I’m a writer. That means I’m articulate, able to put complex ideas into words for my readers. A lot of you reading this are writers too. Some of you are also editors and publishers. We have abilities — in terms of communication — that aren’t available to most people.
We need to start using those abilities. We need to step up and help shape the political debate here in Australia. We need to take the important ideas that can save us from going down the American road, and put them into plain, easily-understood and easily-repeated words, and we need to get those words into the public eye. We are writers, publishers, and editors. This is exactly the kind of thing we’re supposed to be good at.
I have three children. Lately, I can’t sleep at night because I’m trying to imagine how they’re going to be educated in an Americanised Australia, built by Abbott. I’m trying to figure out what my children will do when they’re twenty-eight and they get retrenched. I’m trying to figure out how they’ll get decent health-care when they’re too old for our family insurance plan.
I’m awake at night, trying to figure out a future where my children live like Australians.
Here’s where I start. Please: help me out. There’s only one of me, but there are many of us, and we can get our words in front of the public if we work together.
Start with letters to the newspapers and magazine. Not just the big ones: I mean the small papers, the regional and neighbourhood sheets. If you know of a publication that might take a letter, give it a shot.
Here’s a pro-forma letter for you. The purpose of this letter is to reframe the Abbott budget in terms that are easy to share, and easy to understand. If we can put these words in front of the public, we can redirect the debate.
In America, universities charge what they want. Students wind up with massive debts that follow them for the rest of their lives. Tony Abbott wants Australian universities to charge what they like, and he wants to raise the interest on student loans.
In America, unemployment benefits are practically non-existent. America has the highest rate of homelessness in the Western world, and a frightening level of street crime. Tony Abbott is taking the unemployment safety net away from everyone under 30 years old.
In America, there is no free health care at all. Americans pay far more for health than any other developed nation, but they get much less for their money. Tony Abbott is trying to force Australians away from Medicare, adding extra costs at every level of a medical consultation.
America has a higher level of economic growth than Europe, but the profits and benefits of that economic growth go only to the richest of Americans, while the rest get nothing. Tony Abbott and his mates are already rich.
This isn’t a budget to save Australia. It’s a budget to turn us into America. Tony Abbott isn’t throwing you a life preserver. He’s keeping the boat, and cutting you loose.
Please: take ten minutes. Use your computer and the Internet. Email this letter to your local newspapers. Better still, print it and post it. Hell, print a dozen copies and glue them on telegraph poles. Leaflet your neighbourhood. Do anything it takes. Your children and mine can’t defend themselves from this attack. They’re depending on us.
The political battle lines are already drawn. We can’t do much to move our politicians at this stage. What we need to do is take back the public debate. We need our words on the streets, not Tony Abbott’s.