“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” ―Brennan Manning
Lew joined the ALP while still a post-graduate at University of Queensland. In 1975 he was the ALP candidate for the federal seat of Moreton. When the Dismissal occurred, we had four weeks to run the campaign. Lew’s picture was on signs everywhere; he looked very fine and was indeed a good candidate. The Courier Mail article below shows him close to the centre of the action.
Lew wanted to be Minster for Science. Whitlam promised him the portfolio if he won Moreton. But it was an unwinnable seat at the best of times, and the Dismissal Election was one of the worst times to be a candidate. Lew was on the dole, probably the only candidate who wasn’t rich and well connected, even in the ALP, where trade unionists were regularly nominated for seats as trade-offs.
Intellectuals were frowned upon in the ALP in the 70s. Lew used to tell me to shut my mouth, especially if we had to pick up a stack of leaflets from one of the union heavies. At ALP fundraisers I learned to drink beer and sit around on plastic chairs, remembering to keep my opinions to myself. I served an ornamental purpose; as Lew’s political mentor Alderman Bill Burton put it: “She’ll make a good Member’s Wife”. He also hinted at the possibility of giving me the City Organist position. I knew that would never happen. It was hard enough for me to be offered any chances to perform, as by then I was persona non grata in the organist world.
Getting the Nomination for Moreton was not easy. First Lew had to get endorsements from power brokers in the Party, like the Council Aldermen. He had to win approval from various faction leaders, and convince party heavies that although his hair was long, he wasn’t a ‘poofta’.
I was pregnant with our first child in 1974, while these machinations took place. Several crises occurred during this year, and more blog posts will be needed to describe them. What stands out in my memory is sitting in bed in the hospital after our daughter was born, crying because nobody came, not Lew, not even my mother. I thought he had been in a car accident. How else could he miss this event, the most important I had ever experienced in my 23 years?
When he finally turned up there wasn’t a hint of regret in his manner. He was elated. He had been at the meeting before the meeting where the plebiscite would be announced. To get the Nomination, he would need to contest an internal Party poll. The FDE meeting at Yeronga took precedence over everything, even the birth of our first child, with whom I had so much trouble bonding, and who carries the scars to this day.
Our life around the time of these two elections, 1975 and 1977, would feature chaos far worse than I could imagine. But somehow, by the time the second election occurred, I was pregnant with our son.
Below is Lew’s campaign leaflet from 1977.
It was during these years that I realized Lew was the most passionately driven man in the world.
He was obsessed with the need to become powerful enough to do something about the Homes. Ironically, as the flipside of the election leaflet shows (below), he could not find the words to include the Homes in the brief bio. Would he had won more votes if people knew he had been in Homes? He must have thought it would kill any chance he had.