Category Archives: Letters

Australia goes to “not-war” … again?

A letter to my Federal parliamentarians:

Dear Sirs,

Apparently while Parliament was not sitting over the weekend, Mr Abbott has declared that we are going to be gun-running for the Kurdish people fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq. He has indicated that we will apparently also be providing troops on the ground who may go into harm’s way should one of the planes being used for this gun-running activity be shot down and the crews need to be rescued.

I would appreciate a discussion in Parliament, and entered into the Parliamentary Record, to explain the reasons for Australia’s support to the Kurdish and other minority people of the region in this new fight, including an explanation of who and why the so called “Islamic State” developed and who originally funded it.
There may be a legitimate reasons why Australia should offer this support to these people – including provision of asylum if necessary. If there is, Australia may well have a role in providing that help, and Australians deserve to have those reasons explained.

But there are too many indicators that this is less about protecting people far away from our country, and more about protecting a Prime Minister and Government that is divisive, vindictive and determined to reduce our country to a mere resource to be gouged by others.

As Australians, I and my family deserve to be fully informed by our representatives as to the reasons why such risks by the Australian Defence Forces are to be taken.

Your employer,
*Not very impressed*

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The start of a new Senate term

I received an email from one of my Labor Senators this morning.
As there are now 18 cross benchers, I am tempted to feel a bit sorry for them as I contemplate both the schedule for the Senate to contemplate legislation and the mail-merge abilities of my word-processor *twinkle*
Yes, one can get the spreadsheets of addresses for both Senate and House of Reps from the Australian Parliament, just perfect for use with mail-merge programs.
Now to go write something to encourage those cross bench senators to vote the way I want them to. After all, they are supposed to be representing ME!

Despite all the bluster and claims of Senate obstruction, the Abbott Government has so far only presented a handful of Budget bills to the Senate.

Here’s the rundown on the current situation:
•   Appropriation Bills have passed the Senate.  We will never do what the Coalition did in 1975.
•   Scrapping the Schoolkids Bonus and the Low Income Superannuation Contribution. The Government sought to scrap Labor’s Schoolkids Bonus and Low Income Superannuation Contribution as part of its bill to repeal the Minerals Resources Rent Tax. Labor voted against this bill in the Senate and it was defeated in March.
•   Deficit reduction levy. This increases the top tax rate for people earning more than $180,000 a year. While it represents a broken promise, Labor did not oppose this measure in the Senate because it is targeted at those on very high incomes. The legislation has now passed Parliament.
•   GP and Medicines Taxes. Labor will vote against the new taxes of $7 per GP visit and $5 per chemist prescription when legislation comes into the Parliament.
•   Increasing university fees and student debt. Labor will vote against these measures.
•   Cutting indexation of pensions. We will vote against these cuts when legislation is brought into the Parliament.
•   Increasing petrol taxes. Labor will vote against the Government’s plans to increase fuel excises because of the cost of living impact on low and middle-income earners.

Dear Aunty

In the last few months I have become somewhat disappointed with the broadcasts on all your platforms in the area of political content.
It’s not that you are not providing an overview of the current political scene, it’s that it is so easy to pick holes in what is provided.

Interviewers do not ask the hard or awkward questions. Hosts ‘explain’ what guests mean, twist the meaning and then speak over their guest when the guest tries to correct them.
Broadcasts by one political ‘side’ of politics are often cut short for ‘technical reasons’ or non-news items so that one doesn’t see pronouncements by the ‘wrong side’ of the political spectrum.
Panels are often stacked by partisan participants of a single political persuasion with no apparent awareness that there might be another point of view so that the ‘conversation’ becomes a propaganda exercise and not a discussion.

This is so different to the political coverage of twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. You see, l can remember when you did what you do, only so much better than you are doing them now!

Dearest Aunty ABC, l know that it is difficult to serve such a diverse audience and that this current government is busy bullying you by threatening to withhold funding for one of this country’s cultural treasures. But for heaven’s sake, or at least that of Australians who prefer their viewing unadulterated by other commercial interests, or those who have no other broadcast media available. Could you please find the guts to actually ask the difficult questions and broadcast the full viewpoints that any government may not be happy about?

Remember, dear Aunty, the only reason bullies and dictators get away with their destructive behaviour because it is scary to stand up to them. But if they are not resisted, then all the good things in society will disappear and life will become short, brutal and mean again.
Not only that, but if you submit to the blandishments of an abusive person as you have done in the last ten years or so, you will find yourself in the same place as other victims of abuse, i.e. dead.

I would hate to see that, as I think the ABC is a significant part of what makes us Australians. So please, Aunty, pull on your flame-proof underwear and report the facts so that your audience once again can have an honest, factual and, above all, trustworthy basis on which to base our choices.

With concern and hope,
An ABC audience member

Abandon the shark cull, please! UPDATE:

UPDATE:  Received 20140114.12:14

Hi [incorrectly spelt personal name redacted]

Thank you for your email.

These new shark mitigation strategies are in force to uphold the WA Government’s duty of care for West Australians and give all of us the ability to make responsible decisions about our water use.

We have spoken to a wide range of stakeholders including fishing industry representatives, Recfishwest, marine scientists and academics, Surfing WA, the Recreational Water Users Association, The Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Surf Life Saving WA, conservation groups, board riders and other Australian State Governments. Submissions were also received from the CSIRO and WA Water Police to ensure that these measures are warranted.

The hooks on the drum lines are very big and are specifically designed to target big sharks. The bait is also specifically selected to target sharks and not dolphins. In this respect all due care is being taken to ensure only large shark are caught. The 1km distance from shore is in line with SLSWA protocols. In Queensland drum lines are set as close as 350m from shore.

I understand this is a controversial issue however and have passed your feedback onto the Minister for Fisheries office.

Thank you for contacting me.

Kind Regards,

Nathan Morton MLA
Member for Forrestfield

Notes: This reply, although it had my original email attached with my name spelt in full, still managed to misspell my name. It’s the little things that count … *sighs*

Abandon the shark cull, please!

Nathan Morton was elected to represent the seat of Forrestfield at the last WA State election. This means he is supposed to be my representative in State Parliament. Which means that I can bring things to his attention that I think need to be paid attention to.
The proposed shark cull in Western Australia is something that I think should be less about vengeance against creatures who were ‘doing their thing’ and tragically taking the lives of two people enjoying their lives ‘doing their thing’ right where those hungry animals where being, well, hungry!

It doesn’t make the loss of life any less sad, and not to dismiss lightly that loss either, but unless there is sound evidence (and I don’t mean ‘goodness me, there’s a triangular fin in the water’) that a particular shark is making a habit of eating people instead of seals, what good does killing hundreds of other sharks, or other aquatic creatures who will be caught and killed by the proposed drum-line hooks, do then?

If people want to dress up like seals in wetsuits and enjoy surfing and diving in places where sharks also go hunting for their dinner, then surely it is the responsibility of the people involved to be aware of their risks?

As far as I can tell, the only ones interested in this shark cull are the politicians, and I’m sure there are many more deaths that they would have a better chance of doing something about or averting than attempting to take pot-shots at big hungry fish!

So, this is the letter I have just sent to my representative:

Dear Mr Morton

It is with increasing dismay that I note the pleas of scientists, fishermen, surf-riders and others who are familiar with the sea-coast, are being ignored by the current government with regards to the proposed “shark cull”.

All human deaths at sea are tragic — but this knee-jerk response is scientifically unproven and pushes already vulnerable species to the brink, not to mention affecting other species lower down the food chain by removing top predators. In the end it will also affect the livelihoods of fishermen and enjoyment of the oceanic environment, as has been seen in other places around the world.

Culling sharks is merely a cosmetic solution to the problem of shark attacks. Public education and shark avoidance are measures with long-lasting effects that will ensure the co-existence of sharks and humans. Non-invasive methods such as aerial patrols have been proven to work in minimising the already small chance of a shark attack. In the long-term, these measures will probably prove less costly than shooting sharks that may not have taken a bite out of a human.

It is only an hysteria-driven populist reaction by this government that is proposing such an expensive, ultimately useless, and unscientific cull.

It would be far more cost effective to educate West Australians as to the risks, allowing those who desire the liberty and responsibility of swimming with sharks the privilege of doing so.

As my representative in the West Australian parliament I expect you to present my request to Premier Barnett that this shark cull be abandoned and more effective and long-lasting educational action be provided, based on information from the Department of Fisheries – who I have to note, have not yet let the tender for the cull as of today’s date, 8th January 2014.

Kind regards,

Your employer