Friday, 14 March 2014

Letter to Tony

Dear Hon Anthony John Abbott, Member For Warringah, 28th Prime Minister of Australia

 May I call you Tony?  I used to think that we were rather alike.  Both of us born in the U.K at a similar time, both of us with the rather unimaginative “John” as a middle name and we lived as near neighbours in the very same NSW electorate. In fact, I’m told, you were pursuing the property I ultimately purchased when we were both house hunting. We both have a pretty loopy affection for an outdated Monarchy, both love to hurl ourselves into the surf at Manly Beach (budgie smugglers optional) and were both raised in a strict code of contrived Christian morality. I suspect these days our voting patterns may be slightly different though.

  Before de-camping to government-owned digs, you lived in a suburb ironically called “Forestville”. I know now that you don’t put much value on native forests apart from their capacity to provide wood for furniture makers.  No one seems to have told you that, in reality, most logging involves bulldozing and wood-chipping the trees which are then exported to foreign companies to be pulped for paper.

  Apparently at a recent forest industry “love in” you recalled learning about the esoteric mysteries of wood at the knee of your grandfather, a shipwright by trade. The loggers must have thought you very quaint. You called them the  “ultimate conservationists”...Comedian Corinne Grant was a little more adroit “If loggers are conservationists, then Ivan Milat is a champion of population control” she penned. Another person observed that it was just as well Australia doesn’t still have a whaling industry because he couldn’t bear to hear the PM refer to the plucky harpoonists as the “ultimate animal welfare activists”.

 I’ve tried to understand you Tony. When you say Australia is now “open for business” part of me (i.e. my hands) wants to applaud. Then I realise that what you really mean to say is that our fragile environment and wildlife can now be exploited for a quick buck, no questions asked. You project a patriotic fervour but in reality you work at the behest of corporate greed-wherever it lays its shady hat.

 Surely it goes against all sense of Australian pride to want to de-list Tasmania’s World Heritage forests or “open up” our much loved National Parks to commercial interests. It amounts to hocking precious family heirlooms to pay for gambling debts. Oh yes and I remember that you did a similar thing, in your own constituency, when you withheld federal government intervention and allowed high conservation bushland to be sold off to overseas developers. 

 The community even took your wife Marg and daughters to see the creek-line habitat of a rare climbing fish that was threatened with local extinction but even that didn’t sway you. Later at a public forum you said you were “wearing sackcloth and ashes over that one”. But I see from your actions now that you must have been far from repentant.

Tony meets community reps trying to save bushland in his Warringah electorate (1999)

 Since coming to office it’s not just Tasmania’s forests that have been targeted. Your environment Minister, Greg Hunt, (and aligned State Liberal Premiers) have approved the dumping of 3 million cubic metres of dredging spoil on the Great Barrier Reef, allowed cattle grazing in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, given the green light to burning native forests for electricity in NSW and authorised the culling of Great White Sharks in W.A. (a globally threatened species). Philistines are leaping out of the parliamentary closet everywhere.  Not a good look in relation to the stewardship of our planet.

 As a professed "man of faith" and one who even trained to be a Jesuit priest, I would have thought you’d have taken heed of the many Biblical references which guide us towards caring for God’s creation e.g. “You shall not pollute the land in which you live, you shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell” (Numbers 35:33-34). Even with the welfare of three daughters at stake and climate change predictions forecasting a bleak future, you still won’t entertain the possibility of curbing the nation’s carbon emissions.

Just metres from Tony's electoral office, demonstrators gather to protect the environment.

 Another thing that sticks in the craw is when Liberal Treasurer Joe Hockey tells the Australian people that “the age of entitlement is over”. This is pretty hot on the heels of you claiming travel expenses, from the public purse, for attending charity and sporting events not to mention fronting up at colleagues’ weddings!  Don’t you get paid enough money already as Prime Minister?

 Years ago, before you were elected to the highest office, I dedicated a poem to you and the people of your political persuasion. It now seems more relevant than ever and I reproduce it below.

Minds Wide Shut.

There are too many rednecks in can see their flaky skin and rabid eyes. And they make coital moans at the sound of Alan Jones. As they celebrate his overture of lies.

There are far too many crazies in this country. Whose philosophy is far right of right extreme. They’ll sacrifice our forests, our rivers and our seas. Whilst deludedly profess to “live the dream”.

There’s one born every minute in this wide brown land. The refugee hating, Shooters party voting, climate change denying, wood chip loving type. They’ll be growing nuclear plants in our garden. And proliferating, when the fruits are ripe.

There’s a lot of Tony Abbotts in Australia. We’ve got the best democracy that money bought. And they steer this stately ship with a firm despotic grip. While they plunder human rights and don’t get caught.

So be sorry for these funny little Minchins. That roam the corridors of power and Cubbie Station. For Barnaby Joyce, will one day lose his voice. And Bob Brown will get the vote to lead this nation.

(Footnote:-we may need a new Bob Brown!)

If only our wildlife could vote!

M J Fisher