Peter Blundell, the man who until a few short months ago was the high-flying, widely-popular Mayor of the Southern Downs, was delivered an absolute mauling by the voters of Warwick, Stanthorpe and surrounds in the recent council elections held to so that the people may decide the peer they wanted to lead their south-western Queensland community and represent their values, hopes and dreams.
This election though was more than that, much much more. It were not votes for a leader that were cast in this close-knit rural community, it was judgement. Judgement on a man who many, including myself, accused of turning on his own, and in the process casting aside the values that ordinary Australians hold as their core of their very being.
Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.
These are not mere words, but rather a recitation of what it means to live in this wide brown land of beauty and terror, a land that rural Australians know better than us all. These words speak of patience, and faith, and of sticking together through the hard and tough times, and celebrating as one when come the rains. They are values and deeply held beliefs, not mere lines etched upon paperbark.
Australians don’t abide by blokes who under the cover of cloud-filled dark skies set up and abandon their own; fellas who for reasons of their own lie and deceive flawed and fallible souls who regardless of their faults are simply having a fair dinkum decent dig and trying to do the right thing by their community and their fellow man.
Jamie Mackenzie, the former Southern Downs Councillor who was cruelly deceived by Blundell and his band of misguided men, was like all of us a person made mistakes as he plodded through the often potted path of life. Jamie didn’t always make the right choices, and sometimes got it wrong just as we all do, and often his opponents disagreed with his opinions and his views.
But no-one who ever knew Jamie ever doubted for a second that he was always motivated by good intentions, and didn’t have a malicious bone in his body, or an ounce of hatred in his honorable, gentle human heart.
Jamie was a decent and fair man, who ought to have been treated with the decency and fairness which defined his person and his passion for public service, qualities that he always afforded to others and thoroughly deserved in return.
But politics can be a cruel and wicked game, and the lust for power can turn an ordinary little man living in a small pond into a malevolent tiger who will turn on its own in order to feed upon the self-imagined importance that fuels his mind and feeds his self-deceit driven corrupted soul.
So it was with Peter Blundell, the Mayor who probably started out with good intentions, free of the fires of avaricious ambitions that lured him down the paths that earlier this year he to his undoubted regret today chose to trod. It is quite likely that Blundell is a thoroughly decent man. I don’t know and I don’t deign to profess that I do. But what I do know is that like a battalion of sinners before him, and almost certainly a squadron to follow, for whatever reason it may be he not that long ago did a bad, bad thing. He set the thorn pricking into his political side up for a fall, and by doing so set in train a series of tragic that without warning or intent sparked a fire that ended in a nightmare of never contemplated terrible consequences, an inferno that ended in his council opponent Jamie Mackenzie opting to extinguish his all too fleeting presence upon this earth.
I do not for a minute blame Blundell for how it all played out, and I am sure that the vision of the flames fills his mind and tortures him each and every precious day. But we are what we do – as bitter a truth as that may be – and so it is as it always been before, and the reality of that time-worn truth is something that the man who once loved being called Mayor will have to live with for the rest of his days.
I don’t blame Blundell, and I don’t believe that the people of the Southern Downs district do either, but I do know that the good folk of the sweeping plains upon which my great-grandfather was born and raised, the jagged mountain ranges that cast distant shadows on the piece of sunburnt earth on which my ancestor stood as he enlisted to go to fight for his country and ours, and die in the mud not far from Flanders Field, cast their judgement on Peter Blundell.
And almost to a woman and man they determined that he was not the leader they wanted to represent their values and ideals and principles and hopes and dreams.
Thus so, like the allegorical biblical lamb cast bound upon the Old Testament altar, Blundell was politically slaughtered, his community kicking and hacking at him at the ballot box until nothing of his presence remained except a bitter taste, and the ghosts of aching memories needing to be banished to the badlands of the past.
In many ways I feel enormous sadness for Blundell, a man who in political terms must now like Cain walk across the earth forever alone. But each man pays the price of his sins, and each man is born and dies alone, just as Jamie Mackenzie discovered on that fateful summer’s day standing on the green, green grass of his beloved inter-generational home.
The people of his community have cast their judgement upon Peter Blundell, and I have nothing to add to the voice of those who once loved him and knew him well. I simply hope and pray that the man who once was Mayor may find the inner strength to understand and accept that to err is merely human, but that forgiveness is divine, and with the wisdom of such knowledge claw his way out of the cavern of darkness into which he has fallen, and by the weight of good deeds work his way back into the love and the light of this world.
Walk in the way of the light friend, show mercy and kindness to all, and forgiveness and redemption will surely be yours.
God bless you Mr Blundell.
God bless Jamie and his grieving family.
God bless us all.