed in, with many standing the entire distance from Sydney to Wollongong. Having caught this train myself, as late as Friday, I am also aware of the problems associated with this service. After meeting with Lynne and other frustrated commuters, I decided to petition the Government in order to make it clear that this is a situation I will no longer tolerate. In order to make my point I have been tabling a page a day in the House in order to continually remind Transport for NSW of this problem.
I place the House and the Government on notice. This petition will continue to be run until this problem is fixed. I will not accept obfuscation and bureaucratic fob-jobs as acceptable responses to my constituents’ concerns. What is clear is that there will be no shortage of signatures to fill the pages I will present to the House. And if I have to fight the Government, of which I am a part, that is exactly what I will do. Make no mistake: These words are strong but also deliberate. They are strong because I came to this Parliament to be my community’s voice on issues of importance to us; and they are deliberate because I have also experienced the problems so many of my constituents have experienced.
I am grateful that so many public transport fights have yielded success in the past. Since becoming the local member of Parliament, the South Coast line now has 125 new express services. The timetable has been changed to speed up Labor’s slowed services to ensure that commuters save more than an hour a week because of changes to the timetable. The Government is presently constructing a brand new station at Shellharbour Junction. We have secured station upgrades at Albion Park and Gerringong, and new commuter car parks at Kiama and Oak Flats. We now have an electronic ticketing system—a system that Labor spent $127 million on attempting to introduce without a single ticket sold. We now have quiet carriages and more police on the line. I trust the House does not think that these changes have not come without my gratitude.
But the most basic fact remains: If you purchase a ticket you should expect a seat, and the 4.24 p.m. Central to Kiama service is over-subscribed. I call on the Government and my friend the Minister to listen to these concerns and make the necessary changes our community demands. In the past I have brought many petitions to this place. One petition related to positron emission tomography [PET] scanners at Wollongong Hospital. All members in the Illawarra, both Liberal and Labor, got together to petition the Government for that change—and we fought and won. Another petition related to aeromedical services. When there was a proposal from Ernst and Young based on a submission requested from the Government we faced the possibility of losing this important aeromedical service for our community. Again we fought and won that valuable fight. As someone who is passionate about the community I grew up in and who wants to make it a better place, one of the best things I can do is to ensure that this House is a vehicle to facilitate the concerns and express the views of my local community.
At village visits and community meetings and in my electorate office, I have spoken to concerned commuters who just want to have the service that they deserve. I am at my wit’s end. For that reason, I use this opportunity in the House today to do what any good local member should do, regardless of who is in government and any loyalties or allegiances involved. My first and foremost allegiance and loyalty will be to the people who put me in Parliament, that is, my constituents. Today I send this Parliament a message that better commuter and transport services are required. The 4.24 p.m. service is inadequate. I call on the Government to make the necessary changes so that commuters do not have to stand on trains from Wollongong and Central and people have a comfortable journey on longer distances. I thank the Government for the changes it has made but I make it very clear that this change is important to me and my community and I expect this change to be delivered.

A few words from Margaret Heffernan to take away

We all enjoy so many freedoms today, hard-won freedoms: the freedom to write and publish without fear of censorship, a freedom to vote, which women in particular had to fight so hard for; the freedom for people of different ethnicities and cultures and sexual orientation to live the way that they want. But freedom doesn’t exist if you don’t use it.

 I’m going to take on the naysayers, because they’ll make my argument better and stronger. I can collaborate with my opponents to become better at what I do. These are people of immense persistence, incredible patience, and an absolute determination not to be blind and not to be silent.

We make ourselves powerless when we choose not to know. But we give ourselves hope when we insist on looking.

Like Lear, we can learn to see better, not just because our brain changes but because we do. As all wisdom does, seeing starts with simple questions: What could I know, should I know, that I don’t know? Just what am I missing here?

See great Ted Talk here by Margaret Heffernan (ht Julie I)

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

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