So apparently I need to write about asylum seekers after all

I realise that the appropriate response to the news that the Australian Government plans to turn asylum seekers living in the community out onto the streets with no income is not exasperation, but rather horror, fury, or grief, but I have to say, exasperation was what I went with on reading the news yesterday.

I mean, is it too much to ask for the government to only be appalling on one front at a time?

Seriously, guys.  *Either* you get to destroy the Great Barrier Reef, *or* you can find new ways to pick on poor people, *or* you can waste $122 million on a divisive, non-binding postal survey about marriage equality which will do absolutely no good to anyone, *or* you can continue to pursue counterproductive policies that worsen the situation for indigenous Australians, *or* you can do horrible things to asylum seekers while calling the people who help them unAustralian.  But you have to choose.  You don’t get to do all of them.  It’s not fair, and it’s just being greedy.  What are the other politicians going to do when they want to be terrible, if you’ve already done everything?

You need to learn to share.  Pick one horrible cause, and leave the others for someone else to play with.

Actually, no, don’t pick one horrible cause.  Pick none of them.  All of those things are disgusting, and I can’t honestly believe that everyone in the Coalition is as awful as those policies make them sound. There must be someone in there with a heart, surely…

Anyway, for me, the five stages of dealing with politics are exasperation, anger, depression, writing letters to politicians, and blog posts.  I’ve done the first four, so here we are with number five.

Here are a couple of quotes from the letter that was apparently sent to asylum seekers:

“You will be expected to support yourself in the community until departing Australia… If you cannot find work to support yourself in Australia you will need to return to a regional processing country or any country where you have a right of residence.

“From Monday 28 August you will need to find money each week for your own accommodation costs. From this date, you will also be responsible for all your other living costs like food, clothing and transport. You are expected to sign the Code of Behaviour when you are released into the Australian community. The Code of Behaviour outlines how you are to behave in the community.”

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Marriage Equality letters

I’ve actually been ill today, so I didn’t manage to write as many letters as I meant to.  I’m hoping to do a bit of blitz of Senators tomorrow, but I have covered some of the main suspects at least.  I understand that the Plebiscite is being debated in Parliament this week, possibly even this evening, so I went with emails rather than postal letters this time.

As usual, having written the letters, I find them entirely inadequate, but I’m posting them here for two reasons.  Well, one reason, with two parts.  The reason is, of course, that I’m hoping some of you will also feel inclined to write to your politicians, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  Feel free to use these as a starting point – it’s easier to fix a bad letter than to write one from scratch, in my experience.

It’s also sometimes hard to decide that a letter is good enough to send, and that’s the other reason I’m posting these.  I want to write the perfect letter, which will cause politicians to realise, at last, that they have made a terrible mistake and should be doing things differently (ie, my way…).  In the real world, that’s not going to happen.  Or at least, not through me – I am definitely not that eloquent.  But at least part of this is a numbers game.  A letter that does not perfectly express what you want to say is still a letter in someone’s inbox, reminding them that another one of their constituents opposes the plebiscite.  And you never know – your letter of support to a politician who is doing the write thing may be the encouragement they need, or may provide them with an argument or phrase that they hadn’t thought of and can use to sway others.  But even if it doesn’t, every little bit helps.

You can find contact lists for all Senators and MPs at this link.  These include phone numbers, postal and email addresses, so pick the medium of your choice and go for it.

If letters are too hard write now, the ALP has a campagin ‘It’s Time for Marriage Equality‘, which is half petition, half tweet, and certainly worth a look.  The Greens have a similar campaign.  And Australian Marriage Equality have all sorts of actions you can take, depending on your time, energy and financial resources.

And if you just need a break from all of this, here’s a link I found earlier when I was looking (unsuccessfully) for some information about my local Member.  It’s the 404 page for The Australian‘s National Affairs section, and it is absolutely hilarious.  Enjoy!

Letters below the cut…

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Bothering politicians about Abyan and Nauru

What are lunch breaks for if not to ring the Prime Minister’s office and mumble in a somewhat tongue-tied fashion about the need to bring Abyan back to Australia for treatment?

Well, one thing they are for is letter-writing!  As is my usual habit, a copy of the email I just sent to the PM is below the cut.  It is not perfect, and yours doesn’t have to be perfect, either.

The important thing, if this is something you care about, is to write *something*.  Keep it polite, and probably try to be briefer than me because I always write way too much, which may not be the best way to get read.  But the more people who write, or who ring, or who tweet, however incoherently, the louder the message. And feel free to borrow any phrasing that appeals to you from what I’ve written.  That’s the other purpose of putting this letter here.

I’ll write to Peter Dutton, Bill Shorten and Richard Marles (Shadow Minister for Immigration) after work, and if their letters are significantly different, I’ll post them below.

Edited to add: My friend P wrote a really excellent letter to both Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton, very different to mine, and considerably better worded, in my opinion!.  She has given me permission to post it below as another handy example.  I am also adding a link to a very thoughtful article by Julian Burnside on how to write to MPs.  He mentions several things that would never have occurred to me, and is collecting replies – and non-replies – from MPs.  Definitely a strategy to consider.

Handy contact details:

Malcolm Turnbull – (02) 6277 7700; malcolm.turnbull.mp@aph.gov.au ; @TurnbullMalcolm
Peter Dutton – (02) 6277 7860 or (07) 3205 9977; minister@border.gov.au ; @PeterDutton_MP
Bill Shorten – (02) 6277 4022 or (03) 9326 1300; Bill.Shorten.MP@aph.gov.au; @billshortenmp
Richard Marles – (03) 5221 3033; richard.marles.mp@aph.gov.au @RichardMarlesMP

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