Congratulations on becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
I wish I could greet your ascension to the leadership with the same elation I felt when Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election. Sadly, Rudd taught me not to expect too much of politicians. Indeed, I started out feeling like a kid who’d got a bike for Christmas, only to find out it had two flat tyres, no steering, and a bell that didn’t so much ring as babble incoherently in Mandarin.
Kevin Rudd came in promising to be one thing, and delivered another. He was all wrapping and no present. You haven’t had time to promise anything substantial so, at this stage, I’m not expecting much. But, mustering a little optimism and pretending for a moment that I’m a small kid writing to Santa, here’s my wish list for your Prime Ministership:
- The kids next door in the USA and France have this neat thing called the separation of church and state. I know you’re probably not going to get us a real shop bought, constitutionally guaranteed separation, but do you reckon you could run the government ‘as if’ we had one?
- A lot of us kids are sick of being bullied by Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby. Just because he used to lead the SAS he thinks he can tell us all what to do – whether we’re in his gang or not. I think he must have been stealing Kevin’s lunch money because when Jim said, “Jump!” Kevin said, “How high?” As you appear to have bigger balls than Kevin, could you please tell Jim he doesn’t represent the views of the majority of Australians and that his nasty, divisive, discriminatory views are no longer welcome in the ALP?
- Can you please get rid of school chaplains? If kids need counseling they should have the same access as adults do to trained professionals, not evangelists who are in the school grounds recruiting for Jesus. If parents want their kids to have access to religious counseling, maybe they should start taking the family to church instead of sleeping in on Sundays like the other 93% of the population. Remember that separation of church and state thing? Let’s keep our schools secular.
- Would you mind very much withdrawing funding from Exclusive Brethren schools which isolate children from the broader community, teach girls to be submissive and discourage young people from going to university? As an independent woman with the benefit of a university education, how can you countenance spending tax-payers’ money on such schools? Exclusive Brethren girls and boys don’t choose their religion – they’re born into it. There is no freedom of religion when you are not allowed to know there’s a choice!
- Perhaps it’s too much to ask, but if a law is worth having, surely it should apply to everyone. If everyone else is required by law to pay taxes, why not churches? If everyone else is required not to discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or religion, why do we allow exemptions for religious institutions? Fair’s fair, Julia. Let the religious institutions claim exemptions for their charitable work, but not ‘as of right’. And there’s an advantage to this – it means the government won’t be financing harmful cults like Scientology, the Christian Fellowship Churches or the Exclusive Brethren. Where their stockings were once stuffed full of tax-payers’ dollars, they’ll wake up to find, like other naughty children, all they have is a few bits of coal. Win!
- A letter to Santa really isn’t complete without a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. Julia, would you please stop the tradition of making political capital out of treating asylum seekers like criminal scum? Instead of ‘talking tough’ and locking these poor people and their families up behind razor wire indefinitely, how about trying to educate the Australian public about their plight? Maybe you could use some of the money you’re saving by taking down the mining tax ads?
- And finally, Julia, if I promise to be very, very good and vote for you at the next election, would you please boot out Senator Conroy and his ugly plans for an internet filter. We’re not in China or Iran and, as much as we all want children protected from the seedier side of the internet, we all know this filter is not the way to do it. One of your smarter elves, Senator Kate Lundy, knows about this. Give her a hearing. Better still, give her Conroy’s job.
Signing off with not much hope ….
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