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*Pic: Flickr, David Blackwell: ‘Walking home one evening in 2074 Paul wondered about the scientific breakthrough reversing the effects of climate change and its impact on his beach condo investment’ …

An open letter to all politicians, state and federal.

Another election and more cause for total despair. Never have I been so sad and feel so betrayed by those who are supposed to lead this country for the benefit of all ...

The biggest No. 1 issue of all is climate change, and you’re doing nothing.  We know the use of fossil fuel is killing us, but you continue to support it. 

The technology now exists to provide the entire country with its power needs through solar – and we have the land to do it on – so why are you not initiating this?  You continue to promote TPPs which are based on world-wide transporting of goods (using more fuel). 

You massively promote tourism, when the reality is that the more flights come in, the more our atmosphere is damaged.  How long till there is no breathable air left for our children?  Tourists come for our ‘clean fresh air’ when we know that it is already exceeding 400ppm, and that every single tourist contributes to making it worse.  NDEVR Environmental last December pointed out that, while carbon emissions from the electricity market had dropped (due to increased wind-generation), the emissions from transport were at record levels, specifically due to diesel and aviation fuel. 

And the UN weather agency reported that atmospheric change is occurring 10 to 20 faster than ever observed in our planet’s history.  The UN Secretary General’s New Year message centred around a Red Alert on climate change ‘moving faster than we are’.  The science is completely clear on this – and you keep looking away.  You allocate money for more airport runways and roads and tourism projects, when you should be planning for extra ferries, including smaller faster passenger and light freight ones, railways and better public transport if you really want to support tourism for the long term. 

But more and more aeroplanes, shipping containers and trucks to service the TTPs you are so fond of, mean that there will very shortly be nothing long-term to plan for anyway.  Instead of actively supporting local industry and discouraging the purchasing of imported goods, you are wilfully ignoring the warning signs, so you can remain cosied up to your big-business mates, and I don’t know how any of guys sleep at night. 

In your obsession with the political party system, you are destroying our democracy.  There can be no fair elections for as long as there are any donations, or any political lobbying, or any advertising.  While these things are allowed to happen, elections are a sham. 

The point of a democratic government is not about which party is in power, but about good governance.  You waste our tax dollars in insulting each other and dismantling each other’s policies (whether they are good or not), when you should be getting together to do the best for this country.  Ergo – you are living proof that the party-system is rotten and past its usefulness.  Any candidate standing for any party will not be considered by me, because no matter how decent that individual might be, we know they are going to disappear into the policies of the party. 

And those policies are superficial, untrustworthy, lacking in all wisdom, short-term only, predicated by the dollar and power only.  And worse, it’s not our dollars you’re promoting, but those of the big corporations.  You have lost all sense of what a proper government’s duties are, that is, to remain neutral and to administer and regulate wisely for the best benefit of the whole country.  Do you really think your silly party power games, done at our expense during the time we pay you to represent Australia’s interests, leaves me with any respect for any of you?

You are weakening our most valuable infrastructures and assets by selling them to overseas investors.  When we no longer own the ground on which our wheat grows and our cows graze, we are helpless puppets in the hands of corporations who care only for profit.  Like fools, you give them big money and then hypocritically howl when they downsize and chuck 1000s out of their jobs.  Nor are you willing to protect us by regulating things like (say) the milk price. 

You’re offering some nice monetary help to our hard-pressed farmers?  No, the real help for them would be to tell the big investors that if they want to operate here, that’s the price they’ll have to pay.  And don’t worry – the corporations are not going to go away and take (as you so like to imply) those jobs with them – because the good soil, and those cows, are right here.  As are the consumers.  Always providing you’ve not sold them away, like you did recently with the VDL Co.

The same goes for our essential infrastructure, such as our Basslink cable – if we still owned that, we could have fixed it immediately and saved all the expense and pollution of bringing in diesel generators.  You know what?  Those Hong Kong guys must the laughing all the way to their bank at our stupidity.  And why did you give all those millions to that foreign-owned car industry – which now has gone – when the intelligent thing would have been to start our own electric-car-building factories, using all that now-wasted money for a long-term investment and jobs right here, where we can regulate it. 

You say you’re for job creation, but that’s simply not true.

Apart from the obvious folly of supporting foreign-owned industries, and then not being willing to set some regulations around them, the simple way to create jobs is to literally make them.  Build a stronger,  better public service.  Employ ticket collectors instead of wasting millions on Myki cards.  Employ more people to process refugee applications faster.  Employ even more to patrol our seas, not to stop those boats, but to shepherd them safely in to proper migrant centres, that are decently run (by employing more public servants – teachers, doctors, counsellors, therapists, language and culture helpers, as well as cleaners and security staff) on our soil, and employ still more people to weed out those who might have dubious connections and who can help the rest become assets to our country – as most refugees will. 

Our past history proves that – why are you ignoring this lesson?  You make me ashamed to be Australian with the way you are locking up desperate people.  We need these people to revitalise our dying rural towns – so, employ some more people to make that happen.  It would be a far better use of the billions you are currently and shamefully spending on detention centres.  It is a great lesson of Life that those who are generous and sharing are the ones who will gain the greatest benefit.  Where’s the politician who puts that as his priority?  That’s the one who would get my vote.

You say you’re for a secure Australia, but your policies are achieving the opposite.  Your attitudes to terror sow fear and hatred and fuel racism.  You spend billions on defence you say we need but which is just to keep in with your US mates.  Instead of manufacturing subs, why are we not building the small electric buses our transport system needs so desperately?  Or electric cars, and their infrastructure? Or those powerful new solar panels that our own scientists have developed? 

And so much more clever technology that can help?  Why are you buying these things in, from someone else’s labour and using yet more fuel to bring them here, when we could be a stronger country for having those jobs right here?  You might say it costs too much to employ locally but how much will you save on dole payments, counselling, hospitals and emergency services when more of us have secure jobs? But back to your beloved defence spending – why are you so determined to be in with the other big forces (US in particular) when actually it is quite possible to stop manufacturing arms, stop building armies, and stop presenting aggressive attitudes to others? 

Would you actually have the courage to create a peaceful country that does not invite terror and could in fact be a world leader?  And maybe claw back some global respect, too?  What goes on in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere is not our business, and I cannot respect you for constantly drawing us in on the unholy and war-making alliances of others.  Why don’t we fix up our own country, and keep global co-operation, which potentially is a wonderful and desirable thing, to where it belongs: agreements for climate amelioration, peaceful cooperation in sciences, education, social and cultural services?

Make Australia a stable country by regulating our agriculture, and encouraging other countries to do the same with theirs.  All it requires is one totally simple and logical rule:  do not import anything that can be produced locally. 

This gives farmers the stability they need to grow, and has so many benefits – helping rural areas to thrive, employing more people, securing our food supply, giving us pride in our own.  Have the courage to step away from your love affair with the global trading policies that only serve the big corporations and that weaken us, and have the guts to regulate a few things.  If all the world abided by this one simple rule, there would be less fuel used to transport stuff, there could be peaceful global cooperation about selling surpluses to those who cannot produce certain things (say, wheat to Iceland), there would be less poverty and more justice, and more stability and equity all round. 

To be encouraging our local producers to sell to (say) China – and a lot of that produce is flown out, causing yet more pollution – is just to put us at the mercy of foreigners’ regulations, as the Bellamy story recently demonstrated.  You undermine our market by allowing imports of food and processing that we could grow and do here, our farmers and processors instead could have a guaranteed market of 22 million Australians to be sure of as their basis, without the uncertainty of what the next fruit fly outbreak will do, or whether cheaper South American meat is going to destabilise their own sales.  It is so simple and obvious, but I see no moves from our government in any such direction.  This perversity cannot be dismissed as ignorance or even incompetence, but a very deliberate approach that clearly has nothing to do with what’s good for Australia.

So much money for education – and still a continuing dumbing-down.  So, Tasmanians are too dumb to take up educational opportunities, are we?  What about the fact that these have been steadily taken away from us? 

Since the 1970s, the curriculum has been destroyed into a farce, no longer offering any real education or challenge to our intelligence.  Schooling has simply been turned into ‘fun’ (how can you expect any kid to take education seriously when they are told that from day one?), and into a pathway for job preparedness, which is not its business at all.  We don’t need more fancy classrooms or playgrounds, but a proper curriculum and teachers who are equipped to pass on real knowledge. 

Then you took away our TCAE (Tas College of Advanced Education) which gave access to all, from school leavers to older adults, to real skills and furtherance and dignity.  No, you decided we should all go to university and determined to charge us insane fees for it, but this is not equitable.  The majority of us are not academically inclined, but are nevertheless very capable – and the TCAE catered perfectly for us.  The idea of making big money by selling education to overseas students has blinded you to our own needs.  By all means offer courses to foreigners – but do so in separate, purpose-dedicated institutions rather than skewing our own. 

There are so many more things that show how totally our political system no longer represents us:  your failure to support an independent media, your unwillingness to regulate the hospitality industry even though all evidence tells us of the damage alcohol and gambling does, no proper apprenticeships schemes, not supporting families as though children growing up in stable homes were not one of our most important assets, and much more. 

You keep pushing relentless consumerism as though economic growth is the only way to make a good country.  But it is in fact destroying us all, encouraging greed and more pollution, and none of you have the guts to make a stand for better policies.  But above it all – the final and decisive factor – is that you are not taking climate change seriously and won’t do what it takes to tackle it.  For that betrayal of our children’s future, I cannot forgive you and there’s just no way you are going to get my vote.

The greatest tragedy in all this is that we have right here in Australia all the potential to do well.  We have a strong healthy people with many exciting entrepreneurs among them.  We’re a largely decent lot and mostly aware of just how lucky we are.  We have all – and more – of what we need, enough land to grow our own, a vibrant arts sector, pensions, aged care and public health, police and rule of law, and we also had major public institutions that once stood for equity and social justice. 

Of the last item, I say ‘we had’ advisedly – because the extraordinary thing is that, despite all these wonderful advantages, we have an appalling political mess up there in Canberra – a corrupt system mired in petty party politics, lies, empty promises, vacuous brawling that passes for political debate and a total lack of anything thoughtful, wise, erudite or honourable.  All the vibrant potential of our lucky country is being degraded by Canberra’s woeful performance.  How could this have happened?

To voters I say: think hard about how you will vote.  Many civilizations have vanished from this world, and all the indicators of their approaching doom seem to have been: deforestation and environmental neglect, the failure to produce their own food, and the wasteful excesses of war.  We tick all those boxes already.  Will your children’s future come first, as you drop that paper in the ballot box?

To politicians I say: your total lack of any ability to cooperate for the sake of the larger good, both in Australia and overseas, your selfish greed and lack of any moral decency, and the fact that this is getting ever worse – you are not learning a thing, are you? – makes me realise that there is no hope for better policies to be expected from any of you.  You are a scourge on this planet, quite literally, and you are selling, knowingly, our children’s future down the drain. 

If there is a single one of you who can genuinely stand up and say otherwise, I would like to hear from you.

*Elizabeth Fleetwood ‘is of European origin and has lived in Tasmania for nearly 35 years.  Ran two dairy farms in the NW, then two retail businesses in Burnie, raised a family of three children there; moved to Hobart 17 years ago and ran a tourism business for 10 years before selling and ‘retiring’ recently.  Initially an unwilling immigrant, it was not long before the (then) pristine beauty and extraordinary history of this Island exerted its influence and created a campaigner for the preservation of this unique place. To see it being destroyed, along with the values that once made Australia a truly special place worth coming to, is a matter of great concern for this ordinary citizen, whose grandchildren will one day ask: why did you let this happen?’