I am 47 year old woman in my first semester of a law degree.
I am also a mother of an 11 year old.
The sole reason I study law is to do more to help humanity stop killing itself.
I don’t normally take much notice of politics, which has utterly failed humanity for quite some time. Praying for a version of Jacinda Arden to appear in Australian politics hasn’t done much good as yet.
Then I noticed the video of “An emotional Bill Shorten…” posted by The Guardian.
I witnessed you speak passionately in defence of your mother, who in her 40’s started a law degree.
You spoke from your heart. You spoke like that because you spoke of real love and compassion. And an authentic understanding of equality between the sexes.
This is rare as hen’s teeth in Australian politics these days.
That is what I was hoping to see, after witnessing you earlier clamming up in a TV interview after being asked a question about redistributing money form the wealthy to the poor (not those exact words), when you could have said “Yes!” with confidence, integrity and courage. Because that is exactly what a strong leader would do to ensure the wellbeing of all its people, not just the top earning few.
What I saw in your speech about your mother was the seedling of a leader.
And I invite you to pour water and shine sunlight on that seedling.
In times of crisis, we need heroes.
And we are decidedly in a crisis.
Be that hero, Bill Shorten.
Allow yourself to speak with integrity on matters of climate change, the way you spoke with integrity about your mother.
Allow yourself to set a new rhetoric and a new standard in Australian politics in which integrity and heart, compassion and empathy become the new norm.
As an artist, I was invited to make art by the Bob Brown Foundation in the Tarkine forest.
I did that for two years.
Then I also camped at Sumac to help prevent a road being put in to destroy yet more pristine ancient forest from more logging.
Bill, it breaks my heart, to know that humans are clearing forests across Australia, at a time when we need more trees, not less.
It breaks my heart, that as I write, now, many are forced to leave their homes and families to camp outside sacred, old Aboriginal birthing trees, to try to protect them from being demolished by a (Labour Government sanctioned) freeway.
It breaks my heart that so much of previously forested land is empty, shaved of its forests, and it could be regenerated to help reduce climate catastrophe.
It breaks my heart that more coal is being mined and that existing coal mines and power plants are not closed down and replace with renewables.
It breaks my heart that my son is potentially being denied a future and humanity are on the extinction list due to its own stupidity.
Please Bill, be that hero that takes Australia down a radical path, yes radical, because that is the kind of action we need, to a path of Human Survival!
You spoke of your admiration for your mother.
Speak with that admiration for Mother Earth.
I know you have a ‘climate policy’ and the coalition does not.
This is a good start.
Water and shine sun on that seedling, with courage and conviction.
You can do this.
I have seen evidence of that in the video of you showing your heart.
A true leader speaks from the heart, Bill, about matters of priority.
And there is a clear priority, right now, in this election to speak to the climate emergency.
The children are taking lead!
I am a Green voter (even though I don’t like their views on non-Western medicine) because up until now there hasn’t been any indication that either Labour or Liberal have taken any care to notice the importance of our planet.
I see on your website, you have promised, when elected to create new Environment Laws. That’s good news.
But they need to be powerful, not weak.
They need to be brave new laws, which ensure Australia is at the forefront of climate action rather than moving in the opposite direction as we currently are, lead by climate change deniers.
I want to be a part of the drafting of those laws.
As a law student, engaged in the study purely to ensure something like this is in place, so that people can be at home with their kids rather than needing to protest in front of a birthing tree, in a proposed logging coupe or in front of a coal train.
We need to use those laws to decidedly put an end to the ability of anyone to destroy the biodiversity, water, air, soil and ecosystem we all rely on.
You’ll need to be ambitious and strong with this.
Include people such as myself by inviting commenting on the laws before they are passed.
Bill, how can you love your mother, yet not love humanity’s mother (the planet who sustains us)?
Ultimately the saying “we can’t eat money” is so apt here.
It doesn’t matter how much money we have if we don’t have clean air, clean soil and clean water.
We cannot have those three essentials if more species become extinct, if more forests are shredded (for a financial loss mind you), if we have more fracking, coal and off shore oil drilling… the list goes on.
On my final note we need to show Aboriginal Australia we are prepared to authentically and with heart, acknowledge ALL the wrongs that have been done to them. In a speech. From the heart of a politician who can show empathy. As well as through action and policy such as bringing Aboriginal elders and young professionals in to Government and ‘solving climate change’ discussions.
Fund programs immediately which empower reliable people to plan and enact these topics:
1. Power generation:
Stop using dirty and destructive methods to produce power.
Replace ALL of those with safe renewables by 2025.
(See article: “‘Political watershed’ as 19 countries pledge to phase out coal”).
2. Air pollution:
Stop allowing petrol, diesel and gas vehicles to use the road.
Act for the retrofitting or replacement of ‘dirty’ cars, with un-polluting technology.
(See article: “Amsterdam to ban petrol and diesel cars and motorbikes by 2030.”)
Scrap the North-East Link project and step up public transport.
Subsidise electric bikes and tax polluting vehicles… etc.
Ban not only plastic bags, but plastic straws and so on.
Be decisive and strong on this. Create alternatives.
4. Halting deforestation:
Immediate ban on clear fell logging in any forest other than an existing plantation.
There is plenty of work for all loggers to work in plantation logging.
Selective timber harvesting ought be considered for various timbers but only in regenerated forests, not ancient, old growth forests.
Stop logging once and for all, in all old growth forests. This is essential for helping to reduce climate change and also will save the tax payer money as existing logging regimes are subsidised enormously by the government, (not only are we expected to lose our forests, which take thousands of years to establish, but we are expected to pay for it too).
5. Reforesting cleared land:
Crown land, private land, all land, farmed or not, can be regenerated and reforested.
Farms with cattle, would serve its cattle better by adding more trees, as well as adopting permaculture principles which would enhance the health of the soil.
A “Re-tree Australia” program could set up traveling camps across the country to do this.
Major property owners could be funded to improve their soils and plant trees.
This will bring the temperature down, bring rainwater back in to the rivers and soils.
This is one of the most important elements of climate rescue (and in urban areas, trees need to be planted over all concreted areas such as car parks)
6. Addressing poor farming practices:
Standard vegetable and fruit growing practices are polluting our rivers and stomachs.
Round Up and other pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc are major health hazards.
They not only end up on the food and in our stomachs causing cancer and other health issues, but they also end up in our rivers and soils.
Educating all farmers of better practices and assisting their move to non-chemical reliance farming is not only possible, financially sound and beneficial to the farmer, it is essential to reducing the poisoning of the planet and our selves, which is currently occurring.
Sure, keep funding cancer programs, but look at how you’ll need less and less for that, when you fix up the poison that is causing it (including fixing air pollution in point 2.)
7. Educate Australia about who they are voting for:
The practice of politicians using public money to fund posters of themselves across the streets and flyers in the letterboxes (usually merely outlining negative propaganda about the opponent) is unethical and counterproductive.
All political parties ought to have an even playing field.
A system needs to be put in place, such as an unbiased website, and also a poster at each polling booth, with an equal amount of information (1 x A4 page for instance) about the policies of each party.
This would ensure true democracy in that each person entering the polling booth has the capacity to know who they are voting for.
Currently, most parties are not known about or understood.
Also, education in schools, from Primary level up, needs to have mandatory time devoted to giving students a clear understanding of the voting system, the political system and the way government works, not just from a general framework perspective, but in a detailed practical way to ensure we all are empowered with the knowledge of the way voting works.
This is the crux of democracy - that we can vote - and it is currently a farce due to the lack of education of the majority of voters which is not their fault. In a time where information is easier than ever to get, it is still a blur. It is still chaos. And it is still swathed in meaningless derisive propaganda from parties about each other. We don’t need this. We need the facts of the policies and the values each party stands for. We need it easily accessible. Not dependent on media or posters or flyers. (We don't need to see the faces of politicians enlarged 100 times human size, nor at all.) But as a mandatory component of the voting system, it ought to be provided on a website and at the polling booth. If anything is to come to our letterboxes or doors, it is a small booklet, designed to display without bias, all relevant parties’ policies and values, to the public. Equally.
Redistribution of wealth:
The Robin Hood of current world politics needs to be found. We are in a massive crisis of wealth being held by a small few, whilst house prices and living costs escalate to leave many homeless and struggling.
Power distribution is part of this.
You can valiantly solve this by openly and authentically ensuring the rich are taxed appropriately.
We all pay tax every single time we purchase something through the GST so even those unemployed are paying tax just by living.
A basic income ought to be given to all. Watch SBS on demand “Free money: The Case for Basic Income”. Martin Luther King advocated for it. It is essential to unlink survival and work. People will work even if they have their basic needs met.
It breaks my heart, Bill, as after spending years working in Aboriginal communities, not only do I miss them, I grieve for the land I live on, being stripped of the qualities they tended to, they looked after, for many, many thousands of years and which we destroyed in a comparative millisecond.
What we, as a nation have become, in relation to the ostrich with its head in the sand, around our genocidal history, is deeply ingrained in our problems as a whole.
We cannot, move forward, with pride, as a whole country, whilst continuing to pretend ‘it didn’t happen’.
We must, have a leader, such as yourself, who is capable of speaking from their heart, to that which has made the country bleed.
This is about the spiritual and emotional health of the country.
This is what will improve Aboriginal health. The rest of us acknowledging what they have endured. We need to acknowledge the trauma of what they have experienced.
Here is a brief summary of some of it:
Denied the ability to sustain their families as they did before through harnessing sustainably resources
Denied access to much of the land which they are intimately connected to
Hunted down and shot, poisoned, hung and brutally killed on masse
Had their children stolen from them as well as their land
Been told they are not human.
Been told they are not Australian.
Were not allowed to vote until recently.
Were subject to rape, disease and the intentional stripping of their language and spiritual and cultural practices by “white Australia policies” and more.
The list goes on….
We live in a legal fiction - this land was not ‘terra nullius’ as we know and now recognise. We need to actively address this. A treaty may be part of this. But much more than that needs to occur.
Finally, and this is not an exhaustive list, we need to encourage and create a capacity for Aboriginal Australians, a program, which invites them and pays them, to help us get the earth repaired. For what we have done to their land, we have ultimately also destroyed for ourselves. Their wisdom is sorely needed now. And to hand some of the reigns to them, to help steer us back towards a healthier relationship with our planet, would be one of the greatest ways to repair the damage, and also help us actually repair the planet.
Be ambitious, be strong, be authentic:
What I saw you say when you spoke about your mother, was the beginnings of a leader who can do these strong things that this country is calling out for.
Don’t be afraid of speaking your heart.
Jacinda Arden isn’t. And she is loved worldwide for it.
Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King are loved beyond their own death, for it.
Be our country’s hero. Please.
So, in honour of your mother, of all mothers and of Mother Earth, Happy Mother’s Day Bill!
May you be inspired to be the great leader that Australia needs.