Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
The Power of Ones
Movie Blue: Win-Win for Critics
Hardie Boss Takes 60 Percent Rise
Eisteddfod Win: Your Rock At Work
Airline Crashes Into Paypackets
Labor Council of NSW
Penrith is about footy, flannies and ugh boots - just ask anyone from the inner city.
Linda Everingham spent a decade fighting bogan branding. The last thing she expected when she returned home, was to hear it recycled, repeatedly, by her elected representative.
Everingham winced when MP, Jackie Kelly, presented the Prime Minister with a black t-shirt inscribed "Penriff".
"Pram city" was a Kellyism the single mother of two could live with but not her MP's assertion that Penrith people didn't give a rats about university education.
"It's my biggest regret, not going to uni," Everingham said. "If my son or daughter showed any interest, at all, I would do everything to get them there.'
It was those kids - soccer nut Jarrod, 6, and budding ballerina, Alana, 5, that transformed the local MP from a mild irritation to an inspiration.
And it was WorkChoices that did the trick.
The Nepean Hospital emergency department admin clerk, relies on penalty rates to keep her children fed and clothed.
"They cost big," she explained. "I have really struggled this year, especially with the price of petrol.
"If it wasn't for penalty rates I don't know if they could still play sport or do their dancing. Apparently, those things are luxuries for my kids."
Last year, when the ACTU organised a Sky Channel hook-up to protest the WorkChoices assault on living standards, Everingham rocked up to the Penrith RSL with her sister, Jo Jacobson.
She calls Jo her "rock", the steady one, the childcare worker, who is always there to fall back on.
Her kids, and Jo's two-year-old, Isabella, are growing up together.
The mums are so worried about the Kelly gang's recipe for their futures that they decided to do something about it.
Everingham and Jacobson joined the Lindsay Campaign Committee, dedicated to pushing their MP towards a new career.
In the space of seven months it has grown to around 60 active participants and spawned offshoots under Futures For Our Kids, Working Families and Retirees banners.
The Lindsay committee has grabbed headlines in the local press for efforts around WorkChoices, education and other local concerns.
It has put the acid on politicians, winning personal assurances from senior state government Minister John Della Bosca.
Members hoped to draw 500 people to a Union Picnic Day on Queens Birthday Weekend and were encouraged when more than 800 turned up.
They included Penrith halfback, Craig Gower - who talked about the need to support the campaign - and his wife, the Footy Show's Lady Luck.
Everingham has also been charged with getting up a sub-group at Nepean Hospital, the biggest workplace in the electorate, accounting for something like 3400 employees.
Over coffee, in Penrith's High Street, she confessed to some doubts.
"A lot of people still think they will be safe but, really, their protections are quite fragile and I don't know how to get that across," she said.
"The hospital is a good place to work, especially for parents. If there's something I need to go to at school, I can usually fit it in.
"But, if the Liberals win the next state election, they have already said they will hand control over to Canberra."
For the sisters, it's partly about reclaiming the Penrith they grew up in, or at least the values they learned there.
Linda and Jo spent their childhood in Gascoigne St before Glenmore Park, and its McMansions, were even a gleam in a developer's eye.
"It was a good place to grow up, a safe place and we felt we had a future," she said. "It's not the same now, there won't be any safety net for our kids.
"It's not just about IR, this is about what is happening to our society because these people are changing the whole basis of what it means to be Australian."
In her 20s, she and a girlfriend, spent three weeks driving across Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and California.
She calls it her Thelma and Louise period.
"It was beautiful, great fun, but I don't want my kids growing up in an American-style society," Everingham says.
"Back then, I wasn't going to get married or have children but I met a local boy and had a couple of kids. When you have children you need your family around, so here we are.
"It's good to be back home but if we work together we can make it even better. That's what I learned growing up here."
Everingham came from a family that talked politics, Labour politics, as Penrith families traditionally did.
She remembers heartache and joy, at Gascoigne St, over events like The Dismissal and Bob Hawke's election.
But she has never joined a political party and doesn't intend to, which spikes speculation from some qaurters, that she might be the woman to go toe to toe with Queensland-raised solicitor, Kelly.
"Imagine going to Canberra," Everingham says, "I would never see my kids then. I will support the right person but it won't be me and that's for sure."
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online