I woke everyone with a celebration that "Today is the last day of walking" repeatedly. Woohoo today is the last day of walking. I was feeling excited about having a break from pounding the pavement, roads, beaches and highways day in, day out.
When we arrived at the Tent Embassy, we were graced with the smoking ceremony. The smoking ceremony is simply placing gum leaves onto a fire and emercing yourself in the smoke from the gum leaves. This ceremony helped me connect with everyone as well as myself. So simple and beautiful. We had a banquet prepared for us as well as some music and story telling. It was also wonderful to have my father join me for this special experience ... thanks Dad! The next day was our day in Parliament House. We had planned to have a peace circle in a prominant place at Parliament House. The police were wanting us to be located in the Protesters paddock, which June was advocating for a more suitable location as we weren't protesting. Anyway the weather was adversive and the peace circle happened in the Queen Lizzy's cafe.
Firstly we met with Senator Claire Moore (Labor senator for Queensland) who has been very supportive of our walk and liaised with the security who had confiscated the 1000+ peace cranes and provided for the "escort" for the message stick. Talk about "insecurity". Claire had organised unescorted access security passes for us so we could enter and exit the Senator and House of Representative offices as we liked for the day. Claire also invited us to use her office as we pleased, but as it turned out we were flat strapped to meet our schedule, but appreciated having somewhere for us to leave our peace cranes etc when we had to leave Parliament House at lunch time. Claire also invited us to have dinner with her at Parliament House on Thursday evening.
We next raced off to Rob Oakeshott's office (independant MP for Port Macquarie). By the time we found his office, we decided to reschedule the appointment. This gave us the opportunity to return to the peace circle and connect with our support team and plan the rest of the day. Then it was off to meet with my MP Shayne Neumann who has supported the walk with photocopying. It was a good opportunity to share the story of the message stick and show him the 1000+ peace cranes we were wanting to present to the Prime Minister.
Then we visited Rob Oakeshott's office again and he provided us with additional information about the nuclear cycle from the international perspective. Our lunch break became a rush to organise our accommodation and drop off gear before our meeting with the Minister for Housing and Minister for Status of Women Tanya Plibersek. June and I both forgot to eat anything, but the adrenaline was pumping to compensate. After waiting 20 minutes in her board room, the meeting had a rocky start because we asked questions that we would have asked Kevin about Uranium Mining, Declaration of Indigenous Rights (which would then make Muckaty a no go) and sustainability. She was only prepared to answer questions about the NPT review and then had a glowing report of how much effort Australia had made to be a positive influence...blah! We then handed over the message stick, the peace cranes and the messages we collected on the walk. After our day at Parliament House, we were invited to return to the Tent Embassy for a cleansing smoking ceremony. Once again this was a powerful process. Helped me feel grounded and to clear my aura of the Parliament House. The next day we had lunch with Senator Scott Ludlum, Felicity Hill and some WILPF women. Scotts office assisted the walk with phone communication and networking with anti nuclear and peace organisations in Qld, NSW and ACT. Scott managed to slip in a meal whilst asking us lots of questions about the walk and the responses from the people we had met enroute, before he was meeting the media to discuss the leakage of the Ranger tailings dam in the Kakadu National Park. We then took the opportunity to experience question time where the House of Representatives were debating (if that's what it's called) the Mining Super Tax. We had the opportunity to see Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swann, Peter Garrett, Martin Furguson, Greg Combet as well as some other MPs who refused to meet us. What does one have to do to meet with Federal MPs who make the key decisions? We are planning to contact Kevin and Waynes electorate office to arrange a time to meet with these MP's to ensure that they hear the voices of the women who live and work in their electorates. I had hoped that once the walk arrived in Canberra Kevin would announce that there would be world peace (including aboriginal people), at least a carbon neutral country and that the remainder of Australias uranium deposits would stay in the ground....guess we need to keep on, keeping on. Once again, thank you for your support and interest in the walk.