Where you find people, you usually find passion and politics. People, whether they are our loved ones or friends, people are important. We rely on other people. It is difficult to live a life without communicating and caring about others.
I have heard people say over the years that life is better if you find and follow your passion! Is it that easy, I ask myself? Sometimes finding out what we are passionate about can be the most difficult activity. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may have noticed that I write on light-hearted subjects and then others that are socio-political. This is because I am passionate about human rights and social justice in all its many forms. My passion comes from my values, attitudes and worldview. I get passionate about “bad” decisions made by government leaders. Decisions that impact poorly on people and their well-being.
Now I am retired I can spend more time contemplating social and political issues facing older Australians. But, should I leave human rights and social justice alone and move into lighter topics! Walking more lightly on the planet, being environmentally conscious and living simply. Yes, I should do that. If I live simply I become more reliant on myself rather than others providing for all my needs. I then become more aware of my habits as a consumer and the impact these have on the environment. But then, even if I wade into these topics I find I am wading into the “political”. Life is full of politics and rather than sit on the sideline I like to get involved. I am interested in the decisions of government at every level that effect my life and others well-being.
I am annoyed about the changes to the age pension that impacted negatively on so many people. The goalposts were moved when the match was still being played. Imagine if that happened at a football match. Rioting would follow.
All on my own, I decided to have a “small” riot. My riot, my personal ruckus, has not even rippled the water! The first part of my ruckus on 5th January, 2017 was to write to my local federal Minister, Dr John McVeigh (Member for Groom). An automated reply on the same day included “if it’s not immediately clear in your email that you are from Groom, you may wish to resend it with your address details”. After 2 weeks, I thought maybe my Post Office Box address, which is in the Groom Electorate, was not sufficient. I then re-forwarded the email with my residential address. Another automated response. Six weeks on from when I first sent the email, no reply.
In my email to Dr McVeigh I asked for a “please explain”. Was this my first mistake? The query was how $2.4 billion will be saved by the introduction of changes to age pensioner entitlements? Politicians and the media were throwing around this line at the time and I could not find any mathematical basis for it.
On the 11th January, 2017 I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull. I posted the letter with a priority label. I am still waiting for a reply. I raised the point made by Everald Compton who has recommended the government establish an Age Pension Tribunal, one that is total independent of politics. It would be the same as the Parliamentary Salaries Tribunal. I asked the Prime Minister if he was supportive of such an approach? Will I ever hear? I have been looking forward to receiving my letter on the PM’s letterhead and signed with his personal signature. Am I subject to tactical ignoring? There is a power differential between me as an Australian citizen and a person who has the power to make decisions on my behalf! I hope I am not being tactical ignored! All that will do is “fire up” my passion for the cause! Since I sent off my email and letter I found out that politicians and their staff do ignore constituents. Correspondence that is too onerous is filed in the bin.
After a working life of over two decades in the Queensland State Government it was always my experience that anyone who contacted a Member of Parliament was treated with dignity and respect. Everyone received a reply and at times a phone call if they contacted the Minister or the Premier. Has something changed? Is everyone who contacts a politician with an issue being tactical ignored these days? Do people matter to politicians? Are politicians more worried about their rights and entitlements more than people? Does power create a false sense of superiority where people don’t matter?
The other day in parliament question time the Prime Minister showed his passionate side in his tirade against the Labor Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. It all started when Mr Shorten called the Prime Minister “Mr Harbourside Mansion”. He then questioned the Prime Minister about taking $2.7 billion from Australian families while proposing to give $7.4 billion to big banks in tax giveaways. The theatrics of Parliament question time! Politicians poking fun and laughing at one another and then being sent out of the chamber by the Speaker of the House for being disruptive. Is this the way to govern the country? Isn’t it time to get back to governing for the “people” and getting passionate about the well-being and lifestyle for every Australian?
What will happen at the State and Federal elections over the next couple of years? Will people vote with their feet and walk away from the major parties? In the meantime, don’t bother writing to a politician, you won’t get a response. A better option is to align with the organisation “GetUp”? My one lone voice is then amplified alongside millions of others. GetUp wants to see a “thriving democracy in Australia led by the values and hopes of everyday people” …. now that’s a good start!