AS the clowns in Canberra continue their nation-numbing antics, a 61-year-old Gold Coast woman I am talking to tells me she just wants to die.

And it's no idle threat.

The woman, who we will call Ann to protect her privacy, is sitting in a fast food restaurant near Twin Towns resort at Tweed Heads.

She's sipping on an orange juice and drinking from a $1 coffee.

Wrapped in a well-worn cardigan, she's been walking the streets of the Gold Coast and Tweed all day.

Her thin legs and arms tell the story of a woman battling anorexia.

I'd come in to watch the TV news and catch up with the latest on the Liberal Party's self-destruction.

But this far more disturbing reality show came and sat on the table next to me.

After reading the day's paper, I am compelled to start a conversation with this woman who has started to incessantly brush her hair.

I later watch as she scribbles down things in her notepad, which she has pulled from a plastic bag.

"I've had a horrible life,'' she tells me, her head continually shaking with the stress of life.

Her nerves are clearly shot. Her weathered face tells the story of a woman who's done it tough.

Ann tells me how she has been evicted from three public housing units, even though she's a 'good person' who doesn't do drugs or make a commotion.

Her partner, she says, is physically abusive, sometimes smashing her in the face and head.

Her elderly mother lives in a house nearby but she says her sisters don't visit her.

The Gold Coast, circa the late 1990s.
The Gold Coast, circa the late 1990s.

She hates the Gold Coast, saying there are 'horrible' people in it.

I try to tell her that is a beautiful area with great beaches and beautiful parks to walk through.

Her regret is she's never travelled anywhere overseas.

"Have you been overseas?'' she asks.

Almost with guilt, I tell her I have.

I have been around the world, but tell Ann Queensland really is one of the best places in the world to live.

I tell her about California, and how the beaches are not nearly as pristine, and New York, where congestion and crime is a far bigger problem.

Cecille Morey

My parents, I continue, have travelled the world and reckon Queensland and Sunshine Coast is the best place they've ever found.

Ann's not convinced, obviously seeing the world through her own scarred experiences.

Repeatedly, the subject returns to her health and death.

She asks me whether people can die from not eating.

I tell her they can and she must eat something. She asks me why when she wants to die.

She rolls up her sleeves and begins covering her skinny arms with some sort of lotion, revealing the extent of her anorexia.

I keep talking to her, urging her to find help from a local community group, government agency or church in the area.

As she prepares to leave to walk more than 12 kilometres back home, I insist on buying her some food. She is
reluctant but says she will eat hash browns and chips.

PM Malcolm Turnbull holding a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
PM Malcolm Turnbull holding a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

We turn to the TV screen and briefly discuss our nation's leaders.

She doesn't like Malcolm Turnbull one bit and reckons Bill Shorten will look after the poor better.

But walking away, what is happening in Canberra doesn't make one iota of difference to her life.

She just wants to die.