Careful what you wish for

pinterest-fails-minionsCareful what you wish for. I wonder if anyone ever said this to Turnbull while he scurried around courting leadership votes from his Liberal and National colleagues? There are lots of metaphors you can throw at his current predicament. He’s sipped on Abbott’s poison chalice. His Teflon glean is sticky. His shine has worn off. Voters thought a Turnbull government would look like the cake on the left, but in reality, it’s just the Abbott cake with different colour icing – underneath it still tastes exactly the same.

Reality not meeting expectations is usually disappointing rather than pleasantly surprising. I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand why on earth voters chose Abbott in the first place since I spent years advising against this terrible decision and was completely unsurprised when PM Abbott turned out to be just as big a disaster as I predicted he would be. But presumably Abbott won the last election because voters thought he would do a better job of running the country than the Labor government. It only took a few months for them to realise their terrible mistake. This realisation and corresponding dissatisfaction with Abbott gave Turnbull his chance to pounce. And pounce he did.

In the blink of an eye, Turnbull became Prime Minister of Australia, a job he was never elected for, which, as Gillard proved, had he been a woman and a Labor MP he would have paid dearly for with the label of back-stabbing-illegitimate-swine. But Turnbull slid in scot-free, proclaiming there was never a more exciting time to be an Australian voter who hadn’t voted for him to be PM.

There are good arguments to say Turnbull got away with his coup because voters hated Abbott and were pleased to see him go. It makes sense they were willing to accept whatever had to happen to remove the most embarrassing, incompetent Prime Minister Australia has ever had. But I think there’s more to Turnbull’s free ride and corresponding honey-moon popularity in the polls than meets the eye. I think it’s possible that voters’ acceptance of Turnbull is their silent, shameful, never-to-be-admitted relief that their Abbott mistake went away without them having to admit this mistake was their doing in the first place.

There’s a decision making theory in marketing called Post-Purchase Dissonance which describes the tensions a consumer feels after buying something which they invested time and energy choosing, when they’re not 100% sure they’ve made the right decision. Usually attributed to making large purchases such as a house or a car, buyers apparently often go out of their way to justify their purchases in order to calm their Post-Purchase Dissonance, even when there is rational evidence in front of them that their decision was a poor one. For instance, if the car they bought was a lemon.

You see the same irrational behaviour when people make all sorts of huge life decisions which turn out to be bad ones; it is very rare that the decision maker ever publically admits their mistake. Have you ever met someone who has been through a messy divorce from a man who was clearly a terrible choice for a husband, who everyone always knew was a dickhead, but the best his ex-wife can do to explain why she married him in the first place is to say ‘he changed after we got married’. The divorcee will very rarely say ‘I was a fool for marrying him’ because it’s human nature to justify important decisions in our life as good ones, even when all evidence contradicts this.

For most voters, the decision of who to vote for is not one they invest much time in, but nevertheless, there must be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Australian voters who, while watching Abbott swing a wrecking ball through Australian culture, society and economy had a little voice in the back of their mind saying ‘you chose this outcome… oops’. Imagine their relief when Turnbull erased this mistake?

But this isn’t where the story ends. No, Turnbull really should have been careful what he wished for, and what deals he made with the devil to get what he wanted. All those relieved Abbott-mistake-makers who wanted Turnbull to undo their guilt are now slowly, yet surely, coming to the even more disappointing realisation that Turnbull hasn’t actually undone anything. Because nothing has substantially changed since Abbott was deposed. The car is still a lemon. The husband is still a dickhead. The budget is still a disaster. The NBN has been ruined. The ABC gagged. There is no legitimate climate policy. Social security is still on the chopping block. Gonski is a goner. There’s a risk of a GST rise. Super contributions might be frozen where they are. Australian born babies are being sent to a concentration camp on Nauru. Penalty rates could be a thing of the past. Unions are being bashed. Turnbull is willing to fight an election on zombie-like WorkChoices industrial relations policies. States are being bullied to raise taxes. There will be no Australian Republic under a PM who led the Republic movement. Marriage equality won’t happen. Therefore the decision Abbott voters made at the 2014 election is still haunting them.

These are the sort of emotions that don’t show up in polls. These are the sort of thought processes that people don’t speak out loud. Labor would do well to understand the voices-in-the-heads of the ashamed Abbott voters. The 2016 election is Labor’s best chance to give these voters an opportunity to properly reverse their mistakes and to get it right once and for all.


An Open Letter to the Cool Kids from a “Broken”

Dear Cool Kids

This is a letter from all the tweeps and bloggers you describe as ‘brokens’. I know how much you hate open letters so I chose this form of communication particularly to piss you off. Not that I have to try very hard to piss you off because clearly us ‘brokens’ piss you off just by our very existence.

Before I go on, I should explain this school-yard scenario to those unfamiliar.

My first experience of being called a ‘broken’ was this exchange on Twitter after I posted an article I wrote on the Labor Herald:

Dragonista Tweet

 

If this looks a bit like one writer making herself feel good by putting down another, that’s because it is. This is Paula Matthewson (@Drag0nista) laughing behind my back in the locker room because I’m not wearing trendy enough clothes. Or I care too much about the things I write about. Or I don’t earn money for writing. Or something. Note that since Paula is one of the meaner of the Cool Kids, she is being especially nasty-cool by misspelling broken as ‘broekens’. I’m guessing that’s because I’m extra-broken.

At the time, I was so uncool, I didn’t even know what language this Cool Kid was speaking, so I just assumed Paula had mis-typed some rude put-down and moved on. But then over the last week, I’ve seen the phrase ‘brokens’ popping up all over Twitter and it’s become a bit of a pile-on bully fest of the Cool Kids asserting their authority over those who dare use social media and blogging to write about topics the Cool Kids deem to be laughably uncool.

One of my favourite Tweeps, aptly named @geeksrulz, who, like me, comes from the clan of broken, has laid out the whole story eloquently here. The reason it’s funny he’s done it Buzzfeed style is because Mark Di Stefano, political reporter from Buzzfeed, one of the chief Cool Kids, ignited much of the ‘broken’ sledging with this tweet:

Mark Di Stefano tweet

If you’re a little confused by now about how Mark Di Stefano, who is ridiculed by the Coolest of the Cool Kids in the mainstream media, came to be chief bully-boy, you only have to remember back to year 9 when the kid that was picked on the most had a growth spurt over Summer and went to the gym and got muscly and came back as the bully-from-hell due to his misguided belief that to stop being bullied one must become a bully.

Leaving out of Mark’s list ‘Schapelle truthers’, which was only put in there for extra-ridicule, it should beggar belief that a so-called political journalist, albeit using a new form of media in Buzzfeed list form, but journalist nevertheless, would laugh at people who write about, discuss and generally care about newsworthy stories such as Ashbygate and the NBN story from this week, which independent news site New Matilda expertly delivered.

What Mark is basically saying on behalf of the Cool Kids, is that stories about a plot to topple a government and to destroy the career of an elected MP and Speaker, and another story about our public broadcaster directing a tech journalist not to publish a piece critical of a potential future Liberal government’s NBN policy due to political pressure, is not the type of journalism that proper journalists like him are interested in. And so when the journalistic void this attitude creates is filled by independent writers, and discussed by independent voices on social media, like paying out the kids who are nerdy enough to do their maths homework and actually care about passing high-school, there is something wrong with the void-filling brokens. Sadly this is not unbelievable because it’s oh so typical of the way our media operates.

The good news for the brokens, and the bad news for the Cool Kids, is the brokens are going to be on the right side of history in this Twitter-feud. I don’t just mean that we’re on the right side of history because anyone who is working in the public interest, whether for money or just because they can, is doing the right thing. I also mean that we brokens are the Uber drivers taking over the taxi industry because the taxi drivers have been offering a bad service with poor air-conditioning and not letting us choose the radio station for too long. Consumers of media don’t have to put up with taxi drivers who don’t turn up because there are us brokens offering them the information they need, disseminated for free over the internet and accessible by everyone.

Remember when the Geek from highschool turned up at the 10 year reunion with a better career than the Cool Kids who used to laugh at her behind the bike sheds? Laugh all you like Cool Kids. It’s water off a duck’s back to us brokens. Never has it been so cool to be so broken.

Yours sincerely.
Victoria Rollison


The WorkChoices Zombie

Bring It OnLet’s put aside the irony of a Liberal government, the preacher of the ills of ‘big government’, spending $45 million to reach its expensive Royal Commission tentacles into the operation of trade unions. Let’s put aside the obvious political nature of such a witch-hunt, designed to reduce the power of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers, a seek and destroy mission with the pincer-movement aim of a) benefiting employers at the big end of town, b) reducing unions’ capacity to contribute funds to Labor election campaigns and c) to discredit Labor MPs with union backgrounds. For now, putting these contradictions and political trickery aside, which are so wholly obvious to us but strangely not apparently obvious nor interesting to commentators in the mainstream media, let’s instead look at the Trade Union Royal Commission’s findings in relation to the lives of those people the commission paradoxically claim to represent the interests of; workers.

Using my own situation as a worker and union member as a representative case study, I note with alarm that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has proclaimed the findings of the Trade Union Royal Commission (TURC) as justification to fight an election over industrial relations. Clearly Turnbull thinks that there is a large enough problem in the trade union movement, a movement just as separate to the operations of government as a private company, that he’s pushing this problem to the top of his government’s agenda. The handful of bogey-man union officials who have been cited in the TURC findings as having acted not in the best interest of workers, are now the government’s enemy number one. As a union member, I don’t like to hear about my union funds being used to fund union officials’ extravagant lifestyles, nor do I appreciate reports of criminal activity, which appear to be almost entirely confined to rogue elements in construction unions. But, as a worker and a member of a young family, a woman, a parent to a young child who has childcare and then her whole education in front of her followed by a job search, a mortgage holder, a South Australian, a buyer of groceries, a daughter of aging parents, a wife to a husband who works in the manufacturing industry and a member of a society experiencing the scary and increasingly apparent effects of climate change, I must admit, the conduct of a few dodgy union officials in industries I don’t work in, whose conduct hasn’t been proven to adversely impact the conditions of workers they represent, is about as high on my list of ‘what is the government doing about this?’ priorities as the fate of Johnny Depp’s girlfriend’s court case over the illegal entry of small dogs.

And even if I did care deeply about the conduct of some dodgy union officials in the construction industry (which I don’t), I care a thousand times more deeply about those union officials having the freedom to do their job to help safeguard the safety of workers on construction sites. I’m pleased there are union officials stopping work when they see risks to workers, because it’s blatantly clear that if the union officials didn’t care, no one would. This is because it’s obvious that many construction employers care far more about the speed of their profit making than they do the safety and wellbeing of their employees. So if it wasn’t for the unions stepping in to insist on safety, far more accidents and deaths would occur. I would have thought a responsible government would be more concerned about safety on construction sites than the isolated actions of a few bad apple unionists. Especially after that very same government were so upset about the deaths of four insulation installers that they held a Royal Commission into a government program that funded the private companies whose unsafe work practices led to the tragic deaths of workers. Another Royal Commission aimed at hurting the Labor Party; do you see a pattern forming here?

I notice a day after the release of the TURC findings, the ABC News Radio poll asking ‘In your experience, are unions riddled with ‘deep-seated’ and ‘widespread’ misconduct?’, after 3,466 votes have been cast, found 74% said ‘no’.

Web Poll Unions TURC

This result suggests I’m not alone in my perception of the TURC findings as more of a political statement than the experience of union members.

As a worker, it would be wholly irrational for me to congratulate, or indeed vote for a government vowing to smash the power of unions. As a worker in an economy with stagnant wage growth, it would be counterproductive for me to encourage my government to give employers, who already hold an elephant-on-a-seesaw-unequal position of power in the Goliath-capital battle with David-the-workers, any more power to define my working conditions. Because let’s face it, not every employer wants to pay the minimum wage, without penalty rates, minimum entitlements and no chance of a pay rise. But enough employers do (take a look at 7-eleven) so that the entire wage structure of the country would be pulled down without unions pushing back against the floodgates. When former PM Tony Abbott said WorkChoices was dead-buried-and-cremated, workers always knew that it would only take a second-term Liberal government 5 minutes to resurrect the WorkChoices zombie from the grave; a zombie who’s bite is fatal to workers’ rights.

Therefore, if Turnbull wants to play this game and if he is really serious that dodgy union officials are the biggest threat facing our country, and his highest agenda item in an election, I echo Bill Shorten’s words on hearing Turnbull’s plans: BRING IT ON. And so say all of us.

This post was originally published at John Menadue – Pearls and IrritationsJohnMenadue.com/blog


An Open Letter to Malcolm Turnbull

Primed MinisterDear Malcolm Turnbull

As we head into 2016, many people are reflecting on the year that has passed. But I’ve had enough of looking back at 2015, so instead I’m looking ahead. And while I do this, I just wanted to check with you if you’re sure about what you said about it never being a more exciting time to be Australian? I’ll admit now, I don’t feel excited about our future. I feel a sense of trepidation and doubt. Just like your government told me to.

To give you some context, I am a 34 year old with a husband and one child. My husband and I have careers that we enjoy, a comfortable home and a great lifestyle. We have all the ingredients for this exciting time you keep harping on about. But what is missing is optimism about the future. I don’t think I’m alone amongst my generation in my sense of doom and gloom about what the future holds for us. But can you really blame us after the last 7 years we’ve had? Let’s have a look at what might have dented the optimism of Australia’s young families over the last few years so you’ll understand why we’re struggling with understanding why on earth you think we should be excited.

Just as our careers were being established, the Global Financial Crisis hit. We were lucky enough to live in a country with a government at the time who acted quickly to avert disaster, and a recession was avoided. The rest of the world weren’t so lucky. Of course world financial crises are bad for everyone in a globalised market; it’s hard to think of many industries in Australia who didn’t take a hit. Nevertheless, our economy chugged along and didn’t go backwards, and we avoided devastating unemployment and its associated social problems far better than most other developed economies. So why didn’t we feel excited? I’ll tell you why. It’s because your Liberal Party – while in opposition and in government – turned Australia’s death-defying-recession-avoiding stimulus package into a bad thing for the economy and told everyone that the Labor government were wrong for doing it. And guess what? When you tell everyone the economy is ruined and that debt and deficit monsters are hiding under the bed and that the country is going to-hell-in-a-handbasket because we spent money saving the economy from ruin, guess how everyone feels when they’ve seen this all on the news every day for 7 years? Everyone feels a bit nervous! And then what happens? The economy feels a bit nervous and there is no optimism. See how your party’s political games cost this country 7 years of hope and optimism?

So now you’re here, telling us to be happy, to be excited, to get out there and invest in new businesses and to be entrepreneurs and to create the future jobs and to make a bright future for ourselves. But how are we meant to do this when you’ve spent all this time telling us the economy is a debt-ridden, risky, job-less mess? How are we meant to do this when you and your Liberal mates have turned this economy into a debt-ridden, risky, job-less mess? Hardly any of us have had a proper pay rise in 7 years and house prices are just getting more and more unobtainable on our stagnant wages. Jobs are disappearing too, even in new industries that were just getting started, like in the renewable energy sector. Do you see how your political games have hurt our country and how throwing around a few phrases about ‘exciting times’ is about as little too late as thinking you can eat a birthday cake after it’s already been flushed down a toilet?

But it’s not only the economy we’ve all been told is a big, scary, mess, thereby having any optimism and confidence kicked out of us. It is climate change too. Sorry to have to remind you again, but you’re the Prime Minister so you can do something about climate change now. You’re not just a white-anting, back-stabbing, sniggering-behind-Abbott’s-back never-crossed-the-floor-and-therefore-just-as-responsible-for-this-mess-of-a-government-as-the-rest-of-the-bastards Minister in the Abbott government anymore. You’re the new Prime Minister in the Abbott-Turnbull government. Adelaide is having the earliest, hottest December heatwave we’ve ever had, and across the world there is evidence of climate change expressing itself in natural disasters everywhere. Our generation, who were told by your government that the Carbon Price was an unnecessary extravagance the economy couldn’t afford, is now really scared by the knowledge that even with agreement in Paris, it is likely too late to undo a lot of the damage inaction by governments like yours has caused. What’s exciting about that?

And then of course we have the social policies your government is busily being very anti-social about. Eating away at universal healthcare. Taking family tax benefits from families, paid parental leave from new mothers, making it harder for the poorest in society to make ends meet. And we’re told we can never retire because the government piggy bank won’t have any money in it for us once the baby boomer generation has been cared for well into their 90s. And what about tax policies – when you could be going after the richest of the richest companies to pay only what they legally should be paying, but you refuse to do that and instead are driving up our cost of living by ‘talking about’ increasing the GST. We know you’re going to do it so just get it over and done with already. The impact of that decision on consumer confidence (and by consumer I mean everyone who lives here), will be another dagger in the heart of the economy.

I have absolutely no doubt it’s always been a very exciting time to be Malcolm Turnbull with your little white fluffy dogs in your harbour side mansion. But ‘excited’ is not a word I would use to describe the overarching vibe of my generation who has been pummelled by your political party for political purposes for far too long. In fact, the only thing that excites me about the future in 2016 is the chance to vote you and your excitement-killing government out with you. That is something to be optimistic about.

Yours Sincerely
Victoria Rollison


A climate of being held to account

Ditch the WitchWasn’t it brilliant to wake up to the news of a global deal to address climate change? This is cause for celebration. We have a goal and the world is working towards it. I feel proud to be part of a planet ready to battle this problem together. My six month old daughter will be told about this day when she is older; an important moment in history; the moment we, as a humanity, decided to help each other. This is the good news.

The bad news is, as usual, Australia’s Liberal National government who, despite the fact they seem to be wanting to take credit for being part of this deal, despite Julie Bishop’s smiling face being plastered all over the positive news stories about the Paris conference, are actually the exact opposite of helpful. This deal was done despite Australia’s hindrance of pathetic climate change Direct Action bullshit. This deal was done despite Australia being an early adopter of a Carbon Price, a world leader, and then reversing this action by becoming the world first in destroying it. If the Paris conference was a meeting of vegetarians, Australia is in the awkward position of having brought a lamb roast. A burned, tough on the teeth, inedible lamb roast that not even the dog is interested in picking out of the bin.

So sit down Malcolm Turnbull. You’re not part of the standing ovation welcoming this climate deal. Sit down Julie Bishop and go away Greg Hunt. You’re all an embarrassment. After all the talk about innovation and technological advances and new economy, it’s time you were held to account for the crap you have pulled on Australia and in turn, the world.

Don’t pretend your government isn’t chocked full of climate change deniers. Don’t pretend your government wasn’t elected on a platform of lies about carbon pricing. Remember how many times we heard ‘Axe the Tax’ out of the mouth of your previous leader, Tony Abbott? Remember the anti-carbon price rallies, where Abbott stood in front of ‘Ditch the Witch’ signs, where your whole party told the Australian public that Gillard had done the wrong thing in pricing carbon, when in fact she had done exactly the right thing? And don’t forget Abbott actually won the leadership of your party back during the Emissions Trading Scheme policy debate. We all know the deniers run your party, run your government and no fuzzy language from Turnbull about the need for action is going to change the history of what your government has actually done.

Your government, your cheer-squad in the Murdoch Press, your donors in the fossil fuel industries are part of the reason it’s taken so long for the world to reach agreement. We’re not going to let you forget this. You took us backwards. You delayed action. This is your legacy. No one should be congratulating you now.

So what’s going to happen now that there is an agreement? Firstly, you’re not going to get away with pretending Direct Action is going to make any difference to Australia’s carbon emissions. The world is watching and will be very keen to scrutinise the results of this crap, expensive waste of space policy in a way that Australia’s own media have been totally incapable of doing. In fact, there is a very good argument that the only way we’re going to meet our obligations from the Paris agreement is to reinstate a Carbon Price. So how that’s going to work? I’ll tell you how. You’re going to have to suck it up and admit to the Australian people that you misled them when you said the Carbon Price was bad for the economy. You are going to have to suck it up and admit Abbott, and everyone in his party who agreed with him and never crossed the floor to stop him destroying the Carbon Price, lied when they said the Carbon Price was bad for Australia. It’s not going to be easy, but you’re going to have to do it. The world is going to force you to do it.

So finally, finally today we have someone holding you to account. Australia’s media might think the sun shines out of the Turnbull government’s collective you-know-where and collectively refuse to point out the contradictory position Direct Action holds against the Paris agreement. But who cares about Australia’s pathetic media when we have a world agreement. Flaff all you like Turnbull. You’re being held to account. You’re being held to account by the world. You might think you’re Teflon Turnbull but you’re no longer Mr-smooth. And I can’t wait to see the mud finally stick.


The same people

This is one of the FB posts Clementine Ford put on her blog to display the type of cyberviolence she endures.

This is one of comments Clementine Ford put on her blog to display the type of cyberviolence she endures.

Just in the past week, I’ve been upset about the behaviour of three groups of people. After watching Sarah Ferguson’s harrowing investigation into Australia’s domestic violence epidemic, Hitting Home, I am upset at the hundreds of thousands of Australian men who are abusing their partners and families. As I wrote last week, I am also upset with the racist and bigoted people who preach hatred in the streets under the anti-Islamic banner of Reclaim Australia. And over the last two days, my outrage has been directed at the perpetrators of ‘cyberviolence’, as called out by Clementine Ford and Van Badham. While thinking about these groups, and wondering to myself ‘who on earth are these people?’, it suddenly struck me. Surely there is an overlap? Surely there are people who belong to all three groups?

Violence Venn Diagram

The more I thought about it, the more real this Venn diagram became. Perhaps the overlap is bigger than I imagine.

All these groups share common characteristics. None of them are ‘decent’ people. The problem with concepts like ‘decent’ is that they are defined by the shared cultural values of a society, and if society’s expectations of decency aren’t very high, it’s unsurprising that there is little value placed on the expectation of people acting decently. For instance, if we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t do the decent thing of calling out groups like Reclaim Australia, we, as a society, are tolerating this type of indecent behaviour. If we have a government who doesn’t bat an eyelid at children being raped in government detention centres, decency is something from a bygone era. Another example is the Navy’s decision to give Elliot Coulson, a perpetrator of domestic violence who stalked and killed his girlfriend before killing himself, a military funeral (which they’ve belatedly apologised for). And then we have the mainstream media, which is peppered with PhotoShopping Daily Telegraphs and angry shock jocks and columnists who, through their own indecency, give society a free-pass to their shared indecency. So our society isn’t decent, and in turn the members of that society aren’t decent. This is not rocket science.

Another shared feature of these groups is that they all blame their victims for their anti-social and violent behaviour; it’s their wife’s fault for making them angry, or their girlfriend has lied about being hit, or they blame Islamic people for making them hateful towards them, and they blame the Clems and Vans of the world for daring to call them out and to have opinions they disagree with. Nothing is ever their fault. They take no responsibility for anything. And why would they take responsibility when they’re not decent people and there’s never been any consequences in the past? No one has ever expected them to be decent, nor called them out when they aren’t. They even have a government who fights to defend their right to be bigots, their right to be discriminatory, and then joins in with them when they take up this right. But rights have responsibilities. Or so I was brought up to believe. Yet when you scroll the Facebook accounts of the men who are cyber-violent, such as those abusing Clementine Ford, or Twitter accounts of members of Reclaim Australia, it’s incredible to realise these people have absolutely no shame in saying the most vile, hateful, nasty and even criminal things (yes, death threats are a criminal offence), with their real names on their profiles, for all their friends and family (and employers!) to see. So not only are these people indecent, they are shouting their indecency from the rooftops as a proud part of their identities.

If I am right (and I suspect I am) that there is an overlap, and therefore a slippery slope between public indecency and physical violence, shouldn’t we, as a society, be treating any evidence of hate, bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexism as a red-flag that this person is dangerous? I remember being told once that children who are violent towards animals often grow up to be violent towards humans. So if a teenage boy is abusing women on his Facebook page at age 16, might he, without any intervention, be the very same person who will control or bash his girlfriend, his wife, his children, and join in violent hate rallies against peace-loving Australians, just because he thinks this is his right? As suggested by the eloquent Ken Lay, Former Victorian Police chief commissioner, it’s time for us, as a society, to stop justifying bad behaviour as ‘boys will be boys’. And perhaps it is also time to reassess what counts as ‘decent’ in our society and hold everyone up to this expectation before our civilisation becomes completely uncivil. Perhaps it’s time to take seriously the warning signs that we have a problem, and intervene before more people get hurt, or indeed, killed.


An Open Letter to Reclaim Australia

ReclaimAustraliaRallyDear Reclaim Australia,

Out of genuine curiosity, I visited your website to find out what this ‘Reclaim Australia’ malarkey is all about. You all seem to be very worked up, so I’m hoping this letter lets you off the hook and gives you your weekends and evenings back to enjoy this great country we live in, free of hatred and bitterness. You’re welcome.

First of all, the name of your movement is a problem. ‘Reclaim’ is defined as ‘to get back (something that was lost or taken away)’. You say you want to ‘reclaim Australia’, so I can only assume that you think you have lost Australia, or Australia has been taken from you and that you want to get it back. From my experience of the English language, in order to get something back, that something would have to belong to you in the first place. So are you saying you own Australia? I hope you’re not, because I find it very upsetting to think my country is owned by anyone. I live in a free democratic society. It is not owned by you. It does not belong to the government. UK’s Royal Family don’t own Australia. The fact is, Australia doesn’t belong to anyone. Because everyone who lives in Australia belongs to it. Every single person. Those born here. Those who used to live somewhere else and now live here. Every Australian from every age group, gender, religion, cultural background, occupation, absolutely everyone who calls Australia home for a long time or a short time, everyone who goes to bed each night and wakes up each morning in Australia, belongs to Australia. Not the other way around. I hope you understand this important distinction. There is no way to reclaim something that doesn’t belong to you, so therefore there is no logical way to reclaim Australia. I’m glad we’ve cleared this up.

Another mistake you seem to have made in revving up fear, anger and hatred towards your fellow Australians, presumably because you are scared of anyone who is not like you, and of people who experience Australia differently than you do, is to accuse one particular group of Australians of taking Australia away from you. I find this idea ridiculous. If you don’t like the religion of Islam, don’t be Islamic. If you don’t like Islamic cultural practices, don’t practice them. If you don’t like Islamic people, leave them alone. They’re not hurting you, so why are you attacking them?

I don’t like seafood so I don’t eat seafood. Everyone else in my family likes seafood, and when they are enjoying their seafood, it doesn’t upset me because I have chosen to eat something else instead, such as chicken. I don’t rally against their prawns. I don’t throw their whiting at the wall in anger and make placards and whip up fellow non-seafood-eaters into a frenzy, organising hate rallies and unleashing gangs of face-tattooed-thugs to tell seafood eaters they are taking something from me that wasn’t mine in the first place.

Not that it’s any of your business, but I happen to be an atheist and have zero interest in any religion. But just like I don’t care if my family eats seafood, I don’t care if the family next door goes to church and worships a God I happen to believe doesn’t exist. I don’t care if the family next door goes to a Mosque and worships a different God I happen to believe doesn’t exist. Why don’t I care? Because other people’s seafood eating, and religious worship has no impact on my life and is therefore none of my business.

In this article a Reclaim Australia organiser, John Oliver, is quoted as saying ‘the vast majority of Reclaim supporters … are ordinary mums and dads’. If by ordinary, you mean racist, sure, they’re ordinary. In fact Islam isn’t a race but you’re still all racists and bigots and yes, I do call a spade a ‘spade’. I don’t like the idea of ‘mums and dads’ behaving in this way, taking their children to hate rallies, spreading lies about peaceful Australia loving Islamic Australians, bringing up children to fear and reject people who are different rather than embracing diversity and enjoying the cultural benefits of a multicultural and therefore, interesting, society. But really, if you want to be a racist bigot, that’s your business. I just wish you wouldn’t parade it around the streets where my family and friends are frightened by it.

Reclaim Australia is not about defending, in your words, ‘Aussies and Christianity, our holidays and celebrations, Christmas and Easter and ANZAC day’ as you may have noticed that these things are all safe and well and continuing as they always have without you needing to help them in any way. Reclaim Australia is not about ridding Australia, in your words, of ‘the ways of Islam’, including cultural considerations, Halal, forced segregation, female genital mutilation (which by the way also happens in Christian cultures), Sex Trafficking (also not an ‘Islamic’ problem) and wife beating (which you might have noticed is at epidemic proportions across all demographics in Australia, why don’t you rally against that?). Your website says ‘They have no place here in Australia’ and it’s clear by ‘they’ you mean anyone who is not white like you. But you’re wrong about this. All Australians belong to Australia. What there really is no place for is racism and bigotry, hate, violence and your scary, angry, unhinged and often armed brand of white-supremacy-extremism.

Frankly, the very thought of your organisation existing, and people who I possibly stand next to at the supermarket, and drive with on the roads, and maybe even live nearby, supporting your cause is terrifying. Terror. Terrorism. See what you’re doing? You’re terrorising Australia. If that’s what you set out to do, then *fist pump*, well done, you’ve achieved it. If you feel so sad that you don’t ‘belong’ in Australia anymore that you need to organise hate rallies against Australian society on our previously peaceful streets, maybe it is time you considered belonging somewhere else. Maybe you should leave Australia in peace.

Yours sincerely
Victoria Rollison


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