A group of kids at an unfashionable state school in a poor part of the outer suburbs wonder if they can get the kind of education that will let them get ahead.
An ageing mother of a disabled adult worries constantly that, when she's gone, there won't be enough financial support to give her child a decent life.
A person with sporadic mental health problems finds they can't get the support they need until things are really bad.
An indigenous person would like some more legal recognition of the role of the first Australians.
A farmer and a conservationist worry about what will happen when the next big drought hits the Murray-Darling Basin.
A man watches his wife head down to the pokies -- he knows she's got some of the rent in her handbag.
A lawyer helps her boyfriend set up a slush fund 17 years ago, which is later rorted.
All these issues were before Parliament this week -- the last sitting week until February. We all know which one dominated the democratic process and soaked up all the political capital, all the energy, all the time. As Andrew Wilkie said yesterday:
"I think it's regrettable that the discussion about Julia Gillard and AWU has swamped everything else because it's also been a week of other big issues, including finally getting poker machine reform through the Parliament."
Yes, we've covered the AWU scandal here at Crikey
-- precisely because it has dominated Parliament. We're covering it today. But as Bernard Keane writes, many "policy issues of substance and import" fell by the wayside this week as politicians obsessed over the politics.