After working on Sunday I've been on annual leave, so I can focus on the campaign.
I had a late start on Monday, after working until 1am and getting home at around 3, and then headed to Aldi in Mooroopna. Last time I was there, I had to leave at 3pm to take Mum to an appointment, so this time I arrived at around 2pm and stayed until the sun set - I would have stayed longer but the exterior lights weren't working. I figured that lurking in the dark is more likely to scare people, rather than garner votes or nomination signatures!
On Tuesday I was outside IGA in Tatura from 8:30am until dark. Several people that I'd chatted to in Mooroopna the day before came past and Ruth Johnson who has been collecting signatures for me happened to stop by also.
When I got home from Tatura, I had messages on Facebook about another candidate forum and from WIN News wanting an interview, so Wednesday began with a phone call with journalist Stephanie Atkins who organised to come and see me outside IGA in Nagambie later in the day.
When I arrived at IGA a short time later, one of my best mates was there with her two boys. Her husband is in the Army and was posted to Brisbane last year; she was in Victoria for a few days to visit friends and family. It was a brief visit, but great to catch up.
After I'd been handing out flyers, chatting and collecting signatures for a couple of hours, a young boy with his mum and grandfather came out of the supermarket. There was a little bit of commotion as the boy was sick, right in the middle of the footpath.
I went in to the shop and got two 1.5lt bottles of water, thinking he could sip from one and we'd use the other to wash away the vomit. When I came out, Stephanie Atkins had arrived and her cameraman was setting up and the grandfather had found a bucket of water to clear the pathway.
So I greeted the news crew and made sure the boy had his water, and then did the interview as a crowd gathered. The cameraman (I can't think of his name, possibly Matt or Mark?) asked one of those watching if she had signed my nomination form, she said "no", he said "go on then" so he could film it, I said "no pressure", not wanting anyone to feel forced into signing, but apparently she liked what I'd said on camera and was happy to sign.
So she signed and we had a chat about some of the issues I'd raised whilst the cameraman filmed us. Then I was asked to walk along the footpath three times, for a wide shot, a close up and a shot from ground level - then the WIN News team left. Afterwards, the young bloke was still quite pale, but feeling better and his Mum and I got to chat about my thoughts on health and education as the crow dispersed and everything went back to normal. It was quite interesting to see how a news item is created.
I left Nagambie at 5:30 as I'd been told that there was a forum on Mental Health in Benalla, beginning at 6:30. Whilst it was quite Benalla-focused, it was quite good to hear from the Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley and those that run local services and hear the audience's questions - many of which were relevant to my own work and to the people of Murray. Interestingly, whilst service providers do need more funding, most initiatives suggested by the community would cost next-to nothing.
I had to take Mum to an appointment on Thursday morning and decided to spend the afternoon in Numurkah as the Numurkah Leader had run a story the day before about my needing signatures to nominate. I was outside Brereton's Bakery from 1pm until close and got to sample one of their Bunbartha Black Angus pies - it was impressive.
Friday was spent in Nathalia, outside the Brereton's Bakery there. My sister and niece came along and we had quite a productive day. They visited; the heritage centre, GRAIN Arts and several other shops, whist I learned more about local issues such as the management of the Barmah forest and the changes to rules surrounding firewood collection in the area.
On Friday evening we attended a candidate's forum held by the Murray Darling Association at the Mercure in Echuca. Water policy isn't my strong suit, I was running late because my car battery decided to start playing up and it turned out the forum began at 6pm, not 6:30 as I'd remembered. It really wasn't my night, apparently my speech "wasn't bad, just weak" but I survived.
We stayed in Echuca overnight, visited the Farmers Market on Saturday morning and set up outside Woolworths at around 10am. It was cold, wet and nobody wanted to stop and talk - not that I blame them. That changed after lunch, the rain had mostly stopped and I got to discuss everything from health and education to abortion, gay marriage and then on to what sounded like Quantum Physics.
I also took the details of a Moama resident who says she never knows who to vote for as the TV news is from Victoria, her husband buys the Herald Sun and she doesn't use the internet. I offered to pass on her name and address to the candidates and ask them to send her some information, she agreed.
At 3:30 we headed for home, via Murchison - my current signature tally is 205 total and 89 that match the electoral roll (that I know of). I need eleven more by midday Thursday.