Sophie Scamps’ win shows that chat at the kitchen table can now be heard loud and clear

It’s 10pm Election Day and I’m waiting for my ride home from the Dee Why RSL. This is where the independent Dr Sophie Scamps team has gathered and achieved a historic victory. They’re still partying upstairs in their sky-blue T-shirts.

In the front I have collected one last shot. It’s from a guy: ‘How about when ScoMo jumped on that little kid at soccer? That was nonsense!”

This was always an unlikely victory. She has dethroned incumbent Jason Falinski, conquering a 13.3% margin and wresting Mackellar’s seat from the Liberal Party after 73 years.

When I get home, I realize that all the other comments I recorded tonight are from women. This is their night. From head to toe, the women of Mackellar organized, surfaced and executed a flawless campaign.

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Susan is 70, from Newport, and has been a head teacher at TAFE: “In four months they were informed. Something TAFE couldn’t do in a hundred years. They signed up, gathered. They organized. They took care of the logistics, the interpersonal relations and the teams. They’ve pushed people to act and take on different roles, they’ve made them work together. There was no ego or conflict.”

Susan: “It was just… gorgeous. If every organization were run this way, Australia would lead the world!”

Helen is almost 80 and in tears. From the start of the independent campaign, she says she has seen with quiet anger the disdain for independent women. She says they have been treated as “almost like a cult”.

“I want to tell the world that women can do it!” she says. “We’ve always known this is the way, but it’s been blocked by the misogynistic men. The men in power.”

The “Voices of Mackellar” was formed in July 2020 by a group of local women — mothers, sisters, daughters and friends — when a candidate of Scamps’ caliber appeared to be a mirage.

Since then, organizer Rebecca Clarke says her team of volunteers (all 1,228) has appeared “day after day, after day”.

“History is written by those who show up, and that’s exactly what we did,” she says.

When I finally catch up with an ecstatic Scamps, she stands arm in arm with her female supporters: “This started with women around the table deciding there was a much better way to do politics and a much better way to be represented. Positive. Optimistic. Powerful.

“And that’s how we want to behave in parliament as well.

“We flew under the radar and we were totally happy to do so. We knew there were conversations going on around the dinner table, the wine bars, in the kitchens and the cafes.

“We always knew this was the way to do it…one conversation at a time.”

Tonight, that quiet kitchen-table conversation reverberates in the halls of power.

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