• Kristin Perissinotto

It's 2021 and I'm embarrassed

Embarrassed to live in a country that has Scott Morrison in charge. Embarrassed about how we'll explain the pandemic to the next generations (then we had three worldwide vaccines and people refused to take them!). I'm embarrassed that so many people in my country treat the Murdoch press as gospel. Embarrassed that anti-lockdown protesters will take to the streets for their own cause, but not for genuine breaches of human rights. Embarrassed that #auspol is trending every day and not for a good reason.

I'm so fucking embarrassed to see how our nation has regressed over the duration of COVID. And when I say this, I point fingers at our governments and our people. The federal government couldn't do the simplest thing that every other Western country in the world was able to do: secure enough vaccines. The Morrison government wouldn't and won't take control nor responsibility for 18 months of outbreaks. And while the government has a lot to answer for, those leading and organising anti-lockdown protests have something to answer for too. They have capitalised on fear and targetted the most vulnerable in our community for their own good.

State borders are more solid than ever, and not just because of restrictions. The 'us vs. them' mentality has only become more ingrained. NSW residents are told the Queensland Premier is the devil. WA is basically its own country at this point. The ACT is far ahead in vaccine numbers, perhaps because of the small population, but maybe because the people who reside there are VIPs. The NT, while safe from COVID, has a low vaccine uptake due to the failures of the Morrison government in engaging First Nations consultation in rollout communications. We're a nation divided: by state, by political lines, and by belief systems.

Our Prime Minister disappears for days, even weeks at a time. And after a leadership spill in the National party some months ago, he leaves Barnaby Joyce in charge. Barnaby Joyce, who has come under immense scrutiny for his behaviour in parliament, who vehemently opposes climate action, who has unresolved sexual harassment charges against him.

I’m embarrassed to live in a country that lagged behind significant portions of the world in appointing the first woman as Prime Minister. I’m even more embarrassed at how we treated her, how the next Prime Minister, Tony Abbott treated her. I’m embarrassed that we don’t seem to have gained much ground since her days in parliament. The government continues to protect parliamentary staff and representatives with sexual assault and harassment charges against them.

I’m embarrassed to remember the significant Stop the Boats campaign being received so well by Australians, and to think we still have refugees locked up in prisons onshore and off, despite having committed no crime. I’m embarrassed that our criminal age of responsibility in Queensland is just 10 years old. I’m embarrassed that the people who will take to the streets and flout public health directives will not march in solidarity with First Nations Australians. I’m embarrassed that those same people proudly make Nazi gestures in the street.

I’m embarrassed that our conservative government is still able to convince their voters that they are the right choice, that they care, that they’re good for the economy. The only person the Prime Minister is good for is himself. His goal is to protect his ego, his image, and dodge the blame. How can I not be embarrassed that our country is led by a man who was at the front of the Stop the Boats campaign, who flees the country and avoids the press at the first sign of controversy, who has ignored women, protected corrupt men, and failed at the most important job he’ll do in his term?

It’s impossible not to feel embarrassment, despair, and anger when looking around at what’s going on in the country. The only thing we can do is mobilise. Whether it’s from our homes, online, at family lunches, or at the voting booth, we must push for progress. We need to have the conversations. We need to enact change. And we need to do it now.