Sunday 3 October 2010

Stevie, the cleaning lady - the photo opp you can buy

Desley went to Lotus Glen prison. Curtis played on a construction site. Steve cleaned the Smithfield shopping centre. Jason, well, we don't know what Jason did.
They've been branded as cheap political stunts, as Queensland Premier Anna Bligh sent her MPs out to work in 'ordinary jobs' for a day, a grand plan to win back hearts and minds of Queenslanders.

The "Walk a Day in My Shoes'' scheme is a rather blatant PR exercise for the State Labor government that is facing a grim election race within the next 12 months. Robert MacDonald of the Courier-Mail says the Walk a Day programme is an insult to Queensland workers.

"This is one of the stupidest and most cynical political stunts to be rolled out by an increasingly stunt-dependent administration," Robert MacDonald says. "Shouldn't our elected representatives already have a fair idea of our concerns, beefs and wishes, as part of their everyday duties? By forcing MPs to get out of their offices and to spend a day in some manual job or other, isn't Ms Bligh conceding her MPs are out of touch? I would have thought so, but the Premier foresaw this line of criticism, when she announced this stunt three weeks ago."

Bligh doesn't care what others say about the scheme.

"I understand there may be cynicism from the Opposition and others in relation to this project, but that will not deter or distract my Government's commitment to do better for Queenslanders," Anna Bligh said.

So how does a walk in someone else's shoes for a day, well, not literally, actually makes things "better for Queenslanders''? Bligh says it offers a way to make new connections in our communities'.

Barron River MP Steve Wettenhall spent a day last week as a cleaner at Smithfield Shopping Centre. He started at 7am cleaning toilets, sweeping and mopping floors, picking up rubbish and emptying bins.

"Walk a day in my shoes program has been adopted by state Labor MP’s as a novel way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the daily experiences of Queenslanders in a wide variety of industries, by politicians taking on a job in their community," Steve Wettenhall said. He spent the day with Terressa from Spotless.

"It certainly taught me that cleaners in a major shopping centre like Smithfield do a lot more than just clean," Steve Wettenhall said. "Cleaners are the eyes and ears of the centre and play a very significant role in safety and security and enhancing the overall experience of customers. As we trundled up and down the arcade during the day, I could see how her work and her work attitude was valued by customers and shopkeepers, as well as centre management.”

“I think both of us learnt a bit more about each others’ jobs too, as we shared stories and experiences and Teressa was able to observe the interaction I had with staff, store owners and customers who were ready to have a chat and poke a bit of fun at the sight of a pollie
with gloves and a mop!”

“At the end of the day, Teressa said she would not want to swap roles with me, so both of us agreed we prefer our own jobs,” Wettenhall said, “but I certainly found the exercise worthwhile and the feedback was positive as well. Well, A cleaner is paid around a quarter of what a State MP gets, for a start.

"My first task was staring down the S bend giving the dunnies a once over backed up with a code one race to the site where some poor youngster failed to hold down his morning breakfast," Steve said about his day cleaning. "All in a days work for a cleaner."

"Then it was onto the bins, picking up rubbish, sweeping, mopping, wiping and generally keeping the place safe and looking presentable. Many storeowners, staff and customers took the opportunity to have a chat. Most seemed delighted at the mere thought - let alone the sight - of their local member "doing a real job" especially a cleaners job, and many encouraged Teressa to make sure I got 'down and dirty'," Steve Wettenhall said.

"I did, and I enjoyed it. Teressa and I covered some territory today, patrolling the 1/2 kilometre long arcade up and down several times. My legs were tired. It was hard work," he told CairnsBlog.

"I learnt that cleaners do much more than just clean. They are always 'just there' for lost customers, always 'just there' to pass on a message for a shopkeeper, always keeping an eye out for potential trouble or danger. Without them cleaning up the spills and removing the hazards, we would all pay more for the goods and services we buy as shopping centre insurance claims and premiums would rise."

Steve says next time you visit your local shopping centre, spare a thought for the cleaner, say hi when you pass them by, and try not to make too much mess as you go about your business.

"As the umpteenth person expressed the hope that I would encounter the worst mess imaginable to clean up, Teressa observed that she wouldn't swap her job for mine," Steve Wettenhall said. "Anyone want to walk in the shoes of a pollie for a day?"


yk said...

I see nothing wrong with the lawyers and Party hacks in Parliament getting their hands dirty for the first time in their lives provided they do it without telling anyone. It becomes just another political stunt when they invite the press and television along for the ride. And a few other points come to mind: what sort of orientation were they given before commencing duty? Were background checks done before Desley spent the day at Lotus? Was Steve passed competant to handle all the cleaning chemicals used at Smithfield? Who paid their Workcover costs? Did they have Workcover? What happened to the money they earned or did they work pro bono? Did they join the appropriate Union for the day? The list goes on and on! Another farce.

Steve's former client, presently in Lotus Glen said...

I notice how good he looks as a cleaner. Much better than he ever looked as a lawyer or MLA. I reckon he can take this job up for real in 2012.

Constance Lloyd said...

I agree with yk. A political stunt.

It's the unsung and unannouced volunteers that deserve to patted on the back. I know for sure that there are pollies from both sides of the divide who do volunteer work and who would be horrified with any publicity.

Stuey said...

Clean the whole lot of State pollies out from both sides, they are a circus.

KitchenSlut said...

Well said Constance Lloyd!

Also some charities in Cairns, however worthwhile, have been demonised if deemed to be supported by an opposing political clique, including Cairns Regional Counsellors (sic) as I understand but am currently not at liberty to say more just now!

Hans said...

I recall a similar stunt in Russia some years ago...the peasants revolted and overthrew the powers that be...

Hans Van Veluwen said...

they really don't give us much credit for intelligence do they?..makes you want to puke sometimes...they should get back to the job of running the state

Colin R said...

All your comments are off the mark .
They were actually seeing what they may have a chance of doing , when we give them all the arse at the next election.

chris forsberg, bayview heights said...

It's as well that Steve Wettenhall
didn't "walk in Desley Boyle's shoes" for a supposed "days work"
at Lotus Glen Prison. Former clients of the legal aid lawyer,
incarcerated there-in, might well
have vented their dissatisfaction
at his representations on their behalf.

Obviously, the "day's work experience" stunt was nothing more
than a cheap political trick.

Minister Ms. Boyle, supposedly
pretending to be an "indigenous
liason officer", took full advantage of the media 'photo-opportunities' while spending a
few hours at the above-mentioned
prison - but was surrounded by a
phalanx of security officers
throughout her visit...

Ms. Boyle impressed the prison
staff with her diligence and
eagerness to learn - a successful
p.r. exercise for the much maligned
minister - but whether or not she
got to spend any 'quality time'
with an actual in-mate is doubtful.

At least Steve Wettenhall took-on
a bucket and mop for the 'photo-op'
- poetic justice might have been
served had he been 'sent' to Lotus
Glen for a part-day 'stretch'.

Craig Bush said...

shame Bligh won't return the favour by allowing Queenslanders a chance to 'walk in their shoes'... woops, I mean be driven around in a government limo with a government driver, fly around in jets at taxpayer expense, eat fantastic meals and drink fine wines at the Parliamentary restaurant... I suppose thats why 'they' could only manage 'one day' in 'our shoes'... the act of standing and walking such a 'chore' for them.

Phil Lesbirel said...

Doesn't Anna Bligh realise that every man, woman and child in this state have their place in our society? We all have a job to do which others rely on to be carried out well. If one falls down it dominoes back on everyone else. From cleaner to lawyer, we all run this state. Pollies? well they think they do, but most of the time they just stuff it up for the rest of us. Go on Anna, sell my railway, my electricity. Oh, by the way, do I get a cheque in the mail for my share of the sale of my assets? Walk in the shoes is a joke Anna.