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My dear prime minister

By James Arvanitakis - posted Friday, 22 November 2013

Dear Prime Minister

To begin with, I would like to congratulate you on becoming the 28th Prime Minister of our nation.

As I describe myself as a 'progressive', our political compass would rarely overlap. Despite any political divide, I want to wish the best of luck in this challenging role as you represent all of us as well as future generations.


I recently read an article by News Limited columnist, Miranda Devine, accusing 'progressives' of 'hating' you. As is often the way with a number of conservative columnists, Ms Divine makes accusations that the progressive elements of our nation are full of bitterness.

Consequently, I wanted to write to you a list of the concerns that much of the population share that I believe cross the political divide. These issues are beyond 'left and right', but are fundamental for the long-term well being of our nation.

The first issue is asylum seekers and 'border control'. As has been well documented, Australia only receives a trickle of the world's asylum seekers – and despite the hysteria this causes, the vast majority are confirmed as genuine refugees. Despite this, there seems to be a general feeling amongst both major parties and a significant section of the population that supports the need to repel 'boats' at all costs.

While I disagree with the policy more generally because push factors are a more significant issue than pull factors, your chosen policy can still be pursued without demonising refugees: there is no need to use labels such as 'illegals' or 'queue jumpers'. Such terms misrepresent and inflame racial tensions within our community. If this is your policy, please pursue it without sacrificing the humanity of these desperate people.

The second issue is climate change. There is now no doubt that human induced climate change is a challenge for both future generations and us. There is also no doubt that a market mechanism is the most effective way to deal with the challenges ahead. By internalising the externality of carbon emissions, a price would provide both the market and industry the signals to innovate and move towards carbon-free solutions.

Combined with an industry policy, such a move can assist in restructure the economy for the century ahead. Such a move can be undertaken in parallel with the extractive industries and will lead to promoting advanced technological solutions particularly in manufacturing and industry. Without a price on carbon or an industry policy, we will eventually flounder and be left behind.


I understand that your election platform was to 'axe the tax', but this can only ever be a short-term solution that will eventually be reversed and ultimately will prove counter-productive to the national interest.

The third area related to 'gender equality'. Due to a number of unfortunate events, there appears to be a rising misogyny in our society. This is an unfortunate development and I would think that a number of strategies could be implemented to promote gender equality including the re-establishment of the 'office for the status of women' within the Prime Minister's Office and the promotion of the many talented women inside your party.

The fourth area must be both indigenous affairs and justice. Your passion in this area has been well documented but there seems to have been a gap between your desire to focus on this area and current priorities of your government. The tragic state of indigenous health in this country is an issue that can surely bring support across the political spectrum.

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About the Author

James Arvanitakis is based at the Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney, and is a fellow at the Centre for Policy Development.

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