I have sent the following letter to the Prime Minister via the email link on her website:
Dear The Hon Julia Gillard MP,
As a member of your constituency both locally and of course nationally, I feel compelled to write to you. When you were ‘just’ the local member, I liked you. I liked your style and the fact that you seemed to really care about the things that mattered. I liked that you were open about who you are and that you might not ‘fit the mould’ but that didn’t matter. When you became Prime Minister I was hopeful that you would bring some of this to your leadership of our country.
Unfortunately, since you have taken that leadership position, I have been nothing but disappointed. You seem to have let go of all values and are instead ‘playing the game’ and doing whatever it takes to keep your job. I understand that politics is complicated and sometimes you need to compromise but when it comes to human rights, there just shouldn’t be any compromise. John Howard’s era was one that I don’t want to revisit, however you are taking some of the worst decisions he made and not only perpetuating them but making them even worse. The thought that Tony Abbott could become our Prime Minister in the future is a scary one for me but at the moment you are not providing a much better option.
For starters the issue of marriage equality is a real problem. As an atheist and somebody who chooses to live in a de facto relationship, your problem with marriage equality doesn’t make any sense, until of course we look at your completely inappropriate relationship with the Australian Christian Lobby, a group that doesn’t represent the majority of Christians in this country let alone most people. I’ve seen your platforms from the days of student politics and the only explanation for you not being supportive of marriage equality is that you have sold out your values for the sake of your career. From somebody I used to admire, this is really disappointing. I, like yourself, am straight and cisgender and while I have been married before, have no intention of doing so again. But I, as you do, have the choice. People who are LGBTI do not have the choice and I cannot believe, despite what your words say, that you are actually okay with that. Why are you paying so much attention to the Australian Christian Lobby when you ignore requests to speak with atheists or more representative Christian groups?
However, during the week I have reached a whole new level of disappointment in you and your party. The policies for holding asylum seekers offshore in places like Nauru that were originally instituted under John Howard, have consistently been condemned by various human rights groups both locally and internationally. I know that the Australian public is largely ignorant of the actual extent of the problem and the causes and solutions, but you should be educating them rather than blindly ignoring human rights and quickly passing legislation hoping that nobody will notice. It is clear that the ‘expert panel’ set to look into the issue was set up to give you exactly the answers you wanted to just quickly push legislation through and this has been condemned widely by many organisations who actually understand what the human rights implications are of the offshore detention that has been passed during the week.
There are 10 unaccompanied minors already in the first group of people being sent to Nauru according to the ABC news website. Not that any of the adults in detention should be there either, as they haven’t broken any laws, but these are children. Children who will grow up for goodness knows how long in a prison-like existence through no fault of their own. It is simply heartbreaking for any compassionate person.
Have you talked to people that volunteer for the agencies that provide the much needed services that the government won’t? People like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre? People that see on a daily basis the effects that being in detention, for not breaking a single law anywhere, has on people? On families? People that realise that providing housing and services to asylum seekers in the community is not only a more humanitarian solution, but is also incredibly more cost effective? If you haven’t, then please do. If you have, and you are still happy to go ahead with the policies that you implemented during the week then I simply have to honestly wonder how on earth you sleep at night. Personally I’ve been having trouble reconciling the fact that my government is doing such things in my name, but to actually be the decision maker in all this? I certainly couldn’t live with that. If you can, good luck to you and I’m sorry that I had such misguided hope that your time as Prime Minister would actually produce something positive for this country.
*name and address withheld*